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Barcelona's UNESCO Site of Sagrada Familia

One City, Nine Treasures of Culture and Creativity You Simply Cannot Miss

Barcelona’s seaside beauty, sprawling beaches, world-class shopping, eclectic architecture, incredible tapas and Tempranillo and all-around zest for living one’s best life is no secret. The city famously presides over global travelers’ lists of “must see” destinations, inevitably enticing them with days filled with as much energy and discovery as the pulsating nightlife. Barcelona’s treasures are many and diverse, and have drawn attention beyond that of culture-seeking travelers. In fact, nine important sites in the city have earned the esteemed acclaim of UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Since the city is fairly easy to navigate, whether on foot or by the abundant tourist and public transportation options, one can certainly plan to see all or most of these treasures during a visit to Barcelona. And with more than a dozen Crystal Cruises calling there in 2018 and 2019 – many with overnight stays – we’re happy to give you plenty of choices and opportunities to check these remarkable sites off your bucket lists.

Fun Fact: Of the nine Barcelona UNESCO World Heritage Sites, seven are works by the city’s most famous son, architect Antoni Gaudí. They are listed collectively on UNESCO’s register as one enduring treasure, but are separate sites, boasting individual character and the signature style of the master, found throughout the city.

Featured image above: Sagrada Familia

Barcelona's UNESCO Site of Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia – Possibly Gaudí’s most famous work and a true centerpiece of any Barcelona experience, this remarkable church is still not considered complete, projected to be finished in 2026, approximately 100 years after Gaudí’s death. Sagrada Familia is an incredibly intricate work of Gaudí’s signature rounded Gothic style with modernist touches, and that’s just the exterior. Inside the main sanctuary, massive mosaics of stained glass windows create a kaleidoscope of light throughout.


Barcelona's UNESCO Site of Casa Vicens
Casa Vicens – By contrast, perhaps Gaudí’s least well-known work in Barcelona is Casa Vicens. It was also one of his first commissions in the city, designed as a private residence for Manel Vicens I Montaner. Like all Gaudí designs, this one is inspired by nature, with lush gardens and waterfalls and fountains on the outside, and botanical themes on the interiors. The home is significant for its groundbreaking design, nothing of which had been seen in Catalonia before Gaudí hit the scene in the late 1800’s.


Barcelona's UNESCO Site of Casa Mila, or La Pedrera
Casa Milà – Also known as La Pedrera is another early work by Gaudí. It is prominently built on the corner Passeig de Gràcia, near to another of Gaudí’s great works, Casa Batlló; and can be identified as one of the master’s buildings from a mile away. No interior wall is built completely straight, making this particular building an inspiring beauty that is unique, even for the boundless creativity of the architect. Casa Milà is considered one of the finest representations of Gaudí’s legacy in Barcelona.


Barcelona's UNESCO Site of Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló – The nearby Casa Batlló is another abstract rainbow of design, adorned in oblong, oval-shaped windows framed with vibrantly colored tiles and painted façade. It takes on an almost creepy display, with curved roof and outer structure resembling a skeleton, and the shapes of the tiles resembling the scales of a reptile. This ominous vibe is overtaken by the building’s striking beauty, and its individuality in cityscape that boasts some of the most unique places in the world.


Barcelona's UNESCO SIte Park Guell
Parque Güell – The view from Park Güell nearly rivals the view of Parque Güell, with its perch high above the city, inland, looking out at the Mediterranean. Mosaics cloak walls of endless mazes of walking paths, unusually shaped rooftops and the famous multicolored salamander, known as “El Drac” (the dragon). The park fully embodies Gaudí’s unquenchable love of nature, providing numerous quiet enclaves to explore surrounded by ivy and draping trees.


Barcelona's UNESCO Site of Crypt Colonia Guell
The Crypt of Colonia Güell – Technically located just outside of Barcelona, about 15 miles southwest in Santa Coloma de Cervelló, the Güell Crypt is a spectacular sight to behold. The colony was originally imagined to be an industrialized community that would support all facets of life for the workers of Eusebi Güell, but Gaudí created something more. His signature non-linear columns and walls, tile mosaics and breathtaking colorful stained glass are not to be missed.


Barcelona's UNESCO Site of Palau Güell
Palau Güell – Or Güell Palace, another early work by Gaudí, this private residence is extraordinary in its ordinariness, considering its creator. Featuring straighter lines than he typically used, Palau Güell makes a statement of its own as one of the premier buildings of the Art Nouveau movement, made of marble, stone and hand-carved wood and iron. It is located on Carrer Nou de la Rambla in the heart of the Raval neighborhood, a lesser-known but truly worthwhile landmark of the city.


Barcelona's UNESCO Site of Palau de La Musica Catalana
Palau de La Musica Catalana – The first on our list not designed by Antoni Gaudí, this concert hall by Lluis Domenech I Montaner is considered one of the most majestic concert halls in Europe. Its ornate and lovely exterior sits in contrast to the more uniform buildings around it, drawing visitors inside for a closer look at its massive glass roof and elegant stage. A perfect representation of Catalan Art Nouveau, this is the only concert hall built in this style to be featured on UNESCO’s registry.


Barcelona's UNESCO Site of Hospital de Sant Pau
Hospital de Sant Pau – Another Montaner masterpiece, this hospital was fully functioning until 2009 – one of Europe’s oldest healthcare institutions – when it became a stately icon of Barcelona and its Art Nouveau history open to the public. The grand gardens, colorful mosaics, water features and sunlit courtyard certainly helped many patients through the healing process over the years, while a modern exhibition showcases other highlights of the building, as well as the operational procedures of the hospital itself.

Exploration of many Barcelona UNESCO World Heritage Sites is included with several Crystal Adventures in the city, or create your own discoveries of these treasures with Crystal Private Adventures.

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