This impressive Barcelona travel guide, which reveals a number of hidden secrets waiting for you in Barcelona, has been written by the tour guide, Eduardo Maturana. Read on to discover Barcelona as never before!
With more than 2000 years of history, Barcelona is the fourth city in Europe preferred by tourists and Spain's top tourist destination, with over 30 million tourists, of which more than 2.6 million were cruise passengers, who came to visit the city in 2016. The majority of its visitors come from Great Britain, France and the United States.
For many visitors, it is love at first sight when they come to Barcelona, because of the city's enormous offerings of traditions, gastronomy and beautiful places to admire, such as its squares, parks, streets and avenues. Of course, a highlight is its unique architecture, famous worldwide, with Gaudí as its great creator and teacher.
Unveil Barcelona's secret places & hidden stories
But exploring further, one is continually delighted with Barcelona's buildings. Yet all you have to do is delve just a little deeper to unveil a number of secret places and hidden stories that are constantly being discovered, which intermingle ancient history from the Neolithic, the Roman Empire, the presence of the Jewish quarter, and the Order of the Temple, secret societies and freemasonry.
There is so much to tell, and those who visit fall in love and many return to Barcelona several more times, having mingled with Barcelona's magic and mysteries.
1. Sagrada Familia
The greatest work of the master Antonio Gaudí, a real attraction magnet in Barcelona, attracting an ever increasing record number of visitors (4.5 million people in 2016) is one of the most visited monumental buildings in the whole world.
Building began in 1882, and Gaudí spent his last 40 years of life working on its design and construction. Currently it is still under construction. Its façades are full of religious symbolism and there are also those who find certain hermetic symbols that amaze the observer when their meanings are revealed. Once finished it will become the tallest church in the world, with its central tower reaching 170 metres high. Among its secrets are several magic squares whose main characteristic is that the sum of their numbers total 33. The number 33 is one of the highest degrees of Freemasonry and also the age Jesus Christ was supposed to have died. Learn more about the Sagrada Familia.
2. Roman vestiges
In the heart of the old town of Barcelona, there are vestiges of the Roman era, and you can visit exactly the place where the city was founded, where there are Roman remains, such as the columns that were part of the Temple of Augustus, from the 1st century AD.
The surprising thing is that under the subsoil of the Gothic quarter of the old town, you can visit around 4,000 square metres of Roman remains. It is also possible to see other remains of the Roman era in different parts of the old town. It is interesting to discover that the founding rite of a Roman city like Barcelona followed the methodology indicated in the books of Vitruvius Architecture, taken in turn from ancient secret rituals of founding cities, as the ancient Etruscans did.
3. Market of the Boquería
The Mercado del la Boquería is the best market in the world, according to CNN, in 2017. It is one of the most typical markets in Barcelona and the largest in the community of Catalonia, where you can find an unimaginable variety of fruits and vegetables from different parts of the world, as well as , meat, fish, salt, etc ...
You can taste both typical Catalan products and exotic products, and also discover the rich history that is hidden in its location, such as that its construction took place on the remains of the old religious convent of San Joseph of the sixteenth century.
4. Modernist Architecture (Catalan Art-Nouveau)
One of the jewels of Barcelona is undoubtedly its architecture, mainly the city's modernist architecture (Catalan Art-Nouveau) and undoubtedly the unparalleled architecture of the master Gaudí, from the early twentieth century.
The buildings of these styles are found throughout the city, and one of the most famous avenues such as Paseo de Gracia, can delight your eyes with an example of these architectural styles in the so-called Apple of Discord, in which the main architects of the time competed to be the most original.
It is here where we find works of famous modernist architects, such as Lluis Domenech and Montaner, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Enric Sagnier and Antonio Gaudí. Internationally renowned are houses of Gaudí like Casa Milà (La Pedrera), Casa Vicens, Palau Güell, Bellesguard Tower, among others; all of which are open to visitors.
When admiring these works we can glimpse the secrets that hide in their facades, as for example in the Casa Batlló de Gaudí, which contains a complex symbolism representative of the most deeply rooted traditions of Barcelona.
