It’s a fabulous warm Mediterranean night and I am prepared to meet a stranger… a beautiful stranger with many faces, Barcelona. I will not introduce you to the city this time, but just take you on a night-time fast dance to feel the pulse of the city. Prepared? Let’s go!
The starting point is Plaça de Catalunya, a 19th century large square where modern Barcelona meets medieval Barcelona. By night, its neoclassical and avant-garde statues are beautifully illuminated, receiving young people enjoying the late hours. In fact, it is the gathering place for tourists, anti-government protesters and pigeons. It is also the focal point of important avenues: Passeig de Gracia with its Gaudi houses, Rambla de Catalunya and La Rambla with restaurants and artisans and Portal del Angel, one of the most densely populated streets in the city.
Next, I see Tour Agbar, part of what we call contemporary Barcelona. Inaugurated in 2005, the highly controversial work of the architect Jean Nouvel has a curious shape similar to Sagrada Familia, Mountain Montserrat or to a geyser. The 144.4 m sky-scraper that hosts the water company has been several times accused of intentionally being illuminated with the colours of Barcelona Football Club.
Moving forward, I arrive at Sagrada Familia, the landmark of Barcelona. When finished (in 2026, after a century of works), it will be the tallest building in the city. The temple which can be considered Gaudi’s masterpiece has three façades: the birth, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the future of mankind. Each façade corresponds to a season and details like fruit or flowers decorate the numerous towers. (More to come about it in a future post, I promise!).
I continue with Gaudi’s work and here it is Casa Milo or La Pedrera. Its stone decorations remind people of the tides of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the balconies in form of the reefs. It is part of the UNESCO patrimony. The project was also controversial, as Gaudi, in his attempt to become a priest, wanted to dedicate the house to Virgin Mary, but the sanctuary like elements have been removed by the authorities.
A longer stop follows in front of the National Museum of Catalonia Art. It is at Font de Montjuic in Plaça d’Espanya, the epicenter of some major boulevards decorated with two Venetian towers, close to Parc Joao Miro and Arenas de Barcelona. Here, at around 11 o’clock, the square hosts a magical show of music and lights. The classical music plays and the divine game of lights transport my mind to the time of the Arabs and Scheherazade. It is a breathless half an hour for which there is no word to capture the beauty, romance and enchantment of the vivid liquid colours moving along with the divine sounds.
Next, I see Mirador de Colom, a 40m monument built in 1865 dedicated to Columbus pointing towards the New World. The monument encompasses griffins, victories, people related to Columbus and it shows the most important scenes of his journeys towards America. There are several copies of this monument, one in the Mini-Europe exhibition in Brussels.
After 2 hours and a half, the tour ends in the same Plaça de Catalunya. I stay in a surrealistic mood dominated by Gaudi and the magical fountains. It will take time to wake up and re-encounter myself after the ravishing mid-night meeting at a ball with a masked stranger, Barcelona.
This article is part of a series on Barcelona. You can also read a presentation of La Sagrada Familia.