25 Magical Photos of Barcelona That You Wish You'd Taken Yourself

| © Rose-Ann Hallgren
Tara Jessop

The Catalan capital is without a doubt one of the most photogenic cities in Europe. These pictures really stand out for their ability to capture the magic of Barcelona.
One of the reasons many people come to Barcelona is to admire the work of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Here the reflection of one of his buildings in the Park Güell can be seen in a pool of water.

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Reflection of the Park Güell

Home to some of the oldest attractions in Spain, Tibidabo Amuseument Park is located to the east of the city on the mountain from which it gets its name. The brightly coloured Ferris wheel offers exceptional panoramic views of the city.

The ferris wheel at Tibidabo

The Correfoc – or ‘Fire-run’ in Catalan is an ancient folklore tradition in Catalonia and is performed at popular celebrations throughout the year. Men, women and children dress as devils and other ghoulish creatures before dancing in the crowds with fireworks and sparklers.

A Correfoc at the Gracià Festa Major in 2013

The Sardana is a popular dance which dates back to at least the Middle Ages, although some believe it originates in Ancient Roman tradition. Men and women gather in a circle and join hands to dance to the sound of a live band called a coral.

Dancing la sardana

The MACBA is Barcelona’s prestigious contemporary art museum, located in the heart of the El Raval. It’s also a skate-boarding hotspot attracting dozens of skaters each day.

Skater at the MACBA

The streets of the Old Town of Barcelona are remarkably narrow at times, pre-dating the introduction of cars. Being so close together, the buildings create shade on the street to protect passers-by from the heat of the sun.

Narrow streets of Barcelona

La Boqueria is Barcelona’s most famous fresh food market and has existed in its current position on La Rambla since the Middle Ages. In recent years the market has become a popular attraction for travellers, which many locals see as modifying the market’s character as traders adapt to the tourists’ expectations.

La Boqueria

The Catalan capital is the third most densely populated city in Europe after Paris and Athens. While the modern neighbourhoods such as Eixample have wide roads and squares, the older part of town is a network of narrow, intertwining streets.

The city of Barcelona

One of the most astounding traditions of the Catalan culture, castels are a practice of creating human pyramids according to specific formations and rules. Men, women and children take part, the smallest ones being the bravest as they must climb to the very top – a sometimes perilous feat.

The castellers

One of the most important parts of the castell is the base, known as the pinya, which gives the castel strength and stability. It’s not uncommon to see members of competing teams help consolidate the pinya by joining in.


The Raval was once a no-go area where crime, drug abuse and prostitution were rife. Today it is a vibrant, multi-cultural neighbourhood with a rich artistic and social life despite still being a relatively poor area.

Kids playing in the Raval

Barcelona’s beach and port area are popular tourist sights and as a result they are also hotspots for traders selling everything from henna tattoos to handbags and Indian shawls.

A street vendor on Barcelona beach

The Port Vell – ‘Old Port’ in Catalan – is Barcelona’s historic marina and has harboured boats since the 4th century BC. Today the port is changing and many of the berths are now reserved for exclusive super-yachts.

The Port Vell

Further up the coast, the Port Olympic is Barcelona’s newer harbour, constructed ahead of the 1992 Olympics. Today it is home to a number of night-clubs, late night bars and other entertainment hotspots.

The Port Olympic

Located at the tip of the Barceloneta pier, the W Hotel has changed the face of Barcelona’s urban landscape. Seen by some as a symbol of the changing character of the port – from fisherman’s quarter to exclusive resort – it’s one of the most luxurious hotels in Barcelona.

The W Hotel

The beach is lined with a number of impressive monuments and architectural wonders. La Estrella Herida – ‘the Wounded Star’ – is an homage to the people who lived in shantytowns on the beach before it was redeveloped for the 1992 Olympic Games.

La Estrella Herida

The Montjuïc Communications Tower was designed by controversial architect Ricardo Bofil for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Today it is a public attraction which defines the Barcelona skyline.

The Olympic park

The Magic Fountain offers a spectacular show of colour and music as over 3500 nozzles squirt water in rhythm with music. The fountain’s repertoire includes popular songs from Disney movies, classic film theme tunes and pop hits.

The Magic Fountain

The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) is the premier museum dedicated to Catalan art. It is housed within a former royal palace, constructed for the 1929 International Exhibition.


The Ciutadella Park is located in the heart of Barcelona, next to the El Born neighbourhood. Home to a zoo as well as the Catalan National Parliament, the park also houses a stunning waterfall – seen here from the side.

The Park Ciutadella

Barcelona’s cathedral is one of the city’s main attractions, however few people know that the building’s facade is not in fact the original Gothic design. The cathedral was renovated in the 19th century in keeping with neo-Gothic trends of the time – more ornate than the original.

The Cathedral in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter

One of the many architectural quirks of Barcelona, the Arc de Triomf is reminiscient of the Parisian icon of the same name. It was designed by the Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas as the main entrance to the city for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair.

The Arc de Triomf

Everyone who comes to Barcelona gets a glimpse of the outside of the Sagrat Cor Basilica, located on the very top of Tibidabo mountain, overlooking the city below. Only a few make the hike to visit the inside.

The Tibidabo chapel

The Sagrada Família is Barcelona’s most famous landmark – despite not even being finished yet. The work of Antoni Gaudí, it is a fine example of Catalan modernism and one of Spain’s most treasured monuments. Here the picture is taken from beneath, looking up into its ornate vaulted archway.

Inside the Sagrada Família

Fireworks are a big part of any celebration here in Barcelona, but La Mercè – the festival for the patron saint of Barcelona – is one of the biggest occasions of the year and usually boasts the best pyrotechnic displays.

Fireworks at sea
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