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Barcelona: A paradise on the Mediterranean

October 10, 2011 - 2:25am
Barcelona: A paradise on the Mediterranean
Situated in the northeastern corner of Spain, Barcelona has become one of the top tourist destinations in Europe, often attracting several million tourists every year. With a rich history, streets lined with impressive architecture and a beautiful coast, it's no surprise that Barcelona has earned its place as a must-see stop during a Mediterranean cruise.

With a history dating back to the Roman Empire, there is no lack of striking buildings throughout Barcelona, but the one that stands out among the rest is The Sagrada Familia. Designed by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi, the immense cathedral has become one of the most iconic representations of Barcelona.

Construction began on the church in 1882 and though Gaudi worked on it until his death in 1926, the building remains unfinished to this day. Work is expected to continue over the next decade. Even still, the unique structure draws around 2.3 million visitors each year who come to appreciate the immense scope of the project.

While The Sagrada Familia is considered to be modern architecture, Barcelona is replete with buildings dating back centuries. In particular, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia was completed in the 1400s and has become well-known for the litany of gargoyles and other animals that adorn its towering roof.

Of course, Barcelona has much more than just impressive architecture. The city features 68 municipal parks, the largest of which is Montjuïc. This broad, shallow hill offers visitors a breathtaking view of the city's harbor and is home to a botanical garden and cemetery where some of Barcelona's most famous residents are buried.

Also located in the park is the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. Built in 1929, the large fountain features light and music performances between 9 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on Thursdays through Sundays between May and September.

Barcelona is also known for having some of the best urban beaches in the world, and La Barceloneta is one of the most popular. In addition to offering tourists the opportunity catch some rays along the shores of the Mediterranean, Barceloneta is well-known for its boardwalk, which is home to innumerable restaurants and bars.