4 hours in Barcelona

4 hours in Barcelona


The MSC poetrya brings us from March 2011 Fort Lauderdale to Genoa. The ship makes a short stopover in Barcelona. We have four hours for a walk around town: from the release of the ship to the time "everyone on board" at 12:30pm That is very little time for this magnificent city. Our recommendations for a city tour lasting several hours, based on practical experience, remain unchanged eleven years later.

Sagrada Familia basilica

We would like to know what progress the monumental construction has made since our last stay. The church has been built since 1882. A waiting taxi takes us from the cruise terminal to the Sagrada Familia, the legendary late work of the versatile architect Antoni Gaudí. The year 2026 marks the 100th anniversary of the master's death. The current plans envisage completion of the church in the anniversary year. The Sagrada Familia is already a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Barcelona panorama with the Sagrada Familia basilica

Barcelona panorama with the Sagrada Familia basilica


Ten minutes later the taxi driver drops us off at the church. We are not the first visitors. 25 people are waiting in front of us for admission. In view of our tight time window, we decide to first walk around the basilica, which was consecrated by Pope Benedict in 2010. No matter from which angle we look at the church, we see the unusual and the fantastic.

Sagrada Familia Basilica - facade detail
Sagrada Familia Basilica - facade detail
Sagrada Familia Basilica - facade detail
Sagrada Familia Basilica - facade detail

Half an hour later we decide not to wait for entry. The number of people waiting has now multiplied to an estimated 150 people.

Under In the footsteps of Antoni Gaudí let's describe our impressions of a visit to the Sagrada Familia in 2017.

Two other important Gaudí buildings on Passeig de Gracia

We walk over to the nearby Sagrada Familia metro station. From there we take line 2 to Passeig de Gracia (metro station Diagonal). After a few steps we are in front of the Casa Milàcalled La Pedrera by the Catalans. “La Pedrera” stands for “quarry” in Spanish. At first glance, the building designed by Antoni Gaudí looks like a rock. Inside it is anything but static. 500 meters separate La Pedrera from the Casa Batllo, another style-defining building by Antoni Gaudí. Both buildings are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Gaudi - Casa Milà - La Pedrera


Gaudi - Casa Milà - La Pedrera


Gaudi - Casa Battlo


Gaudi - Casa Battlo 


Plaça de Catalunya

Half an hour, we're not running and there's a lot to see in Barcelona, ​​we'll walk from Diagonal Metro Station to Plaça de Catalunya. The spacious square is the link between Barcelona's old and new town. At the same time, it is an important above-ground and underground transport hub.

Barcelona - Placa de Catalunya

Barcelona - Placa de Catalunya


The square, which is adorned with monumental sculptures, is lined with commercial buildings built in the neoclassical style. Bars, cafes and restaurants are waiting for guests. The one and a half kilometer long Rambla starts at the Plaça de Catalunya. The tree-lined promenade in the middle of the street leads south to the Column of Columbus on Plaça Portal de la Pau, just before the port.

Barcelona - Office building on Plaça de Catalunya

Barcelona - Office building on Plaça de Catalunya


Barcelona's Arc de Triomphe

We're going in a different direction. From Passeig de Gracia we go to Passeig de Lluis Companys. There stands Barcelona's triumphal arch, the Arc de Triomf. The monumental building, built of brick and richly decorated with sculpted friezes, was erected as the gateway to the World Exhibition of 1888. Its height is more than 30 meters.

Barcelona - Arc de Triomf

Barcelona - Arc de Triomf


Barcelona's Parc de la Ciutadella 

We pass the arch and follow Passeig de Lluis Companys towards the Ciutadella park. The Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris served as a template for the more than 17 hectare site. The park was the location of the world exhibition in 1888. Large green areas, trees, a lake and the fairytale Cascada Monumental make the park a magnet for young and old. The lake in the center of the park is interspersed with islands and is ideal for rowing boat trips. The park is home to the Catalan Parliament and several museums.

Parc de la Ciutadella - Cascada Monumental


Parc de la Ciutadella - Cascada Monumental


Ciutadella park


Ciutadella park 


Barcelona Cathedral

Next, our path takes us to the Convent de Sant Agusti. Carrer de la Princesa runs south of the Convent, which we follow to the Jaume I metro station. The Plaça d'Antoni Maura is a stop on our way to Barcelona's Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia. In the Taverna del Bisbe we treat ourselves to an espresso. Then we stand in front of the Cathedral of Barcelona.

Barcelona - forecourt of the cathedral with the Casa de l'Ardiaca

Barcelona - forecourt of the cathedral with the Casa de l'Ardiaca


The church, built in Gothic style, was completed in 1448. The mighty central tower was added much later, between 1906 and 1913. The cathedral, its roof level, the crypt and the cloister are worth seeing. We like the cloister because of the side chapels, the gardens and the geese that live there. In earlier times they had the role of guardian. There is an entrance fee to visit the cathedral.

Barcelona's promenade, La Rambla

We leave the forecourt of the cathedral and go straight to the boulevard La Rambla. We follow it in the direction of the port. On the way are the market hall St. Josep and the Theater del Liceu. At the height of the Husa Oriente Hotel we turn left through Carrer de Colom to Plaza Reial. The square planted with palm trees impresses with its straight lines and southern flair. In the center is a cast-iron fountain. Cafes and restaurants invite you to linger. We would like to accept the invitation; unfortunately there is no time.

Barcelona - La Rambla - Palau de la Virreina
Barcelona - Flower stand on the Rambla
Barcelona - the Plaza Reial
Barcelona - the Plaza Reial

From the Plaza Reial we walk 500 meters to the Column of Columbus. The Monumento a Colon was also erected for the 1888 World's Fair. We take a tiny lift to the narrow, closed platform 60 meters above the square. We advise against this project for people who are afraid of heights or claustrophobia. Although: you miss out on spectacular views of the city, the port, the surrounding countryside, Montjuïc and the Rambla. The entrance fee is definitely worth a visit to the viewing platform.

Monumento a Colon


Monumento a Colon


La Rambla - seen from the Monumento a Colon


La Rambla - seen from the Monumento a Colon 


The column stands on the Plaça Portal de la pau. From there we take a look at the port administration building, built in the most beautiful confectionery style. Then we take the shuttle bus that stops directly at the Plaça and drive back to the ship.

Barcelona - Promenade at Terminal Drassanes


Barcelona - Promenade at Terminal Drassanes


Port Authority building


Port Authority building 


In the course of this short visit we saw few of the sights of the Catalan metropolis. The fact is: Barcelona is a city that requires longer stays because of the abundance of attractions and not least because of the Mediterranean way of life.

Update December 2022

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