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SPAIN



BARCELONA



Barcelona is located on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the Mediterranean Sea. It is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid. About five million people live in the metropolitan area. It is also Europe's largest metropolis on the Mediterranean coast. Barcelona is today one of the world's leading cultural centres. It has a rich history in art, architecture, fashion and commerce which all contribute to it's cosmopolitan feel. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world. It has a huge number of attractions including a city centre which retains its medieval street plan; one of the world's most famous streets (the Ramblas, shown, right), some stunning modernist architecture including several buildings by Gaudi (the Sagrada Familia, the Casa Milà...), Spain's most famous architect; dozens of museums including one dedicated to Picasso, another to Miró and yet another to Barcelona's world famous football club, Barça! Barcelona is almost as lively at night as it is during the day and it has a unique, exciting atmosphere, which provides the visitor with a truly unforgettable experience.

Entrance to La Sagrada Família,
Gaudi's masterpiece
Photo: EKG

Sagrada Família
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família commonly known as the Sagrada Família, is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. Gaudí took over the project in 1883 and combined Gothic and curvilinear, Modernista forms with ambitious structural columns and arches. Today Sagrada Família stands now as the international symbol of Barcelona.

Park Güell
Park Güell is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí".While entrance to the Park is free, Gaudí's house, "la Torre Rosa," — containing furniture that he designed — can be only visited for an entrance fee. There is a reduced rate for those wishing to see both Park Güell and the Sagrada Família Church. The large cross at the Park's high-point offers the most complete view of Barcelona and the bay. It is possible to view the main city in panorama, with the Sagrada Familia and the Montjuïc area visible at a distance.

Park Güell
Photo: EBG

Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música Catalana is a concert hall in Barcelona. The Palau is located on a cramped street, the Carrer de Sant Francesc de Paula, in the section of old Barcelona known as La Ribera. Designed in the Catalan modernista style by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, it was built between 1905 and 1908 for the Orfeó Català. In 1997, the Palau de la Música Catalana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Hospital de Sant Pau. Today, more than half a million people a year attend musical performances in the Palau that range from symphonic and chamber music to jazz and Cançó (Catalan song).

Palau de la Música Catalana
Photo: Josep Renalias

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, abbreviated as MNAC is a museum of Catalan visual art located in Barcelona, Catalonia. It is housed in the Palau Nacional, built for the 1929 World's Fair. Situated on the Montjuïc hill at the end of Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina. The museum thus combines Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art collections from the Museu d'Art de Catalunya with the 19th and 20th century art collections of the Museu d'Art Modern, and incorporated the Gabinet de Dibuixos i Gravats (Department of Drawings and Prints), the Gabinet Numismàtic de Catalunya (Catalonia Department of Numismatics; coinage and medals) and the Biblioteca d'Història de l'Art (Art History Library).

Catalunya National Museum of Art
Photo: Sergi Larripa

Cathedral of Santa Eulalia
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia also known as Barcelona Cathedral, is the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, Spain. The neo-Gothic façade was constructed over the nondescript exterior that was common to Catalan churches in the 19th century. The roof is notable for its gargoyles, featuring a wide range of animals, both domestic and mythical.

Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. It stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to Ronda de Sant Pere. Despite several changes undergone in the 19th and early 20th century, many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. Remains of the squared Roman Wall can be seen around Tapineria and Sots-Tinent Navarro to the north, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west and Carrer de la Palla to the south. The Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening out into squares. Most of the quarter is closed to regular traffic although open to service vehicles and taxis.



Neogothic-style bridge by architect Joan Rubió
over Carrer del in Barcelona

La Rambla
La Rambla is a street in central Barcelona, popular with both tourists and locals alike. A 1.2 kilometer-long tree-lined pedestrian mall between Barri Gòtic and El Raval, it connects Plaça Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus monument at Port Vell. The name rambla refers to an intermittent water flow in both Catalan and Spanish, and is derived from the Arabic 'ramla' which means 'sandy riverbed'. The name of the city of Ramla, now in Israel, shares the same origin.

