Barcelona loves to indulge in the fantastic. From the urban carnival that is Las Ramblas to its Modernista buildings with no straight lines; from wild festivals to even wilder nightlife; from bronzed nude beaches to a beloved white gorilla named Floquet (who sadly passed away in November), the city pushes the limits of style and good taste in everything it does, and does so with amazing results. As the center of the whimsical and daring Modernisme architectural movement, Barcelona boasts fairy-tale buildings (Gaudi) like none other in the world. With artists like Dalí, Picasso, and the lovable Miró, even Barcelona's world famous art is grounded in an alternate reality...

Barcelona is the city where Antonio Gaudi spent his life and it is here where his most significant masterpieces can be found. The Sagrada Familia stands out as one which has been catalogued as the eighth marvel of the world. Also, on Paseo de Gracia - the most elegant street of the city are various other Gaudi creations, such as the Pedrera (Casa Mila) or La Casa Batllo (privately owned, but open to the public). Practically all the Gaudi arquitectural art works - some twenty of them in Barcelona - are visited all year round, some with free entrance and others at low affordable prices.

The Gothic area of Barcelona, is a Roman city which dates back 2000 years. The Sant Jaume Square is the point where the two most important roads of the Roman city meet. This is also where the two most politically relevant buidlings of the city and Catalonia are located, the Town Hall and the palacio de la Generalitat. Close to the square is the Barcelona Cathedral. The hippest bars, restaurants, clothes and interior design shops and cafés are found in this area.

Next to Las Ramblas is La Plaza Reial, a former monastery, and one of the most visited places in the city, with most tradition and cultural meaning. It is a meeting point for the locals and visitors, who come here to mingle and enjoy cocktails or a meal in the many cafés, restaurants and bars of the square. On Sundays you can find a traditional collectors market of coins and stamps.

Plaza Catalunya, the link of Barcelona, where all roads start...Paseo de Gracia, up town shopping, exclusive restaurants and cafes. Rambla Catalunya, a romantic promenade of stores and street cafes parallel to Paseo de Gracia. Las Ramblas, where the trees, birds and local musicians create an atmosphere to remember. Via Laietana, the link between Borne and Barrio Gotico. Walking down on your way to the beach, visit the spectacular Palau de la Musica, protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage, the Picasso museum and the Gothic Barcelona Cathedral.

East of Vía Laietana lies the maze-like neighborhood of La Ribera, which borders Parc de la Ciutadella and the Estació França train station. The place to mingle in trendy local bars or designer restaurants. Perfect for an afternoon of cocktails, tapas and cava with the locals.

Yes, it's true... Barcelona, for years has lived with its back to the Sea. The same Sea which gave life to the fishing industry of the area of Barceloneta. After the Barcelona Olympic games in 1992 this changed, a whole new construction project renewed the area and created Villa Olimpica, residential area by the Sea, the fishing area was reformed to create Barceloneta and the fishing port changed into a luxury harbour, Port Vell. Today, Port Vell is a modern and luxurious harbour where the main Mediterranean yachts embark and from where the great cruise ships depart. This ancient fishermans neighbourhood has a diversity of delicious restaurants whose speciality, obviously, is seafood and typical Spanish rice dishes. It is the local peoples favourite area for a Sunday stroll and a quiet weekend lunch. Very close (a five minute walk) you find the famous beaches of Barcelona. With the sun shining all year, the beach is the chosen location for sports activities, sun bathing or a relaxed lunch at one of the many local "chiringuitos" (local beach bars with live music).

The Rambla is, of course, the best known landmark of Barcelona, and deservedly so. Meandering down from the Pl. de Catalunya to the Columbus statue, filled with newspaper kiosks, flower and animal stalls, and all sorts of artists, it is undoubtedly the place where everyone comes together, both tourists and locals. Of interest are the Miro Mosaic, the Liceu (Opera house), and the Mercat de la Boqueria or exhibition centers such as the Palau De la Virreina and the Centre D'Art Santa Monica. When you feel tired, have a drink at one of the many terraces, try your luck at the Cafe de la Opera. Strolling down the Rambla, on your right is the Barri del Raval, formerly known as the "barrio chino", the red-light district of the city. This area no longer has a bad reputation. In the Raval you will find many small restaurants and night bars where you can spend a very pleasant evening. In Calle Montalegre you'll find the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, which houses various exhibitions and the restored Museu d'Art Contemporani. Further down the Ramblas, in Calle Nou de la Rambla, is the Palau Guell, by Gaudi. You should not miss Pl. Reial, on your left, with its archway and palm trees (some say the tallest of Europe). From this square go to Calle Ferran, which leads toPl. Sant Jaume, where the Palau de la Generalitat and the Town Hall can be found.

Once in the Barri Gotic, the best thing to do is to wander round the small streets, exploring them for yourself. But don't miss the Pl. de Sant Josep Oriol, with its afternoon concerts. Pl. de Sant Felip Neri, the most romantic of the city, the Cathedral with its fine cloister, the Calle del Bisbe and the Pl. del Rei. You're not through with Ciutat Vella yet. You still have to visit the Barri de la Ribera, which is down to the right of Via Laietana, and where, among many others, you can find the Museu Picasso and the church of Santa Maria del Mar, the most representative example of the austere Catalan gothic style. This area, and that of the Pg. del Born, are rich in restaurants and bars where you can have a drink late at night.

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