The history of Barcelona is contentious with two versions of just how it came into being and claimed its name. The modern city with its grid design is a major centre of commerce and art. It is also a hugely popular tourist destination.
But away from the beaches (they're actually artificial, built for the 1992 Olympic Games) the city is in particular a major hub for students of art and architecture with a number of suitable museums and sites of real interest for school trips to Barcelona.
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Barcelona’s Stock Exchange is a hugely popular attraction for business and economics students, receiving over 700,000 visitors each year. "Bolsa de Barcelona” offers guests expert-led, English speaking tours, providing a unique inside look at the workings of a real-life trading market using the latest technology, with more than 600 monitors and a state-of-the-art video wall, featuring up-to-the-minute information on the market’s latest movements.
With its iconic, scaled roof and skeletal structure, the Casa Batllo is widely regarded as one of Antoni Gaudi’s true masterpieces. The building was constructed between 1904-06, but features elements of rational design that would not become commonplace for another 30 years after its creation, including enhanced ventilation and the stylised use of natural light.
Aside from the colour-changing windows, the mask-shaped balconies and the private entry hall reminiscent of Captain Nemo’s underwater caves, the most memorable aspect of Casa Batllo is its stunning rooftop terrace. Designed to resemble a dragon’s back, the different coloured tiles are said to show an animal’s spine. While a popular theory is that the houses’ façade represents the legend of St George.
Initially constructed as a show house for his Park Güell project, Antoni Gaudi lived in the would-be Gaudi House Museum for nearly 20 years of his later life. After his death, his residence was transformed into the commemorative museum seen today. The building houses an immense collection of Gaudi’s work, including furniture designed by him, as well as objects and documents that tell the story of the Catalan architect’s remarkable life.
The museum showcases a range of exhibits that aim to show the personal side of Antoni Gaudi through recreations of his private rooms with many of his own belongings on display. Self-led and guided tours are available.
Set in Salvador Dali’s hometown of Figueres, Catalonia, the Dali Theatre and Museum is based on the surrealist artist’s own concept of a "totally theatrical museum”. The specially designed building houses the world’s largest collection of Dali’s major works, including The Spectre of Sex-appeal, Soft self-portrait with grilled bacon, Basket of Bread and Galatea of the Spheres.
Students can also view art installations that Dali created especially for the museum, including the Mae West Room, the Palace of the Wind and the Cadillac plujós. While Dali’s crypt can be found away from display beneath the stage of his theatre.
Figueres is a fantastic example of a typical Catalonian township outside of Barcelona and is world-famous as the birthplace and final resting place of acclaimed surrealist artist Salvador Dali. The town has a selection of shops, cafes and restaurants for visitors to explore, as well as its unusual but intriguing Museu del Jogeut de Catalunya, a museum focused solely on traditional Spanish toys.
Since making their first bottle in 1911, Freixenet has gone on to become one of the world's leading wine brands and provides the official cava of the MotoGP World Championships. Today, students can learn more about the history of this Catalonian family brand and discover the creative process behind Freixenet's acclaimed cava.
Guided tours of the facility welcome visitors to explore the winery built in 1922 and showcase a 10-minute audio-visual exhibition bringing the story of one of the wine industries most easily recognised brands to life for a new generation.
Situated only 90 kilometres from Barcelona, Garrotxa Natural Park is a site of great geographic importance containing over 40 volcanoes and 20 balsatic lava flows in 15,309 hectares of space. While these volcanoes are no longer active, the region is still seismically unstable, with the last large earthquake in 1428 causing damage to both people and buildings in Barcelona, despite being over fifty miles from the city.
Students can enjoy guided tours of the area and discover more about the immense forces that have shaped and continue to have an effect in this fascinating area. Please ask our team for more details.
The Gothic Quarter or Barri Gotic features some of Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks, including the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, Basilica of La Merce, Church of Santa Maria and the Placa Del Rei. It is also the home of the Barcelona City History Museum, housing the remains of the old Roman city that once stood in place of The Gothic Quarter.
Visitors can enjoy tours of this remarkably medieval district, gaining a unique insight into the vast history, folklore, legends and myths surrounding this mysterious labyrinthine area. Barri Gotic also has many shops, cafes and restaurants.
The Joan Miró Foundation is among Barcelona’s most celebrated art museums, dedicated to showcasing the life and works of Joan Miró, one of Spain’s foremost modern artists. Designed and built by Miró himself, the museum is an example of his superb modernist sensibilities, allowing visitors to move freely throughout the galleries and exhibits with minimal distractions.
The collection showcases many of Miró’s greatest works throughout eight different sections, including notable pieces such as Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement, Naked woman climbing a staircase and The Caress of a Bird. Expert-led tours are also available.
The home of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and a site of deep historical significance, Montjuïc Mountain is one of the city’s most recognisable sights. Its peaks provided the building ground for many fortifications throughout Catalonian history, with the Castle of Montjuïc (circa 17th century) still standing today.