5. Great natural parks & gardens
One of the main attractions of Barcelona are its green areas; large parks that serve as a place for collective recreation for its inhabitants and tourists. Barcelona is one of the cities with more trees in Europe, and its surface dedicated to parks and gardens is a total of almost 3000 hectares.
Its oldest park is the Parque del Laberinto de Horta, landscaped in the 18th century, later and thanks to the enthusiasm of the late nineteenth century for the Universal Exhibitions, the Ciudadela Park was built, which can be seen in the image with a series of sculptures and its great waterfall, in whose centre the birth of the Goddess Venus is represented. This is another place that hides a lot of symbolism, that is also linked to ancient mythology.
During the twentieth century other parks were built and landscaped areas such as the area near Plaza España, the gardens of the Pedralbes Palace, where outdoor concerts are held, the Cervantes Park, where each year you can take a tour to smell and see different varieties of roses from around the world, the large gardens of the mountain of Montjuïc with botanical species from many countries and water games, as well as indoor gardens between the urban buildings of modern and contemporary Barcelona.
There is no doubt that this has made Barcelona obtain the certification of the Biosphere World Class Destination of being one of the main sustainable tourist destinations in the world.
6. Barcelona's urban design
Barcelona's urban design, of the early twentieth century, is one of the most remarkable in Europe, compared to the designs of other major world capitals such as Washington D.C. In the United States.
A visionary man, like Ildefonso Cerd, who was able to design an urban fabric of large avenues and wide streets allowing Barcelona to become one of the healthiest and most sustainable cities, as required by the construction canons of the current 21st century, and which allows the consequent construction of further large green zones in different parts of the city.
Perhaps you would not believe that even this urban design also hides various hidden secrets in terms of distances between its avenues, the orientation with respect to the cardinal points, and there are even those who theorise that it is linked to the Hebrew Kabbalah and initiation orders such as Freemasonry.
7. Barcelona's religious heritage
The religious heritage is enormous in Barcelona, a cosmopolitan city in which people who practice different religious rites live together in peace. In total there are more than 540 temples dedicated to different religions and creeds: Catholic, Christian, Evangelical, Buddhist, Taoist, Islamic. Only the Catholic temples add up to approximately 240, and we can find temples dating from the 5th century AD. even those that have been built in recent centuries.
The most renowned churches of the old town are the Cathedral of Barcelona, the church of Santa María del Pino, the church of Santos Justo and Pastor, the church of Santa María del Mar, the church of the Virgen de la Mercé, the church of San Pablo del Campo Likewise, in other parts of the city you can visit the Monastery of Pedralbes, the Church of the Sacred Heart on the highest peak of Barcelona, Tibidabo, or the famous Sagrada Familia. Temples so old that they share the site of the cults before Christianity in the city.
8. Museums & art in Barcelona
Important collections worldwide are found in the various offerings of Barcelona's museums. We find one of the largest collections of Pablo Picasso, in the Picasso Museum, located in the old town, and the only one opened by the artist himself, in 1963. It has more than 4000 of his works, mainly focusing on the art of his childhood and youth.
But Barcelona also has important collections such as the National Museum of Art of Catalonia, which is one of the most important in Spain, in terms of collections of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Modern Art, the collection of Romanesque Art is the most important in the world, and what is interesting is the building in which it is located, on the slopes of the mountain of Montjuïc, was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1929 as National Palace.
The Museum of the History of Catalonia is very complete, as well as being very visual and interactive; it covers Catalan history since its pre-history.
Undoubtedly you can visit the Joan Miró Foundation museum, which opened in 1975, and its impressive collection has 14,000 objects of the famous Catalan artist Joan Miró, plus some other world famous artists such as Matisse, J.L.Sert. Joan Miró even gave away some of his works free of charge to the city, and surely those who have visited and toured the city on foot will have had the opportunity to contemplate them.
As an approximation to Egypt, Barcelona has a well located, although small Egyptian Museum, for those who wish to begin their knowledge in that culture. The Gaudí House Museum located in Park Güell, home of the master Gaudí for almost 20 years, maintains an important collection of the architect, including several pieces of furniture.
