Beautiful, historic, and artistic Barcelona

The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc has been entertaining tourists and citizens since 1929 and is not to be missed when visiting the beautiful, historic, and artistic Barcelona. The city presents free regularly scheduled synchronized water fountain performances with music and colored lights.

This was a beautiful sight to see and I recommend you plan to arrive early to secure a good vantage point to view this show.

Our fabulous transatlantic cruise ended, but our Spain/Italy excursion was just beginning! We were rested, relaxed, and had NO jetlag!

We booked a tour online through so our guide met us at the port and drove us to pick up great friends, Lois and Darrell, who were already in Barcelona and would be our traveling companions for the next week or so.

Traveling with good friends is always the best fun. They rented a great highrise apartment across from the beach and had already been having an excellent exploring adventure without us!

Our guide drove the four of us from Barcelona to the Monsterrat monastery at the top of a mountain made of rock 4,055 feet above the valley. I can’t think of a better way to end a cruise and begin a land tour.

We spent the day enjoying the beautiful scenery and weather and took a self-guided tour of the monastery. We had prepurchased tickets for our tour. Monsterrat is famous for the statue of the Virgin of Monsterrat, the black virgin, and a prominent saint of Catalonia. Great day.

After we left Monsterrat, our tour guide drove us through the streets of Barcelona and pointed out the many sights in the city, Sagrada Familia, Gaudi buildings, Las Ramblas, and Montjuïc Fountain which are many of the attractions I had been reading about for so many months.

At the end of the tour, our guide dropped us at our hotel, the fabulous Crowne Plaza (paid for with hotel points). The hotel rooms were amazing, but the rooftop bar and pool area were the perfect places to relax after a long day of being a tourist.

One of the reasons I chose this hotel is because it is located a few blocks from the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. Although it has changed names, we chose this hotel also for our second visit to Barcelona. See We finally made it to Barcelona.


beautiful, historic, and artistic Barcelona

Pickpocketing had been a big concern for us. My trip research told me that pickpocketing is so prevalent in Barcelona as to almost expect to be either a victim or a witness. On the cruise that had just ended, we attended a seminar presented by Bob Arno, a comedy pickpocket entertainer.

He used comedy to illustrate the different ways we could expect to encounter and interact with pickpockets in Barcelona and other European cities.

We prepared ourselves before we left home even by purchasing an RFID-blocking around-the-neck concealed travel pouch and passport holder for Steve and a cross-body RFID-blocking and slash-resistant handbag and backpack for me.

I did witness two young men tag team a couple by following them in what appeared to me to be a pickpocketing attempt.

The couple entered a building, and the young men did not follow. Do not let the fear of pickpocketing alter your travel plans, though.

It is not a problem if you stay aware of your surroundings at all times and keep your personal belongings protected. Pickpockets look for easy-mark tourists, not safety-conscious travelers.

Gaudi is a bit part of beautiful, historic, and artistic Barcelona

We were fortunate enough to be able to visit four of Gaudi’s works in Barcelona. Antoni Gaudi was a one-of-a-kind modernistic architect who became popular during the late 1800s. It is an understatement to say his work was ornate, showy, and unique.

Seven of his works have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites! He was a deeply religious Catholic and was given the nickname “God’s Architect.” We were told by tour guides that the word “gaudy” comes from Antoni Gaudi’s name. I was disappointed to discover this is not a fact.

The word gaudy has been in use since the 16th century, and although the word gaudy describes Antoni Gaudi’s work well, the word is not derived from his name.  All our tour tickets were prepurchased online, except for Casa Milà, which was a spur-of-the-moment tour.

Unfortunately, the number of tourists in Barcelona requires pre-booking in most cases.

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia

beautiful, historic, and artistic Barcelona
Sagrada Familia — still under construction

Over 3,000,000 tourists visit Sagrada Familia in a year, so I was curious to see such a popular attraction. I read enough to be familiar with the history and construction of this “do not miss” venue, but when I first saw the Sagrada Familia, I was unprepared for its impossible size and detail.

The Sagrada Familia is a huge unfinished Catholic church and is considered to be THE masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi. The building began in 1882, and it is STILL under construction. It is predicted the structure will be completed in 2026.

What I remember clearly from this “skip-the-line” and prepaid tour is that my eyes were wide open with wonder, and my jaw kept dropping at every turn. There is so much to see here. The detail is breathtaking and sometimes difficult to comprehend.

Don’t let the large crowds deter you from visiting here and heads up; you should purchase timed tickets in advance. 

