Barcelona is the capital and largest city of Catalonia, and the second most populous municipality of Spain.
Founded as a Roman city, in the Middle Ages Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural center and a major tourist destination. Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Barcelona was prominent in the news before, during, and after our trip as the ongoing issue of Catalan independence was taking place, primarily in Barcelona with many rallies and even some violence. The referendum for independence was passed by the Parliament of Catalonia on October 1, 2017.
It was declared illegal on September 7, 2017 and suspended by the Constitutional Court of Spain after a request from the Spanish government, who declared it a breach of the Spanish Constitution of 1978. International observers invited by the government of Spain, declared that the referendum failed to meet the minimum international standards for elections.
In spite of the Spanish government declaring the referendum illegal, the Catalan government proceeded with the vote for independence. Voters answered with "Yes" or "No", to the question "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?". The "Yes" side won, with 2,044,038 (92.01%) voting for independence and 177,547 (7.99%) voting against, on a turnout of only 43.03%. The Catalan government estimated that up to 770,000 votes were not cast due to polling stations being closed off during the police crackdown.
The day after we arrived in Barcelona, the president of Catalan declared independence. The next day the Spanish government dissolved the parliament of Catalan and threatened to arrest whoever defied it. The following day, the president of Catalan and a number of his cabinet ministers left the country to seek asylum in Belgium.
This was all playing out during our time in Barcelona and virtually across the street from our hotel. It was an interesting, exciting, and challenging time to be in Barcelona.
HOTEL ARTS BARCELONA RITZ CARLTON
This is the best hotel to stay in when visiting Barcelona. It is right on the beach but within walking distance of most places you would want to visit.
Exceptional management team
OUR PENTHOUSE PRESIDENTIAL SUITE
See the ultra-modern custom designed Spanish furniture
GAUDI’S SAGRADA FAMILIA
Antoni Gaudí is the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí's works have a highly individualized, and one-of-a-kind style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his main work, the church of the Sagrada Família.
Gaudí's work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. He considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry. Under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Gaudí's work enjoys global popularity and continuing admiration and study by architects. His masterpiece, the still-incomplete Sagrada Família, is the most-visited monument in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
The Sagrada Família is the largest unfinished Roman Catholic church in the world, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Gaudí's work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1882, construction of Sagrada Família started. In 1883 Gaudí took over as chief architect, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.
Relying solely on private donations, Sagrada Familia's construction progressed slowly and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Some of the project's greatest challenges remain, including the construction of ten more spires, each symbolizing an important Biblical figure in the New Testament. It is anticipated that the building could be completed by 2026—the centenary of Gaudí's death.
Gaudí's Roman Catholic faith intensified during his life and religious images appear in many of his works. This earned him the nickname "God's Architect" and led to calls for his beatification.
GAUDI DESIGNED BUILDINGS
ARC DE TRIOMF
The Arc de Triomf is a triumphal arch and was the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair.
On the day we visited the Arc de Triomf, we were also able to take advantage of the wine fair taking place.
LA ROCA VILLAGE
With over 130 fashion boutiques La Roca Village offers a luxury experience.
It was ten miles from our hotel who provided us with complimentary limousine service to take us there and bring us back.
With our hotel being right on the beach, we took a long and enjoyable beach walk.
CATALAN REFERENDUM PROTEST
During stay in Barcelona, there were daily protests for and against Catalan’s independence referendum. We did our best to avoid them. However, in one of our walks, we found ourselves suddenly in the midst of a very civilized, peaceful protest.
On the day that the Catalan President declared Catalan independence, we arrived back at our hotel to find that the hotel staff had balloons, flowers, champagne and chocolates in our suite.