You can also visit: the Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona (MACBA), the Wax Museum, the Chocolate Museum, the Frederic Marés Museum, the Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB), among many others. It is important to note that Dalí, Picasso and Miró are considered authors of the origin of modernity, as highlighted by an exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi in Italy in 2011. Miró left, as a gift, some of his works that now form part of the Art urban area of Barcelona and can be contemplated freely by anyone.
9. The tradition of the Saint John’s Night and the Flame of Canigó
One of the Catalan and Barcelona traditions whose origin is lost in time, is that of the Canigó flame, which has been celebrated since 1955, on the night of San Juan, between June 22 and 23 of each year, which is for the Catalans practically like the celebration of the New Year.
The flame of Canigó never goes out, and stays in the French town of Perpignan, and every 22nd June, people go up to the top of the Canigó mountain, which is considered sacred by the Catalans, to light a large bonfire, which is later distributed throughout the Catalan geography, both in its Spanish part and in its French territory (Pyrenees Orientales).
The curious thing about this tradition is that all the bonfires that are lit on the night of San Juan, throughout the entire Catalan geography, are lit with the same flame of the mountain of Canigó. This tradition is linked to the ancient rituals of fire and the celebration of the Summer Solstice of the oldest cultures in the world.
10. Surroundings of Barcelona: Montserrat, Girona, Figueres & Costa Brava
Very close to Barcelona, you can visit some very interesting towns, cities and places, both in the interior of Catalonia and on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. One of the most famous monasteries in the world, in a unique enclave, almost at the top of a very special rock formation that is considered a magical mountain, is Montserrat.
Towns with a rich history and an overflowing nature of mountains, rivers, waterfalls and even volcanic lands, with medieval architecture such as Besalú, Catellfollit de la Roca, Rupit. Cities connected with magic, the important influence of the Jewish quarter and the Kabala, and which also hold many mysteries such as Girona, a city whose gastronomy is enjoyed by the finest palates, and which has the best restaurant in the world, the Celler de Can Roca, with three Michelin stars, and awarded the year 2013 and 2015 by Restaurant Magazine.
We can not fail to mention of course one of the favourite places of Dalí, Cadaqués, a town located on the Costa Brava, the Catalan coast of the Mediterranean Sea, which together with other towns such as Roses, or Tossa de Mar for example, await us with indescribable views , anecdotes, mysteries and are also alive with the ancient history of the Iberian Peninsula.
11. One of the best climates in the world
Barcelona has one of the most privileged climates in the world, which makes it one of the main reasons that many people decide to live in this city. Around seven months, the temperatures are stable and very pleasant, from April to November the average temperatures range from 16 to 29 degrees Celsius. The average annual rainfall does not exceed 600 mm, with October being the rainiest month according to statistics. The international climate classification of Barcelona is Csa according to Köppen, this is a temperate Mediterranean climate of warm summer.
Transport to/from Airport:
There is a direct train from the airport which brings you into the city centre. Barcelona Sants is a good station to get off, but that will depend on where you are going.
There are also both local and international bus services from the airport.
Full transport options are available here for Barcelona El Prat.
The Renfe website is where you can find all the information about timetables and prices for trains.
There are some special tickets available, if you intend to do a lot of train travelling while in Spain.
At the airport, you will find all the big car rental brands.
Click on Barcelona Airport Car Rental
Barcelona & Surrounding Area Tour Guide
Eduardo is a computer scientist, who has worked as a IT HelpDesk consultant, for different companies for more than 15 years, and since 2016 he has been working as a tour guide in Barcelona because of his love for the city.
He was born in Santiago de Chile, but later he settled in the city of Barcelona, and has lived there for 14 years. Barcelona is a city that has captivated him from the very first moment, and every day when discovering new secrets, he has much to offer any tourist that visits.
All photos featured in this article were taken by Eduardo. To see more great photos and follow Eduardo’s discoveries, head over to Instagram.
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Tours Offered By Eduardo
Hidden Barcelona Tours
Eduardo offers a selection of tours, which on one hand focus on some of Barcelona’s obvious highlights, but on the other hand, his tours reveal fascinating secrets about mysteries and symbols of the city.
Additionally, the Hidden Barcelona Tours, are taken at a more relaxed pace, than some of the other tour offerings on offer.
We have further information on Eduardo’s tours, which can be found by clicking on: