Fins aviat, Barcelona!


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Barcelona is a great city to discover on foot. Fill up on tapas and pintxos along the way.

Facing the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is a delight when it comes to architecture, historical monuments, beaches, food, and a well-designed infrastructure. Before you begin your exploration of the city, discover the city’s historical wealth at the Museu d’Història de Barcelona.

Some museums and landmarks have discounts for students and seniors. For others, I recommend a Pass and it will save you a bit of money.

The Barcelona Turisme website is a handy resource.


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Pxley Extra:

In this Pxley Extra, James Payne explains one of Picasso’s masterpieces, Guernica. [Note: Guernica is exhibited in Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.]

Discover the Beauty of Valencia

A port city on the eastern part of Spain, Valencia is a 2-hr train ride from Madrid and 3-hrs from Barcelona.

In spite of being the third largest city in Spain, Valencia is a walking city and easy to get around. Its architectural beauty will leave you inspired – from the Gothic art of the Silk Exchange to Calatrava’s work in the river bed.

Enjoy some paella, catch a home game of Valencia football club or head out to the beach and relax.

L'Umbracle

At the City of Arts and Sciences, L'Umbracle is a landscaped walk with plants that are indigenous to Valencia, Spain. Situated in the dry river bed of Turia, the City of Arts and Sciences was designed by Santiago Calatrava and comprises of an opera house and performing arts center, an IMAX and planetarium, a walkway and garden, a science and oceanographic museum, and a park.

L'Hemisfèric and El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía

Surrounded by water, the planetarium is the centerpiece of the City of Arts and Sciences. The "pupil" inside the eye-shaped construction is the dome of the IMAX theater. The steel and glass shutter, the "eyelid," opens and closes with the help of hydraulic lifts.

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía is an opera house and cultural center of the city of Valencia.

El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe

Resembling a prehistoric-skeleton, the Science Museum is an interactive museum where visitors are encouraged to engage with the exhibits. A sign inside the museum reads, "It is prohibited not to touch, not to feel, not to think."

Gargoyle on Pont del Regne

A guardian gargoyle sculpture over Pont del Regne bridge. The bridge connects two main city arteries – Avenida del Regne and Avenida de França – and is laid over the city park created after the Turia river was drained.

Turia Fountain, Plaça de la Verge

Located in the Plaza de la Virgen, the fountain represents the Turia river surrounded by its tributaries. The plaza is bounded by the Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, Cathedral of Santa Maria, and Palace of the Generalitat.

Iglesia del Convento Antiguo del Carmen

Founded in 1280, this former convent displays different architectural styles and is one of the best preserved monuments of Valencia. Located on a quiet square, the church was built for the Order of Carmelites until they were expelled in XIX century. The convent is now an art venue – Museo del Carmen.

Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas

Designed originally in 1740 by Ignacio Vergara, the building has gone through many architectural changes combining rococo, neo-classical, and oriental elements. Located within the palace is the Museo Nacional de Cerámica González Martí that has a collection of local and artisanal ceramics.

The main entrance has an elaborate alabaster sculpture – a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary above the door flanked by two streams of water with vegetation symbolizing life-giving properties.

Lonja de los Mercaderes

A masterpiece of Gothic architecture with Renaissance decoration, the Silk Exchange was the center of Valencia's commerce. Declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, "the site is of outstanding universal value as it is a wholly exceptional example of a secular building in late Gothic style, which dramatically illustrates the power and wealth of one of the great Mediterranean mercantile cities."

Mercado Central

Entrance to the Central Market in Valencia. The market is one of the oldest running food markets in Europe. Over 900 food stalls sell fruits and vegetables, cheese, spices, seafood, cured meats, and more. The central dome of the market is decorated with stained glass oranges and lemons, which represents the typical produce of the region. Like most smaller European cities, the mom and pop stores in Valencia close for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Mercado Central is a must-visit.

Mercado Central

Valencia is a major orange producing region. In addition to the orange orchards, you will see orange trees all over the city but some of these are ornamental. Aigua de Valencia is an orange cocktail, which you can buy from La Bodeguilla located in the market.

Mercado Central

A ham stall in the Central Market.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral incorporates several architectural styles dating as far back as the 13th century. A Tribunal de las Aguas is held once a week in front of the cathedral to resolve irrigation disputes. Beside the main entrance to the cathedral is the Miguelete belfry, which is octagonal and has a spiral stairway [207 steps] leading up to the terrace with views of the city and sea.

Catedral de Valencia

The Cathedral has various architectural styles, from the Romanesque to baroque. There are a variety of precious objects in the Treasury. The most celebrated treasure is a chalice known as the Santo Caliz, which is said to be the famous Holy Grail. The authenticity of this claim has been debated but experts have dated the Santo Caliz to the 1st century BC.

View from El Miguelte

An octagonal bell-tower, it is a landmark of Valencia. Climbing the 207 steps is worth the effort. Your reward is the 360˚ views of the city.