When Antoni Gaudí received his degree in architecture, the director of the college said: "Today, we have given a degree in architecture to a madman or a genius, only time will tell". That was in 1878 and the buildings of Gaudí are not only still standing, but have become a worldwide symbol for Barcelona.
There is a wide choice of places to stay in the city but I tend to choose somewhere around Passeig de Gracia, which is within walking distance of a lot of the places you may wish to visit. Look at the Renaissance Barcelona Hotel and Claris Hotel. Further away, the Hotel Princesa Sofia at the end of Diagonal and the design conscious -- and expensive -- Hotel Arts, just by the sea. There is also a new arrival in town which I have yet to try: the Mandarin Oriental. It looks fabulous and has a restaurant run by Carme Ruscalleda.
If you do happen to stay near the Passeig de Gracia, you are close to La Pedrera and Casa Milá, one of the main works of Antoni Gaudí and prime example of the local variant of art nouveau, known as modernismo (modernism). Just across La Pedrera there is another house built by Gaudí, Casa Batlló.
There are many wonderful modernist works around Barcelona but the largest and most famous is the cathedral of La Sagrada Familia, begun by Gaudí in 1882 and not yet finished, that is located at one end of Diagonal.
Coming back down Diagonal, take a left into Las Ramblas, full of cafes, stalls, and shops. Close to Las Ramblas, the market of La Boqueria is worth a visit.
The concert hall of El Palau is impressive and was designed by another modernist arquitect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Not far from here you arrive at the Picasso Museum which houses a large collection of the artist's work. And to end the tour you can continue walking until you come to the marina of Port Vell, full of cafes and restaurants. Talking of restaurants, here is a list of some of my favourites:
- The romantic Neichel
- A restaurant frequented by Salvador Dali, Via Veneto
- The classic 7 Portes, opened in 1836
- The place to go if you want seafood in abundance is Botafumeiro