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Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya, one of the richest and most fiercely independent regions in Spain. Catalan people speak their own language and many do not believe themselves to be Spanish. The golden age of Catalunya was around the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, when Barcelona was the centre of the great seafaring empire of Aragon. In addition to Barcelona, Catalunya is made up of the cities of Lleida, Girona and Tarragona, and the long Costa Brava, stretching from the French border to Valencia.
Barcelona has become a real tourist trap for the fantastic mixture of activities on offer there. Its coastal location attracts sun worshipers who enjoy the beach front resorts along the coast, as well as the vibrant nightlife of the city centre. The cultural and historical delights of the town appeal to the sightseer, visiting for a long weekend, and the more active will love hiking in the nearby mountains, where skiing can be found in winter.
The most famous symbol of Barcelona and one sight that all holidaymakers want to visit is Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Even those that have not visited the city will be familiar with the dripping wax image of the main façade. The famous architect began work on this church in 1882, however the task took a long time as the building work relied on donations, and it had not been completed in 1926 when Gaudi was struck by a train and died. Work has since recommenced on the church and much has been added since Gaudi’s death, but there is speculation as to whether the building will ever be completely finished, or in fact whether it really should be.
You can pay to go up inside one of the towers, of which there are now eight, each one over one hundred meters high. The initial design was meant to incorporate eighteen towers, one for each of the twelve apostles, four for the Evangelists, and one each for Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
Other piece of Gaudi’s work can be seen all over the city. You will want to pull the Park Guell, La Pedrera and the Mila house into your itinerary if you possibly can.
You can get detailed information about the sights of Barcelona before you go from your travel agent, the internet, or the tourist information office in Barcelona’s main square once you get there. Make sure you pick up a map showing all the main sights as well as the major stores, restaurants and hotels. Also consider going on a bus tour of the city. It is a great way to get your bearings in a very busy and crowded city, and give you an idea of the distance between places of interest. Talk to your guide, they may be able to give you local information about great eating places and temporary exhibitions that will not be marked on your map. You will never get bored in Barcelona; your only concern will be how to fit in everything you want to see.
Writes for http://www.barcelona-information.com