Every city is a vast container of just about everything under the sun, accumulated by countless generations, each of which takes the arduous decision on what to save, what to demolish and what to add. During the process, some more unusual relics appear and miraculously survive up until the present, offering an unusual face to the city we thought we knew to perfection. Here are a few of the stranger and less familiar sights to be seen in Barcelona.
Palau de la Música
Barcelona is known for Gaudi’s peculiar, beautiful architecture, but hidden inside Catalonia is the magical Palau de la Música built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Anyone who loves the eccentric architecture of Barcelona is sure to admire the organic shapes, colourful stained glass windows and fine detailing of this concert hall. Here, you will hear everything from classical music to jazz and you might even visit on an occasional poetry night. www.palaumusica.cat
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La Casa de la Misericórdia
La Casa de la Misericórdia © Wikimedia
At Carrer de les Ramelleres 17 in the El Raval district, there are two holes in the wall. The larger is framed in wood, and it was originally a revolving door into which mothers could abandon their unwanted babies. A smaller slot alongside was for donations. The institution was founded in 1581 and became known as La Casa de la Misericórdia. The turntable was in use up until 1931. www.casadelamisericordia.org
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MareNostrum, supercomputer in Barcelona © IBM Research/flickr.com
MareNostrum is the most powerful supercomputer in Spain and it was one of the most powerful computers in Europe, reaching 94.21 Teraflops (94.21 trillion operations per second) in 2006 and on to its current performance of 1.1 Petaflops. It is located in a giant glass and steel box in what used to be a church, Torre Girona. Visits have to be prebooked and are always with a guide. www.bsc.es
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Parc del Laberint d'Horta © JerzyKociakiewicz/flickr.com
The Parc del Laberint d’Horta has a hedge maze, a typical feature of aristocratic gardens in the 19th century. It was planned and developed by the Desvalls family from 1791, and the carefully pruned hedges conceal a route leading to the centre where there is a statue of Eros. It is part of Barcelona’s oldest garden and now a 55-hectare park, which includes the 14th-century mansion Torre Soberana. The garden is open every day from 10am to 6pm in winter, longer in other months.
Botero's cat in Barcelona © Oh-Barcelona.com
This sculpture by Fernando Botero was purchased by Barcelona’s city council in 1987, but it was positioned permanently in the Raval district only in 2003: up until then, as cats do, it had wandered the city, in sites at the zoo, then the Olympic stadium, then the Medieval shipyards, and finally settling in the Raval district. If you don’t like city redevelopment areas, better to miss this. There is another animal sculpture by Botero not far off, the Horse that can be seen in Terminal 2 of Barcelona Airport.
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© Andoni Beristain - Flickr
Tibidabo is the highest point on top of the Collserola mountain range and overlooks all of Barcelona. Not only are the views amazing, there’s also the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, where you can soak up some historical and cultural knowledge and an amusement park where no learning, only fun, is required. For an even greater view of the city, a glass elevator will take you to the observation deck, 560 meters above sea level. www.tibidabo.cat