15 emblematic monuments to discover during your stay in Barcelona

monuments barcelona 15

Barcelona is full of amazing monuments. Few great cities can boast such original buildings. Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Josep Puig i Cadaftalch and many other brilliant contemporary architects have, through their incredible creativity, given Barcelona a unique charm.

We had to choose among all the architectural, and artistic wonders scattered around our city. Here are our top 15 monuments in the Catalan capital.

If you are looking for things to do in Barcelona, don’t hesitate to go and admire them during your stay in the Catalan capital.

Sagrada Familia

interior of Sagrada Familia

Extravagant, magical, unique, enchanting, there is no shortage of adjectives to describe it. Given the scale of the project, the Sagrada Familia was started in 1882 and is still under construction. We, the people of Barcelona, have the chance to see it grow every year. When will the work be finished? Nobody really knows. But let’s not lose hope, it’s getting closer…

Whether you are a believer or not, be sure to visit the interior of the Sagrada Familia. This basilica is unlike any other in the world! Gaudi, inspired by nature, was able to recreate an enchanting forest of pillar-trees illuminated by the play of light from the many multicoloured stained glass windows that will leave you breathless.

If you are going to discover it (which we really advise you to do), buy your ticket online to make sure you get in. It is the most visited monument in Barcelona.

You can also opt for a guided tour in English to learn more about the history and symbolism of this magnificent basilica.

Casa Batlló

visit barcelona casa batllo interior exterior

After being taken to the symbolic forest of the Sagrada Familia, head for the sea with Gaudí’s Casa Batlló.

Designed for a wealthy Catalan family at the beginning of the 20th century, Gaudí unleashed his full creative potential in creating this incredible house. With its seashell or dragon-shaped roof, undulating balconies, multicoloured façade and seabed-inspired interior, all the details of Casa Batlló are amazing and well worth a close look.

The price of the visit is high but you won’t regret it because Casa Batlló is an unforgettable house. There are no other houses like it in the world. What a genius this Gaudí!

Casa Milà (also called “La Pedrera”)

casa milà

Even if it is still pretty insane, this house by Gaudí seems a bit “wiser” than the Casa Batlló. Here, there is no explosion of colours but always allusions to nature. The front door and the undulating façade remind us of the sea, as do the tiles, which are an allegory of the seabed.

Its highly informative space under the roof, dedicated to all of Gaudí’s masterpieces in Barcelona, seems to replicate the entrails of a whale.

The icing on the cake is Casa Milà‘s roof terrace, which is truly unique in the world, with soldier chimneys (or mushrooms?) standing guard over the exceptional views of the Catalan capital.

This incredible house can be visited all year round and you’ll save €3 if you buy your tickets online, as tickets are more expensive at the ticket office.

Park Güell

monument barcelona park guell

Born from the collaboration between Gaudí and Eusebi Güell, Park Güell is a garden city project from the beginning of the 20th century that was abandoned for lack of success with wealthy Catalan families who preferred to keep their homes in the centre of Barcelona.

In 1922, the park was bought by the city and became a public garden. Today, it is possible to visit a large part of the park free of charge, but the section containing all the monuments of interest, such as the salamander or the wavy benches, is subject to a charge.

In 1969, the historical, architectural, and artistic value of Park Güell was recognised by the Spanish State, which declared it a monument of cultural interest.

Like any of Gaudí’s finest work, Park Güell refers to nature. Panoramic views of the city, multicoloured mosaics, and undulating benches await you. Are you ready to visit this other amazing Gaudí masterpiece?

Palau de la Música Catalana

Palau de la musica dome

Built between 1905 and 1908 by Domènech i Montaner, the Palau de la Música Catalana is an Art Nouveau jewel that was even declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Its colourful stained glass windows, wonderful dome and sumptuous interior are unique in the world and well worth seeing during the day.

You can choose to visit the palace on your own, take a guided tour or even attend a concert. Read more in our article on this magnificent Barcelona monument.

National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC)

photos mnac

Built for the 1929 Universal Exhibition, the National Art Museum of Catalonia is an architectural jewel located just in front of the Spanish Plaza. Its dome is inspired by the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican and its four towers are reminiscent of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

This museum on Montjuïc hill is really impressive, but don’t just contemplate its beautiful silhouette, push the doors to discover 1000 years of Catalan art through the paintings, sculptures, and frescoes from the 11th to the 20th century that are exhibited there. A beautiful journey through time awaits you!

A little extra: its terraces offer a 360º panorama of Barcelona. You can access them by a lift located near the museum’s café.

Sant Pau Hospital

Hopital Sant Pau Barcelona

The Sant Pau Hospital is an architectural complex that served as a medical centre from 1930 to 2009. It has since been moved to a more modern building near this impressive Barcelona landmark.

Designed by Domènech i Montaner, another of Gaudí’s brilliant contemporaries, the hospital is also a perfect example of Catalan Art Nouveau. You will be amazed by its courtyards, gardens, underground passages, stained glass windows and colourful facades. It’s a visit we absolutely recommend!

Casa Amatller

casa amatller
casa amatller

One of the most emblematic buildings on the Passeig de Gràcia is the Casa Amatller, designed by another famous architect, Puig i Cadafalch. Although its neighbour, the fantastic Casa Batlló, somewhat overshadows it (except in the photo above, as it is hidden by a tree), this audacious and colourful house is also worth a visit.

