Barcelona was at the top of our Places We Want to Visit list, so we were very excited to go there during the girls’ mid-term break at the end of October. The city exceeded all of our expectations.
Our favorite section of Barcelona was the Gothic Quarter. It’s a maze of narrow stone-paved streets that open magically onto gorgeous squares lined with beautiful architecture. We were told the area is best when explored without having a destination in mind, and we did just that. Wonderful surprises greeted us around every corner.
Bonus: The Big Draw
In the Gothic Quarter we stumbled on The Big Draw, which is a citywide art festival attended by about 22,000 people. There are interactive stations throughout Barcelona designed to engage people in creativity. We participated in two of the workshops at the Museu Picasso and had so much fun. (We also like to tell people that our art hangs in the Picasso Museum.)
Sea in the Air workshop. Participants were welcome to draw sea creatures on hundreds of water-filled bags suspended from the ceiling. It felt like walking through the most whimsical aquarium ever.
Barcelona Futuristic/Retro workshop. We each picked a black-and-white postcard of Barcelona then added colorful sci-fi elements like aliens or UFOs to the classic city scene. We enjoyed seeing the range of art created in this workshop. People are so imaginative.
La Sagrada Familia
This was my number one reason for wanting to visit Barcelona. Designed by Antoni Gaudí, whose distinctive works are found all across Barcelona, this Catholic church is a wonder to behold. Construction began on the mammoth structure in 1882 and its estimated completion date is 2026. It’s truly a spectacular building.
The outside of the church looks like the world’s biggest sandcastle. Intricate sculptural details are everywhere. Nature inspired Gaudí’s work and it’s evident in all of the creatures and foliage represented throughout the church.
As fascinating and detailed as the exterior is, the interior of the church took our breath away. Soaring pillars sculpted into tree trunks lift eyes upward. Stained glass windows bathe the space in rainbow colors. Spiral staircases reach for the sky. It’s simply stunning.
Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey
Gaudí was inspired by nature; Montserrat monastery is defined by nature. Built on a cliff, it is home to about 80 monks and is famous for its statue of the Virgin Mary, which attracts thousands of devotees every year.
We took a train to the monastery then hiked some of the trails around it. The views are beautiful and we could see the snow-capped Pyrenees mountains from our vantage point.
Barcelona is now one of my favorite cities—I’d love to go back some day. We just scratched the surface of things to do there.