Santiago Rusiñol and the Catalan modernist movement

Many art enthusiasts think of Pablo Picasso as being a main driving force behind the Catalan modernist movement, but Picasso was actually influenced by another great Catalan artist, Santiago Rusiñol, who was instrumental in transforming Catalonia into an artist’s paradise.

Born in Barcelona in 1861, Rusiñol was one of Catalonia’s most important and influential artists. Many of his works depict beautiful and famous locations in Barcelona and other parts of Spain, including the paintings ‘Girona’, ‘Montserrat’, and ‘Sitges Interior’, as well as the drawing ‘View of Barcelona Port’.

The Cau Ferrat Museum

To learn more about Rusiñol during your next holiday in Spain, pay a visit to the Cau Ferrat Museum in Sitges. Located on the site of Cau Ferrat, which was the artist’s former home and studio, today the museum is a massive assortment of Rusiñol’s personal art collection. Some of the art is Rusiñol’s, while other pieces have been collected from other well-known Catalan artists, such as Picasso and Pichot.

Cau Ferrat Museum

The museum offers you an opportunity to explore the office, bedroom, great hall, dining room, fountain room (yes, fountain room!), and entrance hall, all of which are filled with an array of beautiful, eye-catching, and mesmerising decorative ironworks, glassworks, furniture, sculptures, and ceramics.

Where to Stay

Cau Ferrat is located in the heart of Sitges, so any villa on the Costa Dorada would be ideal for offering quick and easy access to the museum. However, Sitges is located just 40 minutes by road from Barcelona, so you could also rent a property closer to Barcelona and enjoy Cau Ferrat as part of a day trip.


Breakfast in Barcelona

While breakfast in many countries is largely based on savoury items, such as buttered toast, a bacon sandwich, or a bran-based cereal, things are a little different in Spain. In fact, Spanish breakfasts are an interesting mix of sweet and savoury, with offerings such as Spanish omelettes and sugar-coated churros. When you’re on holiday in Barcelona you’ll have a great opportunity to try out these yummy local foods.

Churros.

What to Eat

Although Spain, France, and Italy are three very distinct countries, cultural influences naturally spill over, and this is especially true when it comes to breakfast. While charcuterie is believed to have originated in France and Italy, it is today a very important part of a Spanish breakfast or brunch. You’ll also notice a rise in the number of American-style breakfasts on offer across the city, with modern establishments making a name for themselves as great places for waffles, crepes, and eggs Benedict.

When to Eat

Don’t be tempted to leave your Barcelona villa too early in the morning. Many locals will have a quick breakfast at home before a ‘proper’ breakfast at around 10am. Lunch may not be until 3 or 4pm, with dinner happening from 9pm. If you’re tired from the night before, you’ll be pleased to know that a Spanish breakfast usually includes a strong café con leche!

Cafe con leche.

Where to Eat

If there’s one thing that Barcelona isn’t short of, it’s places to eat! There are lots of great breakfast and brunch places all across the city. However, don’t feel like you need to venture out for breakfast every morning during your Barcelona vacation. If you’ve booked a villa in Barcelona with a kitchen, you could always pop to the local market and pick up some fresh, local produce to whip up your own Spanish breakfast!


Barcelona: Beyond the border

Taking a Barcelona holiday provides you with both the beach and the mountains on your doorstep, as well as numerous opportunities to discover the city’s historic architecture. While it’s easy to be blinded by the beauty of Barcelona, it’s important not to overlook some of the spectacular places that are located just outside of Barcelona’s border, such as the following.

Villa Torrelles de Llobregat.

Agrari Park

Situated just south of Barcelona’s Llobregat district, Agrari Park is often referred to as ‘Barcelona’s backyard’. A historic agricultural area, there is an extensive agro-ecosystem here with all sorts of plants, crops, and wildlife. Tours to the park have recently been introduced in an effort to encourage more people to eat fresh and highlight ecotourism in Spain. If you’ve ever eaten artichoke when you’ve been on holiday in Spain, chances are it came from the Agrari Park region!

