El Raval – an opposing district

There is no other district in Barcelona that is as strong in its contrasts itself as El Raval. On one hand, there are still some locations with drug dealers, prostitutes and a lot of migrants, on the other hand there are more and more places with artists, youths, small boutiques as well as bars and restaurants. El Raval used to be the city’s red light district marked by poverty and low life quality. Its second name is still Barri Xino – said to be under Chinese conditions – and as already mentioned, there are still some unattractive places. But on the other side, there is no other district that is that authentic and multi-cultural as this part of Barcelona. In 1988, the Catalan government started a huge urban campaign investing a lot of money in cleaning this area. First, they built the MACBA (Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona). It was supposed to seem like a stone thrown into water – and it worked. Around the building, there were built other cultural centers as the CCCB. The MACBA gave the district a developing push. Today, it hosts primarily art of Catalán artists, but also from international artists as Anselm Kiefer. Right next to the building, there is the CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona) located in the former building of mercy. The building, where once poor people were feeded, is today a place for presentations, projects, and exhibitions. From 6th November until 8th December, it hosts the World Press Photo 14. palau güell Palau Güell, rooftop terrace As a matter of fact, El Raval has its own Gaudí building as well. In the Carrer Nou de la Rambla, you find the Palau Güell built by Antoni Gaudí in the end of the 19th centry. This house is the former residence of the industrialist Güell and his family who lived there until 1936. For 12 Euro you are able to visit the whole building, starting in the cellar, the former stable, and going continously upstairs, ending on the rooftop terrace with its colourful chimneys. At the latest, when you leave the Palau, there will be one Gaudí fan more in the world.   If you are looking for a nice place to spend some peaceful moments, the Eglésia Sant Pau might be perfect for you. The former monastery, built in the 10th century in the open country, opens his doors every day from 10am to 12 noon. It is not a very touristic place, and if you want to escape the noises of the city for a bit, don't hesitate to visit it. Another nice place for a break is the Antic Hospital Santa Creu, where Gaudí passed away after his tram crash. The beautiful courtyard is similiar to a park where everyone comes together. You will see students, tourists, parents with their children as well as old people. There is also a nice café in the courtyard called El Jardí. monastery sant pauIf you want to go for a little shopping trip, the Carrer del Carme invites to stroll along small boutiquets and designing shops. It is a nice way to enjoy another part of the lively neighbourhood El Raval. A nice place for dinner or lunch, is la Fabrica Moritz where you can get good food for a low price. When you go for it, you should definitely taste the house-made beer. However, you should still have in mind that there is also a dangerous part in this district. So, if you feel insecure especially at night, please spend a few Euro and take a taxi through the district to get safe to your destination. El Raval  is multi-cultural and historic; it is lively, vibrant and authentic; it is fashionable as well as a cultural center. It is a district full of personlaity, and always alive. But it is still the most dangerous part of Barcelona. Did this opposing district of Barcelona convince you?Do you want to get to know more about it? Go for it, and enjoy the vibrant and authentic atmopsphere.   One Day in El Raval You could start your day at the monastery Sant Pau enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. Your next stop might be the Palau Güell, only 5 minutes walking distance away. After diving in Gaudí's past, you could start your way to the CCCB, strolling first through the streets, entering the Antic Hospital Santa Creu and having a break at El Jardí. After ambling along Carrer del Carme you could visit CCCB spending a few hours there. To finish off with the day, you might go for dinner at Fabrica Moritz. If you are still keen in doing somethings afterwards, you might make a sortie into the London Bar which once hosted Picasso and Hemmingway. © image Palau Güell: synes (flickr)  
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La Mercè 2014: Barcelona’s biggest festival

Barcelona - La Mercè is on the agenda

  It's September and it's time for the biggest festival in Barcelona.  La Mercè 2014, with about 500 different events, will be held from Friday 19th to Wednesday 24th. By celebrating in the streets, the local people are honouring one of their patron-saints of the city: the Lady of the Mercy. The streets are full of artists, music, and dancing people. The guest city of La Mercè 2014  is Stockholm, Sweden. So, there are about 50 Swedish artists, who are the most fascinating and on-trend at the moment, performing in the streets as well. You'll be in town? We prepared a list with the most important events for you.   Castellers – Human Towersla mercè in barcelona One highlight of La Mercè 2014 is the Castellers that takes place at Plaça de Sant Jaume. The Castellers’ aim is to build a human tower as high as possible. It requires patience, good teamwork, and an amount of planning. However, it is a fantastic event that you will definetly enjoy!

