Whether you’re touring through Europe on a backpacking adventure, heading out for a quick weekend getaway or going for a year long study abroad experience, you will always have a list of attractions and sites to visit where ever you go. In Barcelona, you have you’re must sees – the Sagrada Familia, the Catalan Art Museum, La Rambla and pretty much any Gaudi building. But what about the other side of Barcelona? The road less travelled. The hidden treasures. A city as large, as old and as historical as Barcelona has many layers to discover which might not be so obvious at first. So, if you’d like to see BCN from a less obvious perspective, check out our list below of Barcelona’s Hidden Treasures!
Labyrinth Park of Horta
Also known as the Jardins del Laberint d’Horta, Horta Park is the oldest neo-classical/romantismo garden in all of Barcelona. The garden was originally built for the private estate of the prominent Desvalls family in the late 1700’s. Since then it has been expanded and elaborated until it became less of a garden, and more of a park, which is now open to the public! Today when you visit the park you will find gardens, sculptures, fountains, a small river, gothic monuments, the Desvalls Palace, several terraces and a labyrinth!
The Catalans call it Museu de la Xocolata, but no matter what language you use, it always sounds delicious! The museum is located in the old Sant Agustí monastery, – where monks once made chocolate for the local military men in the 18th century – and is supported by the Barcelona Provincial Confectionery Guild (who knew there was such a thing!?). Aside from taking you on a journey of the history and science behind the art of chocolate making and viewing some impressive chocolate sculptures, the museum offers several activities and events for its visitors to take part in – from children of the age of 3 all the way up adults! At the end of your visit, you can head over the confectionary shop to purchase some of the mouthwatering chocolate, knowing where it came from and exactly how it was made!
If you want to see some dramatic landscapes and an entire village completely hidden away from the rest of the world. You need to visit Montserrat. The region of Montserrat is a really unique place made both within and from the mountain itself. The Montserrat mountain range is just a train ride away from the Barcelona city centre. Once you enter the region you can go hiking/trekking, visit the monastery, the abbey, the museums, the art galleries or simply wander around and marvel at the fact that a place like this can even exist! This region of Barcelona once made such an impression of Christopher Columbus that he actually named a Caribbean island in honour of it! There is a lot to discover at Montserrat, so head over to the official tourism website to see all the details of what you can do during your time there!
Grácia is an old and diverse neighbourhood in Barcelona that can easily be considered a separate entity. In fact, the area itself was established as its own town as early as the 1600’s when a convent was built, which brought trade to the area. This lasted for centuries, until Barcelona’s borders grew so large it needed to incorporate the village into its autonomy in the 1900’s. The modern barrio is famous for its edgy and hip style. Its vibrant people, culturally rich events and street festivals. The most compelling aspect of the neighbourhood is the fact that its extremely local – you will certainly find more Catalans and Spaniards living their daily life here, than site seeing tourists!
Mercat Santa Caterina
This market just screams Barcelona! The architecture, the colours, the character – everything. The market was built on the former grounds of the Santa Maria Convent, which is where it got its name. It first opened in 1848 when it became Barcelona’s first ever covered market (at this time most markets were open-air and congregated at select times every week). At the Mercat Santa Caterina you will find quality fresh vegetables, meats and fruits. As well as restaurants and tapas bars to enjoy a drink and Spanish meal. For more detailed information on services, hours, prices and events, have a look at the Mercat Santa Caterina’s official webpage!
Temple of Augustus
This one is for all the history buffs out there! Before Barcelona became Barcelona under the catholic kingdom of Aragon, it was founded as a Roman state called Castrum. In fact, the Roman walls and fortifications actually defined the city of Barcelona for over a thousand years! There are not may ruins left behind from the Roman occupation in the city, but fragments of the Temple of Augustus – Rome’s first true supreme Emperor – can be visited today! You’ll find it deep within the Barrio Gotico. Most of the temple is gone, all that is left are the pillars which once held up the structure – but its a truly amazing piece of Barcelona’s ancient history that definitely deserves a place on your list of to do’s. The ruins are quite hard to find so mark the place on your maps before heading out to find it! If would like a more detailed afternoon of history, we suggest checking out a Gothic Quarter walking tour!
This stop is more of a photo-op which gives you the opportunity to explore one of Barclona’s most popular barrios – Raval. Botero’s Gato (cat) is an interesting art piece that engaged the community of Barcelona for several years. Before it found its permanent home in Raval, the cat would move from place to place, from barrio to barrio. When the people would find him, they would take photos and have a good laugh over the chubby, smiling cats aimless wandering. Now, the gato has found a home at the end of Rambla del Raval, where children enjoy climbing on him and adults enjoy meeting with friends and having a chat!
Your friendly neighbourhood travel guide,