Rubi

The little town of Rubi lies about 9 miles north of Barcelona and makes for an excellent day trip from your Barcelona accommodation. Rubi is a real blend of old and new with historic Roman ruins mixed with more modern architecture, built following the flood of 1962. One of the biggest attractions here is the town museum, located inside an old converted farmhouse. The museum tells stories of the town’s history and offers an extensive open space for exhibitions and concerts.

Badalona.

Badalona

The coastal city of Badalona is very close to Barcelona and is home to old Roman baths, a historic 19th-century theatre, neoclassical churches, great shopping streets, and golden beaches.


Dine with the stars at Barcelona’s Fabra Observatory

If you’re looking to enjoy a romantic getaway with a loved one, why not consider a holiday in Barcelona? They may say that Paris is the ‘City of Love’, but Barcelona is the ‘Capital of Romance’, and it has fast become a favourite holiday destination for lovers from across the globe.

There are plenty of romantic options in and around Barcelona for a night out for two. First, opt for booking a villa with private pool in Spain for the ultimate in luxury and relaxation, followed by a dinner underneath the stars at one of the city’s most romantic restaurants.

 

 

Dinner With Stars’ (or Sternalia) isn’t a restaurant, it’s an experience. Taking place in the summer months, availability is limited as couples from all over the world flock to Barcelona to enjoy this unique outing that includes fine dining with a view of the solar system. While cooking up a romantic dinner at your Barcelona villa is certainly a wonderful option, nothing quite beats the incredible experience of Dinner With Stars.

The Dinner With Stars experience takes place at the Fabra Observatory. Built in 1904, it is one of the world’s oldest working observatories, and the 32P/Comas Solà comet was actually discovered here. Located on Mount Tibidabo, the observatory is easy to reach from most Barcelona accommodations.

Fabra Observatory

All dishes at the Fabra Observatory are themed and take on galaxy-related names. Some of the top choices include the ‘Star Nebula’ salmon, and the ‘Textures in Cosmos’ beef tenderloin. If you’ve booked a family villa in Barcelona and have brought the little ones with you on your romantic getaway, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s also a great children’s menu here, with macaroni, French fries, and ice cream! Whether you have the kids in tow or it’s just you and your beloved, the experience is an unforgettable way to celebrate your love.

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Barcelona: Catalonia’s ‘Smart City’

Catalonia may appear to be a very quiet and historic part of the world ― and it is! ― but it also is one of the most technologically advanced hubs in Europe and is considered to be one of the world’s only ‘smart cities’. Along with destinations such as Amsterdam, Madrid, Manchester, and Stockholm, Barcelona is changing the way we live, work, and take holidays.

Image from barcinno.com.

What is a Smart City?

A smart city is a city that makes use of digital technology to improve everyday life for both residents and visitors. At some locations in Barcelona, for example, you may notice that live traffic data is transmitted to road signs to provide drivers with up-to-date, real-time information to help them determine the most efficient route. Another example is in in Stockholm where snow clearance data can be transmitted.

Smart Barcelona

How can technology help visitors have a safe and enjoyable holiday in Barcelona? The city’s ‘smart’ street lamps that illuminate when the sun goes down help improve safety in the city at night, and urban development programmes help make cities like Barcelona a great place to explore and discover.

View from Parc Guell.

Barcelona is home to an impressive fibre network which allows for excellent internet connectivity for residents and visitors, especially in the city. Many villas in Barcelona are able to offer their guests a fast and reliable internet service, although some properties in the rural parts of the region are still working to make the connection as efficient as that in the city, and have made tremendous strides in recent years.

Old & New

Catalonia is a fascinating mix of old and new, combining tradition with the latest technological advancements. This makes it one of the most interesting places to take a holiday in Spain, and allows you to enjoy a touch of history and culture while staying in a very modern and contemporary environment.


Exploring Plaça de Catalunya

Plaça de Catalunya is one of Barcelona’s most beautiful and stunning plazas, located within an easy reach of many popular sights and attractions. Large, airy, and open, there’s a true metropolitan feel here, and there is plenty for visitors to see and do in and around the square.