Columbus Monument
The Columbus Monument is a 60 m (197 ft) tall monument for Christopher Columbus at the lower end of La Rambla, Barcelona, Spain. It was constructed for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona (1888) and is located at the site where Columbus returned to Spain after his first voyage to the Americas. At the very top of the monument stands a 7.2 m (24 ft) tall bronze statue atop a 40 m (131 ft) tall Corinthian column. The statue was sculpted by Rafael Atché and is said to depict Columbus pointing towards the New World with his right hand, while holding a scroll in the left.

View over the Rambla

Santa Maria del Pi
Santa Maria del Pi is a 14th century Gothic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It is situated on the Plaça del Pi, in the Barri Gòtic district of the city. The original style of the church was Catalan Gothic, with a single nave almost devoid of ornamentation. However in 1936 the church was gutted by a fire and was later restored in a more modern ornamental Gothic style. The bell tower is octagonal in shape, rising to 54 metres. The walls at the base are 3.55 metres thick. It has a peal of six bells, of which the largest is "Antònia", which has a diameter of 1.4 metres and weighs 1,806 kilograms.



Barceloneta Beach
Beaches
Barcelona is listed first among the Top 10 Beach Cities in the world by National Geographic. Barcelona contains seven beaches, totalling 4.5 km (2.8 mi) of coastline. Sant Sebastià and Barceloneta beaches, both 1,100 m (3,610 ft) in length, are the largest, oldest and the most frequented beaches in Barcelona. The Olympic port separates them from the other city beaches: Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant. Barceloneta beach gained status as the best urban beach in the World and total third best beach in the World, according the documentary film "Worlds Best Beaches" produced by Discovery Channel in 2005.

Arc de Triomf de Arte Reina Sofía
The Arc de Triomf is an archway structure in Barcelona, Catalonia. It was built for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona (1888), as its main access gate by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas. The arch is built in reddish brickwork in the Moorish Revival style. The front frieze contains the stone sculpture "Barcelona rep les nacions" (Catalan for "Barcelona welcomes the nations") by Josep Reynés. The opposite frieze contains a stone carving named "Recompense", a work from the earliest period of Josep Llimona. The arch is located between Passeig de Lluís Companys and Passeig de Sant Joan, at the end of a wide promenade connecting with the Park of the Ciutadella.

Arc de Triomphe de Barcelone








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Festivals & Events




Seville Fair

The Feria de abril de Sevilla, literally Seville April Fair, is held in the Andalusian capital of Seville, Spain. The fair generally begins two weeks after the Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week. The fair officially begins at midnight on Monday, and runs six days, ending on the following Sunday. Each day the fiesta begins with the parade of carriages and riders, at midday, carrying Seville's leading citizens which make their way to the bullring, La Real Maestranza, where the bullfighters and breeders meet.


Casetas at Seville Fair
Photo: EdTarwinski

San Fermín

The festival of San Fermín is renowned for it's celebratory tradition and is held in Pamplona anually on the 6th July. It is known locally as Sanfermines and is held in honour of Saint Fermin. This festival is important in terms of Spanish folklore and tradition. The week long fiesta is most famous for it's encierro (running of the bulls). It is belived that a million people flock to see this event every year. The opening of the fiesta is marked by setting off the pyrotechnic chupinazo. The rocket is launched at 12:00 noon on the 6th of July from a city hall balcony with thousands of people celebrating the act in the city hall square and other locations in Pamplona.