Image  © by Connie Ma flickr gallery

Gigantes – Giants Parade la mercè-gigantes   The Giants Parade is a fantastic sight of giants dancing on the streets and marching around in circles. Accompanied by the play of flutes and drums, giant figures of queens, kings, saints, and nobles march the streets of Barcelona.

Image © by Stasiu Tomczak flickrgallery   Correfoc – Fire Run In the evening, a procession of fire-breathing dragons, accompanied by dangerous dragons and other monsters, usually takes place on the Via Laietana near Jaume I. They march the streets and try to scare the people.  Regarding to the firework and bangers, you should put on some clothes that won’t be ruined by a few sparks. Before the actual Correfoc,  there is also a more harmless event for children. Correfoc is definitely the most dangerous event of la Mercè 2014, but it is also the one you should not miss at all!

la mercè - correfoc

Image © by Jacob Garcia flickrgallery

For more information look at the programme with all the events of La Mercè 2014.    

 
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Cable Car Ride: Discover Barcelona from above

Barcelona is famous for its Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, beautiful beaches, Sangria and Co. But whoever visits the city will definitely recognize another landmark of the town pretty fast: Barcelona’s famous cable car. Where it is? Just look up towards the harbor and you will spot it right away. The cable car connects the beach with Montjuic, two of the city’s most essential locations. bcn_cablecar This around seven-minute journey is really a nice idea for everybody who wants to enjoy the beautiful city of Barcelona from the bird’s eye view – something that really can’t be provided by a “simple” bus-sightseeing-tour. BUT be warned: this trip is nothing for the faint of the heart! Just the elevator run up to the tower’s top is a bit of an excitement already and within the cabins it can be slightly crowded, since up to 20 (!) people should fit in – allegedly… But if you are not scared of height, a bit of an adventurer and looking to breath in Barcelona from every possible perspective – go for it! Fast Facts Start: Torre Sant Sébastian / Port Vell Price: 11€ for a single ticket; 16€ for a round trip Opening Hours: 11.00am to 8.00pm (times change seasonally) bcn_cablecar2 For more information feel free to visit the official website.
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Sitges: International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia 2014

Watch out, fantasy fans, here comes something great! For the already - and quiet impressive - 47th time the “International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia” is about to return to the great city of Sitges. bcn_sitges_Toni Villaró If you’re a lover of fantasy of all kinds you shouldn’t think twice about attending  this event. The Sitges edition is known for being the number one fantasy film festival in the world and has developed into an appreciated establishment. Since the first international week of sci-fi and horror in 1968 the festival has spread its wings and has become a more than reliable barometer when it comes to new and futuristic technologies and trends. From this year’s October 3rd to 12th visitors can benefit from encounters, exhibitions, screenings, presentations and Co. and get completely lost in the event’s surreal atmosphere. But Catalonia’s foremost film festival isn’t just a big excitement for interested spectators: since an international jury honors the best films, actors and filmmakers with the “Maria” award - plus the festival hosts several other award shows,too - the event is also of great importance for a professional audience. As a natural consequence of its high international reputation, each year the festival provides a popular meeting point for international VIPs. Sitges' guest list impresses with big names like Anthony Hopkins, Cameron Diaz, Jodie Foster, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Tony Curtis and many more. Did you know that even the master of direction himself, Mr. Quentin Tarantino, launched his first movie in the adorable little city on the Spanish coast-line back in the days? By now there really shouldn’t be any more arguments necessary to point out how great this event is ;-) One more: don't miss out on the annual "Zombiewalk" on which fans dress up in spooky outfits and scary make-up to create one bizarre get-together! FAST FACTS Location: Sitges (35km outside Barcelona) Dates: 3rd to 12th of October 2014 Website: sitgesfilmfestival.com 
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Biggest Desigual Store to be Opened in Barcelona

A walk through the Barcelona’s shopping areas clearly reveals one particular brand-preference of the Catalan capital’s inhabitants: people just loooove Desigual! Stores of the Spanish casual clothing brand can literally be found everywhere – which doesn’t mean that not almost all of its shops are usually crowded to the maximum. Therefore it is no great surprise that the company now revealed the opening of its new and biggest flagship store right in the city centre of Barcelona. By the end of 2014 fashion lovers can enjoy a comfortable and spacious shopping experience and discover the brands typical colorful it-pieces of all categories on a surface of 3.000qm and on three different levels. Don’t forget to bring your credit card ;) bcn_desigual_Jimmy Baikovicius
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June in Barcelona