Antoni Amatller, a wealthy entrepreneur who owned a chocolate factory, bought this neo-classical building at the end of the 19th century and, Puig i Cadafalch, another renowned architect and contemporary of Gaudí, transformed it into a beautiful art nouveau house.

Since 2015, it is possible to visit it to discover it and learn more about the history of this family of chocolatiers. We also recommend that you enjoy a delicious hot chocolate in its pretty cafeteria on the ground floor.

Barcelona Cathedral

Right in the centre of Barcelona, in the Gothic Quarter, stands a fine example of Catalan Gothic architecture, the magnificent Barcelona Cathedral.

Many people think that the Sagrada Familia or the Basilica of Santa María del Mar mentioned below are also cathedrals, but they are not. There is only one cathedral in Barcelona and it is the majestic cathedral of Santa Eulàlia, one of the city’s patrons along with the Mercè.

Its square and its beautiful plaza host many events throughout the year. Barcelona’s cathedral is the background for the Christmas market and the shows put on by the Sardana dancers when they get together to respect their traditions and share their passion.

Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar

monument barcelona basilica santa maria del mar

Also in Barcelona’s historical centre, the Basilica of Santa María del Mar is a magnificent masterpiece of Catalan Gothic art. Its construction began in the 14th century, in 1329, in the heart of a rapidly expanding Barcelona. Thanks to the immense collective effort of the local inhabitants, this basilica, a symbol of medieval Barcelona, was built in just 54 years.

At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, in 1936, a fire caused by a group of anarchists destroyed a large part of the basilica. Over the years, the basilica has been conscientiously restored.

Don’t miss the opportunity to admire the simple yet majestic interior architecture of this wonderful basilica.

It is possible to take a guided tour of the interior of the basilica, museum, crypt, towers, and terraces. Tickets can be purchased at the Basilica’s information booth.

Gran Teatre del Liceu

monument barcelona liceu

Located on the famous Ramblas, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu is a prestigious, internationally renowned opera and performance venue.

Inaugurated in 1847, the Liceu, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2022, was ravaged by two fires in 1861 and 1994. Only a few rooms were spared by the flames. Following a skilful reconstruction, the current Liceu is a near-perfect replica of the original theatre, just as sumptuous.

With its 2292 seats, it is now the largest opera house in Europe. Shows are held almost every day and the most famous artists perform here.

But the Liceu also has a permanent choir, costume designers, make-up artists, editors, engineers, directors… 300 people who work there all year round to ensure that the performances are perfect.

We recommend that opera lovers attend at least one performance at the Liceu. The prices are high, but the experience is unique.

Parc de la Ciutadella’s great waterfall

fountain ciutadella

This great waterfall, located in the Parc de la Ciutadella, was built from 1875 and inaugurated in 1888 on the occasion of the Barcelona Universal Exhibition. The hydraulic project of this architectural complex, designed by José Fontseré, was entrusted to Antoni Gaudí.

The central part of the monument, in the shape of a triumphal arch, is crowned by an ancient chariot harnessed to four horses on which an allegory of dawn brandishes a torch representing the light that illuminates the world every morning.

The best artists of the time left their artistic mark by sculpting on this monument a profusion of elements related to the theme of water. The whole forms a very heterogeneous but harmonious architectural ensemble.

Christopher Columbus’s statue

If you walk along Barcelona’s famous Ramblas towards the sea, you will surely see the long silhouette of the monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus at the end of the promenade, facing the port.

This huge column, the work of Cayetano Buigas, was built for the Barcelona Universal Exhibition to embellish the coastline of the Catalan capital and was inaugurated on 1 June 1888. It soon became one of the city’s representative symbols.

There is a lift inside the monument that allows access to a panoramic platform located under the feet of the statue of the famous navigator.

Arc de Triomf of Barcelona

triumphal arch barcelona

The Arc de Triomf of Barcelona is a monument in the historical centre that was designed by the architect José Vilaseca for the Universal Exhibition in Barcelona in 1888.

The entrance to this famous exhibition was through this splendid neo-Mudejar style triumphal arch, 30 metres high. Unlike other triumphal arches that celebrate military victories, this one has a civil character, glorifying the city’s scientific, artistic, and economic progress.

A walk along the Passeig de Lluis Companys is ideal for admiring this very photogenic monument at any time of day.

Agbar Tower or Glòries Tower

monument barcelona agbar tower

The Agbar Tower, also known as the Glòries Tower, is an amazing monument with a rounded shape that has stood out in the Barcelona sky since 2005. It is the most recent of all the monuments discussed in this article.

Located in the modern district of 22@, this 38-storey tower designed by the famous architect Jean Nouvel is 144 metres high. It is the third highest skyscraper in Barcelona after the Arts Hotel and the Mapfre Tower (the “twin towers” near the Olympic port).

It is possible to visit the interior of the Glòries Tower since June 2022. The experience, which is divided into three parts, is original and enriching. We tell you more about the visit we made at its opening in our full article on the Glòries Tower.

At night, the Agbar Tower illuminates the Barcelona sky with 4,500 LED devices that create impressive lighting effects.

If you like night photos, don’t hesitate to go and capture it!

That’s it! Our tour of Barcelona’s must-see monuments is over. Which one will you start with?

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