Travel With Ysabel: Barcelona, Spain

Finally got the time to catch up with my TWY posts; so to say the second half of my winter break travel which was a little over a month ago. Hope you guys bare with me! Just like what I mentioned in my previous travel post, I spent a week in Sunny Spain – first in Madrid, now in Barcelona.

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Outside the city, we were able to visit the Circuit de Catalunya. It’s about an hour away via train. This is where Formula 1 races are being held every year. My brother is an avid Formula 1 fan, so he was thrilled when he found out I visited. This is also the home track of one of my personal favorite Formula 1 drivers, 2006 World Champion Fernando Alonzo. It was a long hike up but the view of the track and the city was breathtaking. We were even able to watch the sun set!

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This is Barcelona’s Plaza de Reial (Royal Plaza). Many tourists can be found here. What caught my eye is the huge Philippine flag proudly waving with the wind. It turns out that the Philippine Consulate can be found here as well as a Spanish restaurant owned by a Filipino with Filipinos as employees too. Awesome, huh?

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The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is a large, shaded public market that attracts goers for its variety of food and other affordable goods. You can sit and dine in their small stalls, buy a cup of fresh fruits to keep you hydrated or feed your sweet tooth with their attractive “eye candies”.

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We joined a free walking tour again also with New Europe Tours! Our first stop was the Palau Reial Major (the Grand Royal Plaza), which is dedicated to Sta. Agatha. It served as a former residence for Catalans from the 13th to the 15th century where we can trace back to the remains of the gothic-inspired architecture. It is divided into three buildings: a chapel, the Salón de Tinell where such ceremonies are being held at and the palace itself. Today, you can hear musicians share their talent right in the palace grounds as you walk around.

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The Barcelona Main Cathedral is dedicated to Sta. Eulalia who suffered martyrdom during the Roman times (see more about that below). Another side of the church is dedicated to “Christ of Lepanto” where a Catalan legend states that during the Battle of Lepanto, that the corpus made the right move of shifting right to avoid being hit by a cannonball therefore a sign of a miracle that the Ottomans would be defeated.

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Spanish architecture has a mix of moorish and gaudi. Despite Spain being pre-dominantly Catholic, the remains of the Muslim such as the moorish walls remains up and being admired by many.

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I didn’t recognize these tombs not until the tour guide told us they were! During the Roman Empire period, the cemeteries were built outside the city limit therefore making the Via Supulcral Romana an old historical “site”, it being there since the first century AD. The tombs were lined between Barcelona (formerly called Barcino) and nearby Sarria. The cemetery was only discovered only in the 1950’s, preserved, and later added an exhibition hall.

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The thing about Spain is that it’s religious – pretty much the reason why the Philippines is, too. In fact, one of the main motivations of the conquest of colonization to the Philippines is the  conversion of Christianity. Roman Catholicism being the number 1 religion in this country explains the number of beautiful churches and saints you’ll see when you explore. An example would be the Baixada de Santa Eulàlia. During the Roman times, Sta. Eulàlia was one of the Christians whom Emperor Diocletian persecuted. Having a brave soul, she confronts him but sadly gets arrested and suffers an unfortunate fate of tortures, crucifixion and eventually, gets beheaded. She was canonized and declared a Patron Saint in 633. She has a festival which is celebrated in Spain every 12th of February.

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The Monument als Castellers is a work of art dedicated to Catalan scuptor Antoni Llena i Font. Made of twelve tubes of stainless steel, this monument represents the strength and fragility of a castle.

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The El fossar de les moreres is a memorial plaza. It was built over a cemetery where thousands of those who bravely fought at the War of the Spanish Succession in the 17th century were buried. The torch of eternal flame (not seen in the photo) at the crown of the iron statue is lighted up to honor the fallen heroes.

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To cap off the 23.74 km (wew!) free walking tour is some relaxation at Parc de la Ciutadella. That was good and a productive walk since I got to exercise and at the same time, learn so much about Spain. There’s a zoo inside but it was closed. In the northern part of the park is the Cascada, a fountain with waterfalls and a finishing touch of a triumphal arch that was slightly inspired from the Trevi fountain in Rome. The flora of the park bloomed to its maximum and beautiful state despite the cool atmosphere of the winter.

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Along the tour we were with three people from our hostel – Jon, Sasha and Chloe. They are international students who were taking a vacation in Barcelona just like us except they’re from Madrid. We enjoyed the picturesque views, the drop of colors in the sky and started snapping pictures.  We missed the smell of the salt water and the softness of the sand when we went to Playa Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica, where many of the beach goers are seen either running by the bay or exercising in the mini outdoor “gym” .. ergh, their “playground”.

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One of the most magnificent and colorful churches I’ve seen in my life was being renovated when we visited however it did not stop us from appreciating the beauty of it – both inside and out. It was actually planned to add 18 towers: one for each of the twelve apostles, one for the Virgin Mary and the highest would be Jesus’ at the center. The Sagrada Familia attracts 3 million visitors a year therefore making it the most visited monument in Spain. The architect Antoni Gaudi was a lover of nature that the columns appeared like trees and the burst of colors in the window panes represented light in life. The church itself was beautifully built architecturally and each part of the church tells a story. The facade (refer to photo below) tells the story of Jesus from the time of the Last Supper up until He was ascended to Heaven – it was also known as the Cradle of Life. My friend Marga and I were lucky not to have suffered the long lines and the large crowds and we were also able to rent audio guides to give us further understandings of the church.

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This door has the prayer of “Our Father” in different languages. In the 16th line from the top you will see the Tagalog translation of “Give us This Day Our Daily Bread”. Can you see the translation of the prayer in your language? 🙂

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This post’s cover photo is the Sagrada Familia Pandora Charm and the actual church. It was also the last charm that filled up my first Pandora bracelet in which I started collected when I turned 18. The travel video will be up soon! Meanwhile, I have tons of backlog TravelWithYsabel posts to catch up with so I hope that gives you something to look forward to on your next visit here in my blog! Stay tuned!