10 Amazing Places in Barcelona’s Best Architecture City Guide
In Barcelona, the cradle of contemporary urbanism, the landscape is enriched with endless layers of history. Since its first settlers, Roman colonists, generation after generation built here, one on top of another.
Romans, Visigoths and a brief Islamic period are still embedded within the city’s prettiest streets. These old architectural stories are delightfully present nowadays. At first glimpse, the traveler can spot a 14th century stone cathedral coexisting with a computer-generated undulating structure – in harmony. Not many cities manage temporary tension as good as Barcelona.
This city has much to offer to the refined traveler, besides its superb built environment. The roads lined with leafy trees (more than 150 different species across the city), the perfumed gardens, its exciting culinary scene and a mild climate that always leaves a sun-kissed glow. Not to mention the seaside. Those of us who live far from the sea find this a treat.
After your first acquaintance with Barcelona, you’ll take a decided vow to visit again, as nobody can resist its charm.
If you are looking for inspiration for your next trip to Barcelona and love architecture, look no further. The following is a list of some of our favorite 10 amazing places.
1. Barcelona Pavilion
Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Location: Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 7
Description: This simple yet effective piece of sculptural architecture was the German Pavilion in Barcelona’s 1929 International Exposition. This small work by Mies van der Rohe is key to understanding the architect’s trajectory as it is one of his most distinguished and the precedent to other obsessively simple structures such as the Farnsworth House (1951). Straight lines both in plan and section, water and solemn materials such as travertine were the ingredients for its elegant and sleek design.
Discover it with our BCN & BARCELONA 1929 a tour discovering the projects that were made for the transformation of Barcelona on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1929.
2. Santa Caterina Market
Architect: Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue
Location: Av. de Francesc Cambó, 16
Description: Santa Caterina Market, located on the former site of Santa Caterina convent, was an ambitious project. Officially inaugurated in 1848, this market by Josep Mas Vila surpassed the functions of the existing markets in the Plaza del Born and in Sant Josep, where sales would be exclusively made to Wholesale, including the sale of meat. By the early 2000s, it was in need of much refurbishment and EMBT won the commission. The spectacular cover of colorful mosaics was designed by the artist Toni Comella.
You can see it with our BARCELONA & GOTHIC TO MODERN discover Barcelona through the eyes of Enric Miralles.
3. Sagrada Família
Architect: Antoni Gaudí
Location: Carrer de Mallorca, 401
Year: 1882-not completed
Description: Gaudí’s biggest and most famous commission, a church that after more than a century of its beginning is still unfinished. This revolutionary religious building – of unprecedented scale – combines Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Relying solely on private donations, Sagrada Familia’s construction progresses slowly. Would it be completed by 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death? We can’t be sure but in the meantime you can visit it.
Come with our BCN & SAGRADA FAMILIA. On this special four-hour tour, you will enjoy two of the most emblematic and most visited monuments in Barcelona led by an official tour guide that specializes in “Modernismo”.
4. Barcelona Cathedral and Gothic Quarter
Location: Pla de la Seu, s/n
Description: Barcelona Cathedral and the surrounding Gothic Quarter are a delightfully preserved Medieval part of Barcelona. The cathedral, constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries, took about 150 years to finish. The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona. Don’t miss the Insta-famous Carrer del Bisbeand remains of the squared Roman Wall.
Enjoy this route with our BARCELONA & THE SEA discover Barcelona through its architecture.
5. Casa Milà
Architect: Antoni Gaudí
Location: Provença, 261-265
Description: Casa Milà, popularly known as ‘La Pedrera’ (the stone quarry), an ironic allusion to the resemblance of its façade to an open quarry, was constructed between 1906 and 1912 as Gaudí’s last private residence. This innovative house was were the architect put together most of his theories. Several structural innovations include a self-supporting stone façade, a free-plan floor, underground garage and the spectacular terrace on the roof.
6. Casa Batlló
Architect: Antoni Gaudí
Location: Passeig de Gràcia, 43
Description: Along with Casa Milà and Casa Vicens (the first home by the great architect), Casa Batlló is one of the most important masterpieces by Gaudí. This example is especially interesting because it is a remodel of a previously built house that bears no resemblance with. There are few straight lines – irregular oval windows and even an arched roof – and much of the façade is decorated with a colourful mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís).
You can discover Casa Milà and Casa Batló with our BARCELONA & GAUDI and you will have a great start to meet the genius of Gaudí.
7. Las Arenas
Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Location: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373 – 385
Description: This exciting conversion transforms a historic 19th bullring into a civic and cultural venue. Due to the building’s strong cultural role for the citizens – during nearly a century – the façade was preserved. The approach involved the most advanced architectural and engineering technologies to re-establish the original building as a visually striking landmark for the city. Don’t miss the amazing rooftop.
With our BARCELONA & THE URBANISM you will travel to the origins of the modern Barcelona.
8. Mercat Fira de Bellcaire Els Encants
Architect: b720 Arquitectos
Location: Carrer de los Castillejos, 158
Description: Els Encants, also called Mercat de Bellcaire, is one of the oldest flea markets in Europe and dates back to the 14th Century. This centenarian marketplace, which has traditionally been set outdoors in an informal way, relocated in 2013 to a stunning new purpose built 3 story structure opposite the Agbar Tower (Jean Nouvel, 2005). What’s really interesting about this project is that it’s designed rejecting the model of a commercial center, thus avoiding multiple rigid floors.
Enjoy this beautiful place during our BARCELONA & THE FUTURE CITY a walk through the smart-city, looking for our Future and discover with us the new Superblock at Poblenou.
9. Botanical Gardens
Architect: Carlos Ferrater and Josep Lluís Canosa
Location: Carrer Doctor i Font Quer, s/n
Description: The Botanical Gardens have a historical tradition in Barcelona: The first botanical garden in the city goes back to the late XVI century. The current Botanical Gardens were the result of a competition won by an interdisciplinary team of architects Carles Ferrater and Josep Lluís Canosa, the landscape architect Bet Figueras, the horticulturalist Artur Bossy and biologist Joan Pedrola. The intelligent infrastructure of the complex was inspired by fractal geometry, which allows the project to grow in a very flexible and creative way, keeping in line as a whole to establish a strong tension with the vegetation growing.
Have a great experience with our BCN & LANDSCAPE a coach tour of the largest urban parks in Barcelona.
10. Park Güell
Architect: Antoni Gaudí
Location: Gràcia neighbourhood, Barcelona
Description: Eusebi Güell, an important entrepreneur of Barcelona, commissioned the design of the park to Gaudí on the site of a commercially unsuccessful housing complex. The site was a rocky hill with little vegetation and few trees but Eusebi Güell saw a lot of potential to exploit the fresh air (well away from smoky factories) and beautiful views from the site. He also commissioned sixty triangular lots being provided for luxury houses. Only two houses were built in the end (neither by Gaudí) but the original idea of the park was fulfilled. Park Güell is also the reflection of Gaudí’s artistic plenitude.
Discover this magic place with our BCN & SAGRADA FAMILIA AND MORE. On this special four-hour tour, you will enjoy two of the most emblematic and most visited monuments in Barcelona led by an official tour guide that specializes in “Modernismo”.