Once the short ride on the funicular railway is over, groups can enjoy the tremendous views and historical sites at their own pace, or embark on guided tours of the area. The old Olympic facilities, Palau Sant Jordi and Poble Espanyol are just a few of the many points of interest waiting to be explored.
The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (or MNAC) curates Spain’s foremost collection of Catalonian artworks, and houses what many experts agree is the finest selection of Medieval Romanesque art in the world today. Other exhibits within the museum explore the Catalan modernists of the early 1900s, and the Cabinet of Drawings and Print contains around 50,000 drawings, 70,000 engravings and more than 1,000 posters designed within the region.
Set on the monumental slopes of Montjuïc Hill, the museum offers one of the best views of Barcelona’s city skyline, and is set in the Palau Nacional, a pre-eminent example of Catalan architecture circa 1929.
Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art holds a permanent collection of around 5,000 works, dating from the 1940s to the present day. As well as celebrating Spanish or more specifically, Catalan artists, the museum features pieces from some of the world’s foremost contemporaries, including John Cage, and Hans-Peter Feldmann’s 100 Years, a gallery of 101 portraits of people aged between eight weeks to 100 years old.
The museum offers workshops, talks and guided tours of the various galleries, along with regular special exhibitions and events to breathe new life into some of Europe’s finest contemporary works.
Barcelona's Palau de la Musica Catalana music hall was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997 for its remarkable architecture and cultural history within the city. Designed and built in the early 20th century by Lluis Doménech I Montaner, the building is widely considered to be among one of the finest examples of early modernist architecture in Europe today.
Guided tours of the hall welcome students to explore several of the Palau's main areas including the Rehearsal Hall of the Orfeo Catala, Lluis Millet Hall and the grand Concert Hall which still hosts regular performances in the present day.
Famous modernist architect Antoni Gaudi designed Park Güell in the early 20th century, and by 1926 the area was officially opened as a public park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a living and breathing testament to Gaudi’s remarkable architecture, and was a benchmark to the Catalonian modernist movement of the 1900s.
Visitors can enjoy guided tours from subject experts, offering a unique perspective on how Gaudi’s work focused on sustainability and harmony with the natural environment. Highlights of the park include the Hall of Columns, the mosaic lizard statue and fascinating viaducts, gatehouses and many more. While the view from the top of Güell has been described as one of the best in the city.
Barcelona’s foremost cubist artist is celebrated in the extensive galleries and exhibitions within the Picasso Museum. Visitors can enjoy 4,251 of his works in the permanent collection, telling the story of Pablo from his days as a young artist, to his death in 1973, highlighting his intense love for Barcelona throughout his career.
The museum, housed in five large town houses in the Catalan city’s historical carrer de Montcada, features regular special exhibits and contains many of Picasso’s most famous paintings. Including two of his earliest works, The First Communion and Science and Charity.
First built in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exhibition, The Poble Espanyol is a 49,000-square metre "town" designed by Francesc Folguera and Ramon Reventos as a complete collection of Spanish architecture. Literally translating to "Spanish Town", Poble Espanyol contains no fewer than 117 buildings from all over the nation, displaying the best architectural design from places such as La Corunya, Zaragoza, Mallorca and Madrid in just a small space.
The Poble Espanyol is also the home of Museum Fran Daurel, a private art collection which houses works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro.
Barcelona’s regenerated waterfront harbour is one of the Catalan city’s most popular tourist attractions, complete with the Maremagnum shopping centre, its own IMAX Cinema and L’Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Europe with 6 million litres of sea water, 8000 fish and 11 sharks. Port Vell was refreshed in the early 90s as part of the city’s huge urban renewal project prior to hosting the 1992 Olympic Games, along with all 4.5km of the city’s seven artificial beaches.
Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations but also a fantastic seat of learning making school trips to Barcelona a great field study for many subjects. In particular Barcelona residents such as Gaudi, Miro and Tapiers have left an indelible mark on the city and its place as a cultural heritage site. Other luminaries include Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali although not all Barcelona’s artistic decisions have been the best, the city turned down the chance to be home to the Eifel Tower, rejecting the monument which is now a Paris icon.
Barcelona Facts - Did you know...
The most visited museum in Barcelona is actually the FC Barcelona museum dedicated to the football club.
All Barcelona's beaches are fake and were created in time for city to host the 1992 Olympic Games.
The Sagrada Familia has taken longer to build than the Great Pyramids.
Barcelona is to thanks for World book day. In Barca it is actually traditional to give the gift of a book to your loved one.
The city is laid out in a grid with octagonal blocks to increase the feeling of light and space at intersections and to help ease traffic movement.
Barcelona was actually the first choice as a location for the Eifel Tower but the city rejected it.
Flamenco dancing is not popular in Barcelona.
There are 141 species of trees lining Barcelona's streets.
This city was once home to a dating agency. For pets!?!
Places to go, people to meet...
Great Barcelona Locations
Placa de Catalunya
Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
Fundacio Joan Miro
Gaudi House Museum
Famous Barcelona Residents
Albert Sánchez Piñol
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