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Barcelona An Overview Guide

Feb 27, 2008
The locals are friendly and proud, they believe with good reason in the beauty and history of their city and their Catalonian heritage. For many, today Barcelona is the cultural capital of Spain, leaving Madrid to host the politics. Today Barcelona is home to some one and half million people and millions of visitors every year.

It was Barcelona that won the bid for the 1992 Olympic Games, an event that really helped to develop the city and place it on the tourist map. Prior to the huge developments that the city underwent in order to host the games Barcelona was certainly attractive but lacked a certain international city appeal. Following the games however it is one of the most visited cities in Europe, and the Olympic area overlooking the Mediterranean and the whole city before it is still one of the most popular attractions. The Olympic area may be accessed by a cable car which takes you directly from the beach to the mountain top, an absolute must for any visitor in Barcelona.

The Trendy Las Ramblas is a wide pedestrian mall of a little over a kilometer in length cutting from the harbor to Place Cataluya, the centre of the city where the major thoroughfares of the city meet as do the old city and the newer parts. Las Ramblas is a favorite amongst locals and visitors due to its peacefulness in the heart of a bustling city, its greenery, its plentitude of bars, cafes and restaurants, and its ample supply of street entertainers.

The architecture of Barcelona is unparalleled in its diversity and quality. Antonio Gaudi changed the face of the city with his revolutionary style that dominates the attractions of the city today. One of the best examples of his work is probably the Park Guell, situated on the el Carmel hill in the Garcia district of the city. The structure was originally part of an unsuccessful housing initiative in the early twentieth century and today provides spectacular vistas over the city and beautiful walks. La Sagrada Familia cathedral is probably the most spectacular Gaudi Structure. Started in 1882, this giant temple is still under construction and will not be finished for several years. The building itself towers over its surroundings, easily picked out of an arial photograph and will quite simply take the breath away of any one in its vicinity. Gaudi's many works are dotted around the city and have come to represent a style all of their own; a days walking tour visiting these sites is highly recommended.

The city has become homage place to a surprising group of people skaters. Due to its open plans and plentiful outdoor monuments and squares it provides an abundance of spots perfect for street skating.

Barcelona is not a cheap city to play in and with most hotels boasting an 85% year round occupancy it is easy to see why. An important point to be aware of is that there is a difference between a 'hostel' and a 'hostal', the later being a guest house or small hotel whereas the former is a youth hostel. A hostal is sometimes also referred to as a pension. Hostals are not rated as hotels are by a five start system but rather by a three star system, are mostly family run, and often can not be booked online. However many prefer them as they provide the same level of comfort as a hotel whilst also providing a family atmosphere giving you the opportunity to meet locals and taste local food, all at a much reduced price. You should also be aware that some hostals have shared bathroom facilities, so ask before you book what the set up is. A double room in a hostal will usually cost between 60 and 100 euros per night depending on the season and the star rating of the hostal. Hostels on the other hand, start from around 18 euros a night including bed linen and breakfast, whilst aparthotels, hotel rooms with self catering facilities, cost between 70 and 120 euros a night again depending on the star rating.
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