Madrid and Andalusia are usually already pretty hot by the time of June – Barcelona indeed still convinces with a warm but comfortable climate and therefore makes a perfect traveling destination to spend some exciting days. Before you take off to the beautiful Catalan capital, note down that there is more to discover than “just” some sights (even though they are amazing in BCN!). For a perfect experience be open to join some of the city’s great events taking place in June. Here comes our Top 4: Feast of Sant Joan: The Summer Solstice is a very special deal in Barcelona. Since the night from June 23rd to 24th marks the shortest night of the year and the beginning of summer, Catalan people celebrate this with a public holiday on which Barcelona and its surrounding transform into an electric area. In this night of Sant Joan the sun reaches its highest point, for that reason Barcelona organizes a great and impressive firework each year to brighten up the city. Visitors as well as locals benefit from the buzzing and vibrant atmosphere at Sant Joan, have a picnic outdoors or/and watch some nice performances and happenings in the streets. When the sun sets in the evening of June 23rd it may be a good idea to head near the beachside where a lot of people in a good mood enjoy live music and tasty drinks. bcn_santjoan Pride Barcelona: Another colorful – if not THE MOST colorful – event is just around the corner. For its already sixth time Barcelona will host the annual Pride Barcelona, which is a great festival hosted by the LGBT community. From June 27th to 29th visitors can be entertained by a diverse programm featuring performances, parades, music, parties, workshops, debates etc. We are pretty sure that you won’t be able to find any bored person around since the participation choices are various enough to please everybody. Since Pride Barcelona is known to be one of the most famous and important LGBT festivals, it not just provides amusement and enjoyment, but as well campaigns for tolerance and equality. To find out more about locations, timetables and Co. feel free to discover the official website. bcn_pride_adriagarcia Sonar Festival: If music is one of your greatest pleasures, don’t miss this amazing event! It is safe to say that this is more than just another random happening: it’s a legend, it’s an establishment, it’s an institution – it’s the famous Sonar Music Festival about to take over Barcelona again! This amazing international music festival goes back to the early days of 1994 and has ever since been able to successfully spread the world to please it with awesome sounds. In 2014 the beat-machine will be in town from June 12th to 14th and probably again attract fans from all over Europe. The three-day-event features upcoming and leading artists playing live on stage and offers also different artistic, digital installations to create a unique and inspiring festival atmosphere. This year’s line-up is again pretty convincing and includes huge names such as Robyn, Lykke Li, Boys Noize, Massive Attack and many, many more. Tickets can be easily bought online. bcn_sonar_Matthias Mueller Moto GP 2014: Sport fan can finally breath now, we have something cool for you right here :) In 2014 the Montmelo racetrack hosts one of the biggest and most important races in the international speed scene: the MotoGP World Championship. From June 13th to 15th the famous Circuit de Catalunya – which as well hosts the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix – will be populated by super-fast and high-tech motorcycles, which will drive rapid laps reaching impressive speeds of around 300kmh! More than 100.000 people are expected to watch this racy pleasure and to enjoy roaring motors and lead in the air. To join in safe yourself some tickets. bcn_motogp_John McClumpha
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Barcelona welcomes the “Night of Museums” again

Since the arrival of spring and the beautiful sunny and warm weather, locals and tourists these days enjoy daytime in Barcelona to the fullest. But what about the later hours? Right on time for people not to forget about the great evening events the Catalan capital has to offer, the Night of Museums is returning to Barcelona again. bcn_museunacionaldartdecatalunya Such as a lot of other cities in Europe, Spain`s second largest town opens its doors to a lot of cultural institutions to the public at night. On May 17th interested visitors can enjoy the offer including not just exhibitions, but also concerts, workshops and Co. of around 60 museums at special opening hours from 19.00 pm to 1.00 am. “La Nit Dels Museus” is for free – so don’t miss it!
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La Roca Village: Designer Outlet Shopping for Everybody

