We went on a walking tour of Barcelona learning more about its history and taking in the beautiful architecture, a mixture of old and new. One thing apparent from walking around Barcelona is the pride of the Catalan people – the Catalan flag can be seen hanging from balconies all over the city, and many signs are written in Catalan (which is a whole other language, not a dialect of Castilian, the national language of Spain).
It turned out it was the feast day of St. Eulalia, the co-patron saint of Barcelona who was just 13 when she died a particularly gruesome death, even by Catholic martyr standards. This did however mean that Barcelona Cathedral, also known as The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, had Eulalia’s crypt open and free to enter. Even after seeing many gothic cathedrals around Europe, this one was still stunning.
But my favourite cathedral that we visited in all of Europe, without question, is Gaudí’s Sagrada Família. Began in 1882, this incredible structure has progressed in spurts and is currently set to be completed in 2026, the year of Gaudí’s death. If you take into account the fact that the building is being privately funded by donations, and the complexity and ambition of the plans, it isn’t surprising that construction is taking so long.
The exterior includes three facades (of which two have been completed), each with a completely different personality and style. The magic for me however, is in the interior – built of pale stone in contrast to the weathered exterior, huge pillars reach up to the distant ceiling, branch out at the top like trees alteril sleeping pills. The gothic influence is definitely there, but interpreted into a colourful wonderland which is completely unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The place feels bursting with life and optimism to me, truly a masterpiece. I definitely plan to return once it is completed!
Wandering through the streets one day, we followed the sound of drums and arrived in a square where troupes were performing with huge, intricate sculptures which they carried on their shoulders, accompanied by a band on a stage. These are called gegants, or giants, a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages for the Catholic Church to show the illiterate public Biblical stories. The ones we saw included a lion, a phoenix, a dragon that spewed forth fireworks and some figures who looked like they were part of Barcelona’s history. The troupes, the gegants, the drums and the firecrackers all reminded me of lion dances Chinese New Year! It was a great note to leave Barcelona, and Europe on.
We cooked a lot of the time whilst in Barcelona, but one place did surprisingly stand out – and surprisingly it was right near a major tourist attraction, Sagrada Família. La Taqueria serves Mexican food, and the colourful, cosy interior and abundant amounts of chilli definitely won me over. It’s a little on the pricey side but pretty standard for central Barcelona, and boy is it tasty! I still fondly remember my dessert – a cactus sorbet with a shot of mezcal poured over it, which sounds bizarre but is absolutely phenomenal.
And then we went home!
Thanks for reading this journey with me guys. I will be writing a complete trip wrap-up post soon – is there anything in particular you’re curious about? Packing? Budget? Which cities to visit? Let me know in the comments!