If you’re already familiar with Barcelona’s five top tourist sights, what next?
1) If you’ve seen the Sagrada Familia, then visit a secular masterpiece of Modernista architecture the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Another of Barcelona’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites this one was designed by Lluis Domènech i Montaner in 1903 to express his belief in architecture as therapy. It is still a fully functioning hospital (though it appeared as language school in Woody Allen’s film, ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona.’) Guided tours in English at 10:15 and 12:15 daily. www.santpau.es
2)If you’ve visted the Cathedral of Barcelona with its ornately carved organ stalls, discover Santa Maria del Mar, the church beloved by Barcelona’s residents. Despite being torched by anarchists in 1936 this medieval basilica with its beautiful 15th century rose window, still exudes an impressive serenity. The building of the church during the Spanish Inquisition is the background to a prize-winning novel ‘The Cathedral of the Sea’ (lldefonso Falcones 2006).
3)If you know the Boqueria Market. wander through the Mercat Santa Caterina, just down the street from the Cathedral. From a distance you will spot the huge undulating canopy – a mosaic of 325,000 multicoloured Spanish tiles- that stylishly covers what was a rundown neo-classic market. Enric Miralles who also worked on the Scottish Parliament Building was one of the building’s designers.
4)If you’ve been to the Picasso Museum, take the funicular up to Monjuic to the splendid Fundació Joan Miró. Housed in one of the word’s outstanding museum buildings (designed by Sert) Miró’s vibrant abstracts have a worthy home. Calder’s ‘Mercury Fountain’, a tribute to the mercury miners of Almaden, is here too.
5) If you’ve walked the length of the Ramblas. you surely will find yourself walking it again. Built over a dried-up riverbed it is itself like a river – its population of strolling pedestrians, bizarre living statues, flowers, birds and small animals for sale is constantly changing. And look for the inlaid mosaics by Joan Miró. .. a large white circle bordered in grey with blue and yellow circles within it. The artist’s signature is on a tile on the perimeter.
AND FOR SOMETHING REALLY DIFFERENT
If you have a PADI scuba diving certificate and four hours free on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday morning you can swim with the sharks in Barcelona’s famous aquarium, one of the largest in Europe.
The session begins with a safety briefing and a class on sharks, their habits and how to recognise the different species. You will be sharing 4 million litres of water with 15 of them as well as with over 80 different species of fish on a 30-minute dive.
The fee of €300 includes free access to the aquarium for up to two people to accompany you and take photographs of your swim with the sharks.
Book online at www.aquariumbcn.com
or telephone 93 221 74 74 (Bookings Dept.); by email at firstname.lastname@example.org