A View Of Barcelona

Always included in lists of Europe's most attractive cities, Barcelona certainly has so much going for it that it's no surprise that it is so popular with tourists and with people looking to take a few years out from their lives elsewhere.

Port Olimpic Fish and Skyscrapers

I was lucky enough to arrive here in 1988 and so was privileged to get to know the Catalan capital before it hosted the 1992 Olympic Games and really hit the big time.

Since then the city's reputation as a tourist destination has grown exponentially but Barcelona is also considered an example of intelligent urban planning and as a centre for business, entertainment and sport, Barcelona is a hub for visitors from many different spheres

But if you scratch beneath the slightly overhyped surface, you'll find that it's not only a brilliant place to visit but also a great city to be in all year round.

Barcelona's location, hemmed in between the Collserola mountains, the Mediterranean sea and the Besòs and Llobregat rivers, means the city just can't spread out, so although it can get a little claustrophobic at times, if you enjoy walking as much as I do, just about everything is reachable on foot.




And even if you don't, Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona's main square is never more than half an hour away by metro.

Obviously, the two main city centre districts of Ciutat Vella and L'Eixample, which run down and up the hill from the central square, are a major draw for the tourists.

Ciutat Vella, which literally means Old City, dates back to the Romans and walking round the narrow winding streets of the Barri Gòtic, which incidentally is the best-preserved Gothic city centre in Europe, takes you back to a time when Barcelona was capital of an empire that dominated the Mediterranean.

The regal Eixample, on the other hand, was open fields until the demolition of the medieval city walls in mid-19th century and is home to spellbinding modernista buildings created by genius architect Antoni Gaudí and his equally brilliant contemporaries.

What few visitors realise is that the building of L'Eixample linked the medieval city of Barcelona with outlying villages, which date back to at least the 9th and 10th centuries and although annexed by the great metropolis at the turn of the 20th century still retain very distinct identities.

Trendy progressive Gràcia, the uptown neighbourhoods of Sarrià, Sant-Gervasi-Galvany and Pedralbes or old industrial towns of Sants, Poblenou and Sant Andreu de Palomar are all so different and varied that should you choose to explore the different Barcelonas, life here is always stimulating

.

And then you drive over the Collserola ridge or take a train across the rivers out into Barcelona Province and you realise that so many different environments are in easy reach.

Barcelona city beaches are great but the coves of the Garraf coastline south or the long sand beaches of the Costa del Maresme north are so much better.

It's brilliant having Collserola and Montjuïc in the city but they are nothing in comparison with religious Montserrat, spiritual Montseny or the rugged foothills of the Pyrenees.

And Vic, Manresa, Cardona and so many other towns on the Central Catalonia plain compare very favourably with El Barri Gòtic when it comes to medieval history.

The idea of the Barcelonas website, and my Guided Tours and Property Finders Service should you choose to get in touch, is to provide insights into Barcelona City and Province for both Visitors and Residents.

The website is called Barcelonas because Barcelona is plural by its very nature - I've been here for nearly 30 years and however hard I try I still can't quite pin the city down!



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