Old Meets New 

Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Plaça de Catalunya is that it acts as the meeting place of the two different sides of the city: Old Barcelona and New Barcelona. To the south of the plaza, you’ll find the historic district of El Gotico (the Gothic Quarter), while to the north you’ll find the more modern, 19th-century neighbourhood of L’Eixample. Ultimately, Plaça de Catalunya is a great place for seeing just how diverse Barcelona really is.

Things to Do

From shopping for souvenirs to admiring some of the best in Catalan art, there’s lots do at the Plaza:

Shopping

If you want to bring home some souvenirs from your holiday in Spain, then Plaça de Catalunya’s main shopping centre, El Corte Ingles, is the place to go. This massive department store offers everything from toys and fashion to electronics and home decor from some of the world’s biggest and best brands.

Art

In addition to a whole host of intricate mosaics, there’s a great deal of jaw-dropping Catalan art dotted around the plaza. By simply strolling around the square, you’ll find statues by famed Catalan sculptor Josep Clarà i Ayats, and renowned Spanish painter Pablo Emilio Gargallo.

Atmosphere

Perhaps one of the best things to do at Plaça de Catalunya is simply soak up the atmosphere. This is considered to be the main meeting point in the city; a place for socialising and celebrating. Its central location means it’s easy to get to on foot or by bus or train, no matter where your Barcelona holiday rental is.


Costa Brava’s most beautiful museums

If you found your vacation rental in Costa Brava, the next step is to decide how you want to spend your time in this gorgeous, peaceful region of Catalonia. When planning your stay, here are four of the area’s top museums to give you something to ponder, plus a bit of information about each to help you make an informed decision.

Ruins of Empuries

This unique experience is called the Ruins of Empuries, which was part of both the Greek and Roman civilizations. It has more than 2,500 years of history to explore in this ancient once-city. You’ll find ruins of homes, factories, streets, an amphitheatre, a forum, a basilica, and plenty of statues, mosaics, and artwork. You can check out the Greek god of medicine statue, Asclepios, the Greek wharf, and the Archaeology Museum. Plus, this amazing historical site is surrounded by picturesque beaches with gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Museu d’Historia de la Joguina

If you’re interested in historical toys, and especially if you have children, you are certain to love the Museu d’Historia de la Joguina. But this museum isn’t just for kids! It is located in a beautiful 19th-century home with gorgeous stained glass windows, amazing architecture, antique furniture, wrought ironwork, and a special glimpse into the life and times of 19th-century living.

Museo del Far de Tossa

There is so much to see in the seaside town of Tossa de Mar, and the Museo del Far de Tossa is no exception. It is located in the lighthouse at the top of the hill and offers not only the history of the lighthouse, sea travel, and Tossa de Mar, but also a gorgeous view of the sea and the surrounding town and beaches. You can also walk the beach, check out some of the shops, grab some delicious food, or just explore the area and take amazing pictures to help you remember your trip.

Tossa de Mar

The Municipal Museum

The Municipal Museum is one of the best art museums in Costa Brava. Not only will you enjoy the art, but you’ll love the gorgeous views. Head there for sunset and grab some amazing photos!

Now that you’re more informed about the historic region that is Costa Brava, you can plan educational and scenic day trips from your gorgeous rental villa in Costa Brava and leave with a new appreciation for Catalonia.


‘Game of Thrones’ filming spots in Barcelona and around

Are you a die-hard Game of Thrones fan? You’ll probably already know that the cast have been filming in Barcelona and in other areas of Catalonia, especially throughout Girona. Barcelona’s cobbled old town and Girona’s medieval streets make for excellent backdrops for this popular fantasy series.

If you’re keen to see these filming locations with your own eyes, here’s a DIY walking tour for you:

Begin your tour at the Tourist Information Centre in Girona. If you’re staying in a villa in Barcelona, you can catch the train directly from Barcelona Sants Station to Girona, which takes around 40 minutes. Cross the Sant Feliu Bridge, pass by the River Cafe, and head down Carrer del Bellaire. Take the steps down at Carrer del Riu Galligant, and you’ll be in the GoT ‘Old town’.

The large, imposing monastery you see before you is actually called Sant Pere de Galligants, and it’s home to the city’s archaeology museum. However, to GoT fans it’s none other than the Maesters’ citadel. Stroll around the garden, then cross the bridge and climb the stairs to Plaza del Jurats. You’ll recognise this plaza as being the theatre backdrop for some of Arya’s scenes.

By taking the stairs from the plaza, you’ll find yourself in the Arabic Baths, which is where the Braavos market scenes with Arya were filmed. Walk down Carrer de Ferran el Catolic (it eventually becomes Via Augusta) until you reach the beautiful Girona Cathedral which is, of course, the Great Sept of Baelor. The church played a huge role in the series 6 finale!

After exploring the cathedral, you’re in a great spot for strolling around the main city centre before heading back to the station to catch a train to your Barcelona accommodation. Alternatively, rent a villa on the Costa Brava, in towns such as Blanes and Lloret de Mar, which offer easy access to Girona.

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Exploring Barcelona’s El Born neighbourhood

There are many great locations to consider when choosing where to stay for your holiday in Spain, but perhaps one of the most exciting is the El Born neighbourhood. The lively, eclectic neighbourhood is located in the Ciutat Vella (Old Town), nestled between Plaça Catalunya and the beach.

About El Born

On the surface, El Born appears to be remarkably similar to the historic Gothic Quarter with its narrow, cobbled streets and old time charm. However, situated just a tiny bit further from the main city centre, El Born tends to have less of a touristy feel, making it a great place to learn more about ‘real’ local life. Despite not being within the main hub of hustle and bustle, there is still plenty to see and do in El Born, including the Picasso Museum, Ciutadella Park, and the Barcelona Zoo. El Born is also recognised as an up-and-coming ‘hip’ district, doing for Barcelona what Brooklyn did for New York City.

What to See and Do

Passeig del Born is one of the city’s top nightlife hotspots, located along the beautiful, tree-lined street. The neighbourhood is also home to some of the most breathtaking architecture in all of Spain, including the mesmerising Santa Maria del Mar church. Thanks to the presence of the Picasso Museum, there’s also a very definite artistic vibe running through the streets, and El Born has fast become a favourite Bohemian hangout.

Staying in El Born

While there may be fewer larger options (big family villas in Spain are often located in more spacious areas, for example), what you will find in El Born is a wide range of cozy and charming apartments that are full of character and personality. With rooms often located above the shops and restaurants within the pedestrianised streets, you will find stunning rooftop terraces and views of the city, mountains, and beyond.

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Barcelona’s Christmas markets

Travellers come from all over the world to the famous European Christmas markets, which are a festive blend of handmade decorations, beautiful gifts, local foods, and, of course, plenty of grog. So if you’re considering taking a holiday in Spain during December, here’s what to expect from the Christmas markets like in Barcelona.

As a winter festive location, Barcelona isn’t quite as renowned as places in Germany or Poland, for example. If you’ve visited the markets in Northern Europe in the past, you may find Barcelona’s offerings to be a little less atmospheric, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth making the trip. In fact, Christmas is actually one of the very best times in Barcelona, accompanied by winter sun, mulled wine, and sparkling cava.

There are two main markets in Barcelona, both of which are centrally located so they’re very easy to get to from your Barcelona accommodation. The biggest market (which is still relatively small by European standards) is the Santa Llúcia market which is held in the square at the front of the Barcelona Cathedral. This is an excellent place to pick up some Catalan decorations for your Christmas tree. The smaller market is located at La Sagrada Família, and is a wonderful place to peruse unique and unusual trinkets.

It’s not just the markets that make Barcelona a great holiday choice for the winter. Shops and department stores often feature amazing Christmas displays, and twinkling lights illuminate the street at dusk. So while Barcelona’s Christmas markets aren’t the biggest or most spectacular, they’re still incredibly magical, and they help make Barcelona a great year-round destination. Take a few days away from the stresses and strains of Christmas shopping back home, and enjoy a relaxing pre-Christmas break in Spain!

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