San Fermín Festival seen from
the Town Hall in Pamplona
Photo: Viajar24h

Fiestas del Pilar

Fiestas del Pilar is a large festival that takes place in Zaragoza, Spain. This festival is religiously rooted in Spain and based on the belief that Virgin Mary appeared to Saint James standing on a pillar. The celebration lasts for seven days during which the city is bustling with energy as over two million people visit the city for this fiesta. Every day at 8 o'clock in the morning there is an event called vaquillas, that is amateur bullfighting in the towns bullfighting ring, or Plaza de toros. Everyone who is brave enough, can participate in this event, in which many people get injured every year. The most important celebration takes place on the 12th October, "The offering of flowers" to the Virgin, who is removed from the Basilica and exhibited in a platform placed on the square where the temple lies. The Offering of Flowers is one of the more famous festive symbols of Spain.


San Fermín Festival seen from
Bull running in Barcelona
Photo: BPG

Carnival

Carnival is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party. The Santa Cruz de Tenerifeand Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is together with the Carnival of Cadiz, the most important festival for Spanish tourism and Spain's largest carnival. In Catalonia people dress up and organise parties for a week but particularly on the weekend. Despite it being winter, parties are open air, beginning with a cercavila to call everybody to come. Rues of people dance along the streets. On Thursday Dijous Gras is celebrated, also called 'the omelette day' and omelettes are eaten. Parties end by burning Mr. Carnestoltes and with enterrament de la sardina (sardine's funeral). Carnaval de Solsona takes place in Solsona, Lleida in central Catalonia. It is one of the longest carnivals in Catalonia; free events in the streets, and concerts every night, run for more than a week.


Barcelona harbour
Photo: BPG

Festival Internacional de Benicàssim

The Festival Internacional de Benicàssim is an annual music festival sponsored by a well known beer label which takes place in the village of Benicàssim, province of Castelló, Valencian Community in Spain. It focuses mainly on pop, rock and electronica artists, as well as having other elements besides music like short films, theatre, fashion and art. Since the first festival in 1995, some of the most notable artists who have played the festival include Paul Weller, Depeche Mode, Beck, Radiohead, Kraftwerk, The Stone Roses, Brian Wilson, Blur, Lou Reed, Oasis, The Chemical Brothers, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Morrissey, Sigur Rós, Ride and The Strokes. As of 28 January, the line up for the 2011 Festival is as follows: Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, Portishead, The Strokes, Beirut, Catpeople, Elbow, Friendly Fires, Julieta Venegas, Lori Meyers, Primal Scream (present Screamadelica), The Streets, Tinie Tempah, The Coronas, Grupo Salvaje, The Marzipan Man Smile, Veronica Falls, Paolo Nutini, Pendulum, Mahmiri Acar. 'FIB' is held in the seaside resort of Benicassim (Castellón province) on Costa del Azahar, Valencia, Spain, 92.2 km away from Valencia Airport. Festival goers who have purchased multi-day passes can camp for up to 9 days starting Monday before the festival starts and ending Tuesday after the festival has ended. For more information please contact info@fiberfib.com



Festimad

Festimad is an alternative rock festival and cultural event held yearly in Madrid, Spain since 1994, usually in the last week of May. Festimad includes several parallel cultural festivals such as Performa, Graffiti, Universimad o Cinemad, although its central event continues to be the music festival, standing alongside the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim as Spain's main rock concert. For more information please contact festimad@festimad.es


Photo: BPG

Bilbao Live Festival

The Bilbao Live Festival is a rock and pop music festival that takes place in the summer in Bilbao, Spain since 2006. It is supported by BBK the savings bank. Some 51,000 people attended the first edition of Bilbao Live Festival in 2006, an event that reunited during three days more than 40 national and international bands of rock and carps of electronic music. Bilbao had thus burst in with force into the circuit of great musical festivals of the summer time. The 2011 lineup includes Coldplay, Blondie, Beady Eye, Crystal Castles, Russian Red, Ken Zazpi, Amy Winehouse, Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs, The Black Crowes, The Chemical Brothers, Jack Johnson, 30 Seconds to Mars, M-Clan. For more information please contact festivals@nme.com

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