Since we have been to Barcelona many times, we have already visited all the main tours during previous visits. The tours included a walk through the places of Antonio Gaudi, a visit to the amazing temple of Sagrada Familia, and three mountains – Montjuic, Tibidabo, Montserrat, and the Gothic Quarter, and much more. After all, Barcelona is a city with inexhaustible opportunities for tourists (and guides :)). Therefore, on our next visit, we decided to try a tour for advanced tourists.
As we have done many times before, when visiting iconic cities such as Rome, a guided tour with a private guide saves a lot of time and provides you with the concentrated information about the city. Group tours suit unprepared travelers who want to receive the most basic information about the place of travel. But if you want to feel the spirit of the city, find out the detail information about the key milestones of its history, visit some special signs besides typical tourist places, then a private guided tour is the best solution (especially if the guide is a local resident). There is a resource Excurzilla.com, that allows you to find a good and budget offers from guides in any tourist city. After spending a couple of hours on such a tour, you will definitely gain your special perception of the city, and remain it for a long time. We certainly learned new details that you can not find out from the common booklets – “Geniuses and Villains of Barcelona”.
We started our tour on the square near the Cathedral of Barcelona. It is this cathedral, but not the more famous “Sagrada Familia”, is the main cathedral of the city. Of course, we were told about the patroness of the city – Saint Eulalia, and 13 geese, which live in this cathedral in memory of her (you can look at these geese even without buying a ticket to the cathedral if you come after 5 p.m. and before evening service). But this story is well known for many people, but others stories are quite unusual, and you won’t find them in booklets.
There is an unremarkable bas-relief in one of the central cathedrals of Barcelona. However, it is dedicated to an outstanding historical person who devoted his life to the defense of Catalonia – Wilfred the Hairy. That’s right, the ekenames of historical figures of the early Middle Ages are an inexhaustible source for jokes. At the same time, the story about Wilfred the Hairy, who cleared Barcelona of the Moors, would be incomplete without mention of his neighbor and friend, Charles the Bald, who helped Wilfred choose the flag of Catalonia (the very same, yellow with red stripes). Charles dipped 4 fingers into Wilfred’s wound, and ran them over the golden shield. At the same time, as we can see on the bas-relief, Wilfred was not so hairy as to be remembered in history with such a name. However, legends say that the hair was not where you can see it…
Another story concerns kind of contradictions of private and public interests 🙂 At the beginning of the 20th century, one honourable Catalan family decided to update the interiors of their family residence in central Barcelona. They were particularly interested in the tall columns in the Roman style, which were very harmoniously integrated into the family mansion. They thought about demolishing the columns, or at least to move them. So their origin was revealed – invited experts found out that these columns belong to the ancient temple of Augustus, on the ruins of which the family’s mansion was built. As a result, the columns have the status of a protected monument, but the mansion doesn’t have the same 🙂 Personally, I, as a lawyer, was interested to find out if that family received any compensation for its centuries-old “unauthorized construction,” but the story is silent about this.
We also visited the Museum of the History of Barcelona, and were amazed that there is another underground city under the well-known buildings in the city center Looking at the well-preserved remains of ancient Barcelona, you can imagine the way of life of its inhabitants, the main historical events, as well as and traditions and mentality of citizens.
For example, we remembered a rational approach to the use of resources – stone tombstones from the past were used to build the walls of the new building. Or a military strategy, involving a maze of underground tunnels in the strategic city, which was often under besiege. Which, in turn, encouraged the locals to be very resourceful to survive a long siege.
In the Plaza del Rei there are beautifully preserved buildings, the most important of which is the King Palace, previous residence of the rulers of the city. The structure is a mix of styles of ancient architecture, and the oldest part dates from the 11th century. The massive stone staircase leading to the palace has its historical significance – the legend says that the rulers of Spain met Columbus, who returned from his legendary journey, right at this staircase.
The House of Music with amazingly beautiful facades and interiors, was built by the famous architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who was a teacher of Antonio Gaudi. Most of the funds for the construction of this masterpiece were collected as donations for the children’s choir (in general, there are several stories about this fundraising). Currently, this House is used for musical plays, and has very high characteristics. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take photos of the interior – our tour was coming to an end, and the main premises of the House of Music were already closed. But I would certainly recommend you to visit it as one of the iconic places in Barcelona.
Another idea for a good time in Barcelona was to take a professional photo shooting during a walk (the so-called “reportage photography”). We wanted a professional photographer to follow us around the city and take photos in a “natural setting.” Since our impressions of an individual city tour were still fresh, it was simple to choose the place of shooting.
Once more time we turned to Excurzilla.com to find a suitable photographer. We have already had a bad experience with a photographer in the past (we accidentally found him on the Internet), so this time we have paid special attention to the description of offers and feedbacks on a special resource. We found a wonderful girl, Ekaterina, who created a wonderful atmosphere throughout the shooting and took photos at the right moment.
We began our photo walk on the square of the Cathedral, and took some photos in the cafe on the roof. It was very nice.
Then we moved to Square of Europe, gradually climbing to the foot of Montjuic mountain, and then to the gardens located on it. Ekaterina found quiet places almost without tourists, and were taking pictures in a relaxed mode.
We finished our walk in the Born District, where we found old stone streets and a lot of suitable views.
Of course, I cannot say that these photographs are of any particular artistic value. However, after a few days in Barcelona, you would certainly want to have some spectacular photos among your selfies. Well, professional equipment shoots better than the cameras of any smartphone, and a real photographer knows better how to choose the angle, light, etc.
In general, this option of spending time can be provided in almost any city, which you can visit as a tourist. You can get individual and professionally captured impressions of the place of visit for a very reasonable fee.