Saturday in Barcelona

Saturday is the big day of the weekend, for it will be the day that will allow more visits and routes around the city. There are many options available for a Saturday in Barcelona, whether you want to hit the museums route or go for a day of sightseeing around town. Both options will confront you with many artistic expressions, for the artistic spirit of the city is present in all of its faces.

If you decide to go for the museum route, you have many possibilities to choose from (as we said in the opening page of the article), so we will try to present you two or three interesting options. If you already went for a stroll down Las Ramblas and the Raval, and took the chance to visit the MACBA, you might as well want to visit its little brother, the CCCB, or Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (Carrer de Montalegre, 5), an avant-garde museum which only programs temporary exhibits and events, and works with associated acts like Sónar or the experimental music festival Emergència!. In the summer months there is a nice outdoor place to sit and enjoy a cold drink after the cultural immersion.

A less modern option would be getting to know the city's history at the Barcelona History Museum (Plaça del Rei, s/n), a very interesting tour around some of Barcelona's oldest underground ruins and the city's past. You will be discovered the origins of the city of Barcino, the Roman foundations of today's Barcelona, through its stoned ways, to the visigoth Barchinona of the VII century. This section of the museum is completed by an architectural complex that contains the Palau Reial, the Sta. Àgata Chapel and the Casa Padellàs, as well as the ruins of an old Roman temple. There are many other sections and buildings spread around the city, so if you want to complete the visit, it will surely take the whole day -and maybe part of the Sunday-.

Museu d'Art

Another interesting cultural visit is the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, a impressive architectural complex built on the hill of Montjuic with the ocassion of the 1929 Universal Exhibition. The collections and exhibitions are both permanent and temporary, and there is a special focus on photographic art. The permanent collection focuses on Catalan art from medieval religious art to modernist and avant-garde Catalan painters like Ramón Casas, Maria Fortuny or Picasso (even though he was not Catalan, his artistic career took off in Catalonia). The impressive building of the museum is also an art form in itself, and contains an impressive library and a gorgeous round hall in which celebrations are sometimes held.

Very close to it, uphill Montjuic, is another interesting visit, the Joan Miró Foundation (Avenida de Miramar, s/n), a quaint building, representative of the Catalan rationalist architecture, on the top of Muntjuic with an excellent view of the city that already pays for the trip and the ticket. The museum contains many of the works of the artist Joan Miró, from sketches to drawings, paintings and sculptures, and also programs many contemporary art temporal exhibitions.

Leaving Montjuic, you will be able to check the Caixa Forum (Avinguda del Marquès de Comillas, 6 - 8), a private foundation supported by the Catalan bank La Caixa that offers a rotating offer of temporary exhibitions on various subjects, art forms and proposals. It is a great option for those who want to have access to many different cultural activities, and they are mainly free, except for some punctual events like concerts or other special programs. One of the most interesting features, especially if you are travelling with children, is the Art Lab, where they will be able to let free the small artist inside of them. Right next to it is the Mies van der Rohe Pavillion (Avinguda de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 7), another "leftover" from the 1929 Universal Exhibition, a unique building that was actually dismantled and reconstructed again in the eighties by request of the city's chief of urbanism. The building is an innovative form of architecture that influenced the development of modern architecture, in terms of space organization and design.

Back into the city's centre, and more focused on religious art, there is a nice itinerary to complete on a Saturday in Barcelona around the Barrio Gótic. The route starts in the famous Plaça Catalunya, starting point of many routes around the city. Right next to it, beside the busy square and streets around it, there is a small haven of peace in the carrer Rivadeneyra, 3, the Church of St. Anne, a XI century gothic church with Romanic foundations that is still today the headquarters of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which even celebrates an annual mass in it. The next stop would be Barcelona's Cathedral -not the Sagrada Familia, which eclipses this gothic monument-, located on the Pla de la Seu. This is a very beautiful example of gothic architecture and has a very nice cloister with a famous swan fountain that everyone photographs.

Felipe Neri

Very close to it is the church of St. Felipe Neri, a small baroque church situated on the square of the same name that makes up one of Barcelona's cosiest and most intimate corners, and an image that will stay in your memory for quite some time, even though it is not the typical modernist Barcelona postcard picture. To complete the route, you shouldn't miss the gothic grace and elegance of the third of Barcelona's cathedrals, the Cathedral of Sta. María del Mar (Carrer dels Sombrerers, 6). The entrance is free, and you will be impressed by its breathtaking height and construction. A funny story behind its history is that its preservation was possible only through the intervention of the local fishermen, who even contributed economically to save the temple.

Another option for a Saturday in Barcelona, if you want to stay away from the stones of the churches and the white light of museums, would be spending the afternoon in the famous Tibidabo hill, where you can find the Sacred Heart church, and an amusement park next to it, both set on one of Barcelona's highest hills. There you can visit the "alabaster" like church, or enjoy in the different rides the park offers, while having a unique view of the city at the same time. There is also an open air cinema in the summer nights there. Another good park option is going to the centric Park of the Cuitadella, a nice and quiet spot in the middle of the city (near Arc de Triomf metro station) with a big lake and a zoo in it, apart from its beautiful gardens. On a hot summer evening it is very nice to just row a boat to the middle of the lake and relax with the peace around you.

After your visits are completed and if you feel the need to relax or take a bite, we recommend that you visit the inside patio of the Antic Teatre (Carrer de Verdaguer i Callís, 12), an old houses building turned into a cultural centre with a comfortable and nice setting. They organize all sorts of cultural activities, project movies and organize concerts, so if you stop for a fresh beer in its patio, you will probably come across a very interesting performance.


About the food options, there are many places to choose from in Barcelona's Born neighbourhood, but we will recommend you two: if you want to go for the fancy option, there is a nice traditional restaurant called the 7 Portes (Passeig d'Isabel II, 14), and is specialised in traditional Catalan food, especially rice. This place is one of the city's oldest culinary gems, and since it opened in 1836 many celebrities have visited it and delighted themselves with its cooking.

A more relaxed and informal option would be the Cuines Santa Caterina (Avinguda de Francesc Cambó, 16), modern style market-like restaurant in which you can check the fresh products first and then have them cooked on the spot for you. The variety, then, is assured, and you will be able to choose anything from vegetarian, oriental food, rice, to the very recommendable dish of the day, all of them at a very affordable and economic price. Anyone who visits it for a nice dinner on a Saturday in Barcelona will happily recommend the establishment to friends or acquaintances going to the city for a trip.

As for the night options, you have many to choose from, but here are the two main classic venues for the Saturday night in Barcelona: the Razzmatazz (Carrer de Pamplona, 88) and the Apolo (Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 111). The former is a basic reference in the Barcelona nights: a huge macro-discotheque with five different dance floors that vary all sorts of music styles, from dance to indie rock music. The Apolo, another classic destination is more indie pop-rock oriented, although in the upper floor there is a change to dance to anything from salsa to disco music.