Gaudi’s Park Güell

Antoni Gaudi’s handiwork is all over the city of Barcelona. Parc Güell is just one of his designs. This is a public park system containing whimsical design elements and delightful gardens. One of my favorite parts of this park is the long bench on the main terrace in the form of a sea serpent. 

Sea Serpent Bench at Parc Guell.
Sea Serpent Bench at Parc Güell

Gaudi’s Casa Batlló

This building is considered to be another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. It is right in the center of Barcelona and can easily be identified as a Gaudi design with its unusual flowing stonework and mosaic tiles.

There are several different tour options here from an audio tour to a theatrical tour – choices! I do recommend purchasing tickets in advance. Crowds!

There are no straight lines or right angles in nature.  Therefore, buildings should not have straight lines or right angles. 

Antoni Gaudi

Gaudi’s Casa Milà

Critics of this structure that was built between 1906 and 1912 nicknamed it “the stone quarry” based on its unusual rough stone appearance. Casa Milà is really two buildings around two courtyards shaped like an asymmetrical “8.” This was such a fun building to tour with fun and fantastic features at every turn. 

Besalú, Vic and Santa Pau

Nuria was our private tour guide for the full-day outing we pre-booked through Viator, included visits to three medieval towns near Barcelona. We were fortunate enough to experience the most entertaining and informative interactive history lesson ever!

The stories that lady could tell! Great memories to have. Incidentally, we could see but did not go to the Pyrenees mountains, the natural border between Spain and France. That was kind of cool. 

Besalú 11th century fortified bridge

The picture shown above is an 11th-century fortified bridge leading into the charming historic village of Besalú, outside of Barcelona. We visited the old Jewish quarter of the town, which boasts one of only a handful of Jewish bathhouses remaining. This one dates to the 1200s!

The Jewish population was eventually forcibly driven out of Catholic Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. 

Vic, another ancient town, boasts a beautiful central square and the picturesque Sant Pere Cathedral. The cathedral was built in the 11th century and renovated in the 18th and 19th centuries. A 2nd-century Roman Temple still stands in Vic.

The town reconstructed the temple after its remains appeared in the ruins of the castle of Montcada during its demolition. The castle was built in 897 and used the temple walls as part of its construction. 

Vic city street

Santa Pau, the third village we visited, is located in the center of a volcanic region, dates from the 13th and 14th centuries, and centers around a medieval castle. We enjoyed walking around the narrow cobblestone streets.

Nuria took us to a tiny restaurant for lunch, where she had to confirm with the restaurant owner that they would be able to accommodate all five of us for lunch!

We ate some genuinely great ham and cheese sandwiches here. 


We did manage to fit in at least one geocache find on our day trip outside of Barcelona. Our geocache hunt took us to this beautiful site with a view of an ancient village.

After our four days of great food and sightseeing in Barcelona, the four of us took a quick flight over to Florence, Italy, on Vueling Airlines — a new airline to me. It was a good experience, although our departure was delayed a couple of hours. The adventure continues.

Beautiful, historic, and artistic Barcelona

20 thoughts on “Beautiful, historic, and artistic Barcelona

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  10. Just took another great virtual trip on your blog! Thanks, I look forward to the next one!

    1. Thanks for taking a look. A new story will be posted tomorrow.

  11. Did you post a picture of the Crowne Plaza, Rooftop Bar & pool Debbie? if so, I guess I missed it.

    1. I am sorry, Those pictures were not very clear so I did not post any. Our photography skills are improving though! My friend that was with us in Barcelona has kindly shared her photos and they are posted now.

    1. It was a fun trip to make; I’d love to go there again. We saw and did a lot, but there was so much more.

  12. Thank you for mentioning us in your blog! I can’t wait to travel again with you and Steve. You remember so many details I hadn’t remembered or just passed me by. Crowne Plaza in Barcelona….yes! Highly recommend due to rooftop bar/view, and oh, the cool pool with the optical illusion. Keep posting! Great pics and info to inspire more travel.

    1. Thank’s Lois. I hope we have many more travel trips in our future with you guys.

  13. GREAT info! Did you take a lot of notes? Research it after or travel diary?

    1. We planned this trip for over a full year before we went and I did a lot of research about the attractions, costs, people, weather, political climate. I figure the more I know before I go, the more I will appreciate what I’m seeing and doing. I did, of course, because of my senior memory, keep some notes. I do try to take memory pictures so I can easily recall what, when, where. I hope to “write on the fly” more often in the future though.

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