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Published: February 2nd 2017
The Palau de la Musica Catalana
The gorgeous glass roof of the concert hall
Today, Saturday 28th January, is my last day in Barcelona and I plan to make the most of it. I have a 3.00pm guided tour of Palau de la Musica Catalana this afternoon, but nothing else planned.
A scrumptious buffet breakfast is supplied every morning at Forget Me Not B&B and some mornings I've started my day without it as it's only available between 8-10am, and I've been long gone by then. But, not today. Today I linger over breakfast, enjoying the pastries and fruit and an extra cup of tea before heading out to the metro station.
First port of call today is Mirador de Colom, the 60 metre high cast iron column holding a statue of Christopher Columbus, situated at the Port Vell end of La Rambla. This explorer discovered America in 1493 and the statue stands at his arrival point. There are steps going underground to a lovely gift shop and a tiny 4 person lift where, for €6, you will be whisked up to the top of the column for a bird's eye view over Port Vell, La Rambla and the rooftops of Barcelona.
There was a small market setting up on the waterfront,
no more than a dozen or so stalls. They all sold antiques and memorabilia and were interesting to browse through, and held an amazing variety of stock.
El Raval, a neighbourhood on the opposite side of La Rambla to the Gothic Quarter, with its edgy mix of art and attitude was my next stop. Alighting at San Antoni metro, I soon found myself on Rambla del Raval, El Raval's version of La Rambla. Bordered by palm trees and cafes it was a strikingly green contrast to La Rambla's leafless, deciduous winter trees.
A colourful mix of nationalities can be found here, particularly Chinese, Arabic and Indian. Further up the street I found a piece of street art - an enormously tall and fat bronze cat, one of two works by Columbian artist Fernando Botero to be found in Barcelona. The other is a fat horse located outside the Arrivals terminal at El Prat airport.
I followed the locals down the busiest street branching off Rambla del Raval, knowing it would lead somewhere significant, and found myself back on La Rambla. I'll always take the time to stop and browse in any interesting shops I pass, or find
a cafe for a break and a bite to eat.
On La Rambla, a protest was underway, crowds of locals holding homemade signs following a drumming group, which was pounding out rhythms guaranteed to grab your attention. I grabbed one of their brochures so I could translate it later on Google and see what all the fuss was about.
The rally was over what the locals considered to be an out-of-control tourism boom which has damaged their ability to live and work in inner city Barcelona. Soaring tourism has fueled higher rent and property prices, leaving many residents priced out of the city centre. Accomodation booking site AirB&B has just been hit with huge fines for listing 100's of unregistered beds in the Barcelona centre. Locals feel they have lost their city to tourists, and are hoping to claim it back. A similar protest was held last year outside the Sagrada Familia, which is visited by 3 million tourists annually.
Despite fierce opposition from hotel and business owners, the City Council agreed last week to curb the number of rooms for tourists in the city. In April 2015, tourist groups of 15 or more were banned from
Taken from the top of the Christopher Columbus statue. This would be a lovely photo in summer when the trees are green again.
La Boqueria market, off La Rambla, in an effort to control overcrowding. Stall holders had complained tourists outnumbered and got in the way of locals trying to do their weekly shop. The number of tourists visiting Barcelona has tripled in the last 20 years, and I can understand why, it's a beautiful city.
I left myself plenty of time to get to my tour of Palau de la Musica Catalana this afternoon. I knew I had to leave the metro at Urquinaona station in the Ribera district, but had no walking directions from there, hoping for street signage to point the way. I had a rather large false start, heading in completely the wrong direction, but eventually got back on track and arrived with barely minutes to spare. Thankfully I had a pre purchased ticket or I would have missed out. All English speaking tours were fully booked.
Palau de la Musica Catalana is a very distinctive and ornate concert hall, built between 1905-1908, and is the only concert hall in the world to be declared a UNESCO world heritage site. It was built as a home for Barcelona's choir, the Orfeo Catala, and choirs still perform here
Rambla de Mar - Port Vell
The gateway to Barcelona's largest leisure area. Built for the 1992 Olympics
today. The concert hall has a wide ranging program, hosting concerts from classical and jazz to modern day pop music.
The largest and most well known space in the Palau is the concert hall. This beautiful venue is an overwhelming explosion of colour and light, starting with the vast coloured glass skylight, which protrudes from the roof like an inverted dome. The hall is lavishly decorated with intricately detailed stained glass, mosaics, sculpture and wrought iron and seats 2146 patrons. It is the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated, during daylight hours, with natural light. The only way you can see inside the hall is to buy a ticket, either to a performance or a guided tour.
The exterior of the building is impressive too, with it's old and new sections sitting together in perfect harmony. There is a slight tinge of pink in the exterior brickwork and lavish sculptures and mosaic work decorate the facade. Around the back, entrance via a small courtyard, is a cafe where the tour groups meet. It has the same lavish finish with exposed brick arches, tile work and stain glass windows.
This tour is the last one I'll be
Palm trees in a lovely square just of La Rambla
taking here in Barcelona as I head home tomorrow. There's still an awful lot I haven't seen and could easily fill another week exploring the museums and art galleries, checking out the beach areas and taking a cable car ride to Montjuic. Then there's Colonia Guell, another Gaudi project outside of Barcelona, that I've not yet visited....
I came here to visit some of Gaudi's creations and I've definitely done that. One of the few purchases I've made whilst here, is a book on Gaudi's complete works so I can continue to learn and be inspired when I return home.
In the morning I'll catch the metro to the airport for my 9.45am flight to Singapore, and from there, home. Another great trip and more great memories created, and no Pet, it won't be another 12 years before I visit again.... love to you all. XXXX
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