Basically, holidays are about relaxing, sunbathing, reading, of course sightseeing and the beach. Something else? YES, we definitely missed out on one majorly important leisure activity: shopping! The thrill of spending money on beautiful things may even be more delightful when discovering foreign cities – and stores. If you are planning on traveling to the exciting town of Barcelona, we are happy to share a great shopping destination tip with you: La Roca Village. bcn_larocavillage La Roca Village is an amazing Shopping Center just around half an hour outside the Catalan capital which offers real attractive discounts on all the well-known designers. Shopaholics profit from the lovely selection more than 100 designers provide, most of them in fashion but there is also a good range of cosmetics, beauty and homeware. Basically, there is nothing you could not get at this exquisite shopping heaven. Spanish Brands, street fashion and luxury designers all gather together, for example:
  • Loewe
  • Versace
  • Hugo Boss
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Burberry
  • Desigual
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Nike
  • L’Occitane
  • Villeroy & Boch etc.
To make everything super perfect: reaching La Roca is very easy. It is either possible to take the comfortable “Shopping Express”, a bus starting from Passeig de Gracia 6 or the World Trade Center to daily drive fashion lovers right to the Shopping Centers entrance. Or you can of course also get their independently by car and use the free, 2028 parking spots offering car park area. No question that there is a tone of various food stands and cafés, so it is really not a problem at all to comfort hunger and thirst and spend the whole day at La Roca Village. Especially great for shopping-loving parents is that you can find two playgrounds in the area where your little ones can entertain themselves while you enjoy the new Versace collection. So, ladies and gents: let the shopping begin :-)
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10 Things to Do in Barcelona

Of course there is a lot more that can be done in the amazing city of Barcelona - but let's start with these 10 tips :-)
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May in Barcelona

May in Barcelona is more than awesome! Since the temperatures in general are already perfectly warm and enjoyable, visitors have the possibility to show off their brand new, light summer fashion. Where to wear some airy outfits can be discovered right here – just read through our Top 4 Barcelona events taking place in May. Primavera Sound: Watch out, we’ve got a treat for your ears right here! Being not just Barcelona’s most important and exciting Music Festival but also the number one in Spain, Primavera Sound is an institution of great tunes. The wonderful town of Barcelona has been hosting the annual event since 2001 which every year attracts beat-lovers from all over the world. This year from May 28th to 31st visitors can enjoy an amazing weekend getting lost in music – just next to beach! Primavera Sound is not one of those festivals advertising with its load of trendy stars but is especially known for featuring rather unknown artists to let people discover the sounds of the future first hand. But of course there will again be some big names playing as well, for example the Nine Inch Nails, Arcade Fire or Kendrick Lamar. If you want to save yourself some tickets, hurry up! bcn_primaverasound Labor Day: In Spain May 1st is one of its national holidays. Spanish people join in in the international tradition of celebrating the Labor Day at the very beginning of May to enjoy a day off work spending it with friends and family. To honor working people’s achievements in economy and sociality, the May 1st celebration was established in 1975 after the end of Franco’s dictatorship and first publically celebrated two years later in 1977. May 1st makes a great opportunity for visitors to discover Barcelona’s cultural offers, since museums and Co. stay generally open while shops and offices are closed. If you like, you can also watch or take part in various peaceful meetings and demonstrations being hold all over town. bcn_flag Formula 1 Grand Prix: Fasten your seat belts and focus – the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix is ready to start engines! From May 9th to 11th friends of super-cars and speed can experience the atmosphere of high-technology vehicles turning their laps. Since the early 1990 this famous event takes place a little outside the Catalan capital in the little town Montmeló. With the goal of successfully complete 66 fast rounds, the ambitioned professional drivers will take over the Circuit de Catalunya – a race track being famous for guaranteeing very exciting competitions. Special speed-fans can go for a whole Formula-1-Weekend since there are not just tickets for the main race on Sunday, but also for the test-driving and qualifying on Friday and Saturday available. bcn_formula1 Ciutat Flamenco: This wonderful event of the art of dancing is a total must for all of those who just can’t stop their feet from stomping the beat when music is playing. Ciutat Flamenco is a multiple and colorful festival celebrating the loveliness of the beautiful and traditional dance of Flamenco, annually taking place in the Catalan capital. From 23rd to 26th of May interested visitors can populate the halls of “El Mercat de las Flors” in order to take part in the various, flamenco-themed offer. Regarding classical as well as contemporary interpretations of dancing Flamenco, people are welcome to enjoy shows, concerts, exhibitions, workshops, dance sessions and competitions. More information can be found on the official website. bcn_flamenco
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