Barcelona is a city that is constantly reinventing itself. For better or for worse, the 1992 Olympic Games brought radical change to the urban landscape of the city and consolidated its status as a major European tourist destination. Today, the old and the new live on side by side, giving the city its unique character and unmistakable charm.
In the Old Town of Barcelona, around the Gothic Quarter and the Born, sleepy streets are lined with ancient buildings that have stood their ground for centuries – and stand in stark contrast with the bustling crowds that pass by there each day along the main tourist routes. Imposing wooden doors guard quiet courtyards and hidden gems of tapas bars, while balconies overflow with succulent plants and net curtains flap in the wind.
Step outside the historic centre of Barcelona, and the modern transformation of the city is immediately visible. In Poblenou – a former industrial area rapidly becoming a major hub for arts, technology and business – converted warehouses harbour co-working spaces and design studios, alongside some of Barcelona’s most modern architectural symbols: the Torre Agbar and Barcelona’s Design Museum.
To get a little perspective on things, a trip to the heights of Tibidabo is guaranteed to give you a memorable view of the city as you look down the impressively straight avenues of Eixample, interrupted only by the few landmarks that pre-existed the 19th-century ‘extension’ (‘eixample’ in Catalan) of the city: the Sagrada Família being the most astounding.
In the end, it seems there’s something to be appreciated in every corner of Barcelona, whether it’s breathtaking architecture or simple scenes of daily life in this awe-inspiring Mediterranean capital.