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Gràcia is one of the most popular areas in Barcelona, thanks to its bustling squares, alternative ambience and this neighbourhood festival (festa major), which sees locals decorate many of its streets and is this year celebrating its 200th anniversary. But the decorations don't just involve throwing up some bunting and balloons. Associations for each street involved spend months coming up with a theme, collecting the items needed for their decorations (often recycled objects) and creating the papier-mâché constructions that they hope will win them one of the prizes for best dressed street. Beach scenes, creatures of all shapes and sizes, characters from literature, and simple but beautiful, light-filled abstract images – the fact that they will only be up for a week or so doesn't ever mean that participants stint on ideas and effort. It's not just about the décor though, with concerts, stalls selling food and drink and much more attracting visitors throughout the day and especially at night.
"I'd already enjoyed visiting the Gràcia neighbourhood, but when its main festival arrived and its streets were decked out in amazing decorations on different themes, and the squares hosted concerts and other events, all I could do was think of moving here to live."
Barcelona celebrates the end of summer with a city festival to honour one of its patron saints, La Mercè, whose feast day is September 24. It's a huge party with many free activities for all ages that take place across the city.
Among the most popular are the procession of 'giants' and 'big heads', elaborate papier-mâché constructions that represent both historical characters and fantastical beasts, the display of castellers ('human towers') in front of City Hall, and the correfoc, which literally means 'fire run' and sees demons with firecrackers dancing with well-protected members of the public under their showers of sparks.
There are also concerts, audiovisual shows and contributions from a guest city, this year Reykjavík.
Featuring at BAM this year are performances by the bands Reykjavíkurdætur, Grísalappalísa and Samarios. There is also the piano music of Kiasmos, the young singer Glowie and several other artists including Emmsjé Gauti, JFDR and Ólöf Arnalds.
Ciutadella Park hosts numerous events including theatre and dance shows.
At night, fireworks fill the sky with fabulous pyrotechnic displays befitting such an important fixture on the Barcelona calendar.
"The city pulls out all the stops to celebrate the festival dedicated to one of its patron saints. Hundreds of free activities all over the city blending tradition and the latest trends. You'll be able to see gegants and capgrossos as well as concerts by the latest big names."
Barcelona wouldn’t be Barcelona without the Rambla. A wander up and down this famous boulevard is a ritual well worth observing. Just soak up the atmosphere and admire the buildings, from the Canaletes fountain to the Columbus Monument, which connect the old and modern city with places like Liceu and Boqueria. A walk through the life and history of the city.
Barcelona and its home-grown art nouveau movement, modernisme, go hand in hand. The style emerged in all its glory at the end of the 19th century to reveal itself in hundreds of extremely beautiful buildings which line the way. Let yourself be captivated once again by these masterpieces in a style full of opulence, fantasy, symbolism and colour.
Barcelona is known throughout the world for its architecture. This is why the city didn't want to fall behind in the race to have some of the world's finest contemporary buildings. The names of today's great architects and artists are present in almost every city neighbourhood.
Gaudí is a name associated with Barcelona who needs to be discovered while you admire his finest landmarks: a treasure trove of forms, ideas, symbols and fantasy which is hard to surpass. The Gaudí landmarks in Barcelona give a greater understanding of one of the most famous architects who ever worked in the city.
There are many different sides to Barcelona: the Barcelona with its traditional neighbourhoods, the Gothic, modernista and contemporary city… but there is also a green Barcelona, the Barcelona of parks and gardens. You’ll find them dotted around the city. These green spaces are always interesting, whether it be for their plants, urban design or sculptures.
Barcelona never sleeps. The city has set the benchmark for the international electronic music scene and dances to the sounds of the world's top DJs. It's also the perfect place for lovers of jazz, rock, Latin rhythms and pop.
The city’s longest avenue, the Diagonal, cuts through the two neighbourhoods. To the south, Les Corts, which is a blend of modernity and the rural origins of the area. To the north, the smart residential district of Pedralbes, with its parks, quiet streets and outstanding Gothic monastery..
Get ready for two days of intensive sightseeing which will be full of surprises. Here's an itinerary designed to help you pack as much as possible into 48 hours in the city.
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