Experience The Semana Santa Piety In Barcelona

Spain has always been the cradle of Christianity ever since the religion came over tot eh continent of Europe. Several traditions have developed over the centuries that have been an integral part of the local culture. The celebration of the Holy Week or the Semana Santa is one such that is fraught with a lot of religious sentiments that accompany the parades and the processions. It is the perfect time to experience the piety of this week that begins on the Sunday from your rented villa in Barcelona, prior to the week of Good Friday till Easter Sunday in Barcelona.

The processions and piety

The best way to explore is of course by going around the city on foot as you visit the most famous Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia or even the other magnificent churches. There are several brotherhoods of the lay people that take out processions to mark the penitence of the Holy Week that is a part of the forty days of penance in Catholicism.

Those that participate in the procession wear interesting costumes that cover the entire face and the body in the indigo cloth leaving only two small holes for the eyes to see.  The cone shaped cap signifies the union with Divinity in the heavenly abode and the color signifies the Passion and the pain of Christ with which the Christian penitent identifies during this time. They also carry wooden figure from the Biblical verse with them to portray the life of Christ especially His Passion.

The celebration of the Passion

Maundy Thursday or the day before Good Friday is the time when you can witness the elaborate services in the Cathedral and the churches. The tradition of the priest washing the feet of the lay people signify the humility and the service of Chris who finally lay down His life for them.

Most churches will be decorated for the adoration of Christ from the Good Friday after the service till the Easter Sunday celebration that is filled with joy to signify the Resurrecting of Christ from the dead. You will do well to find out the specific timings of the Good Friday services in the individual churches. All establishments in Spain will be closed during this period except for the eateries.

The Easter Goodies

You will find a lot of Eater goodies in the market during this time that are typical to the Catalonian traditions. Apart from the traditional Easter eggs, there are the La Mona da Pascua that is a richly decorated with the chocolate eggs and the chicks to signify the new life of the Risen Christ. Godfathers gift them to the godsons as a part of their lesson in Christianity. There are also the Pestinos that are deep fried pastries coated with honey and sugar.


Holiday in Spain: What You Need to Know Before You Go to Barcelona!

Most people agree that Spain is one of the best holiday destinations in the world. And they are correct for many reasons. If you are planning to take a vacation and heading to Spain, more specifically Barcelona, you should know a few things. This will not ruin your holiday experience. On the contrary, this will enhance your holiday Spain experience because you will be well informed.

Forget Queuing

Typically, queuing makes everything run smoothly, in an organized manner. However, in Spain, queuing is not common. The only place you will find queues is in tourist attraction sites. Even at these places, someone will jump queue unapologetically. Do not mind pushing and shoving, with a smile on your face. Everyone does it anyway. If you are going to Barcelona during the high season, prepare your elbows.

Be Polite but Do Not Overdo It

You are used to saying the words ‘thank-you’ and ‘please’ most of the time, which is okay. These words come automatically without giving much thought. In Barcelona, you will have a different experience. Please note that people in Barcelona are not rude. It is only that they do not use these words unless they mean them. Therefore, use your word ‘sorry’ sparingly. When you are looking for your Barcelona accommodation, be polite but do not overdo it.

Stay Alert

There are many pickpockets in Barcelona. Do not drop your guard once you arrive in this beach city because pickpockets will ruin your holiday experience. You can lose your camera, wallet or any other valuable item within a blink of an eye. All you need to do is stay alert because most pickpockets distract you first before stealing from you. Your holiday in Spain will go smoothly if you avoid suspicious characters who engage in vague conversation. They want to confuse you before taking off with your stuff.

Prepare for a Laidback Environment

You will feel like screaming in frustration if you are accustomed to fast services. You are on vacation anyway so slow down. Everything is laidback in Spain. It will take some time before you get seated in a restaurant (even if you have made a reservation). When you rent a villa in Barcelona, you can practice patience and adjust to this laidback lifestyle. Make sure you allocate extra time for everything you do if you do not want to yell in frustration.

No Shopping on Sundays

You will not rest because you want to; circumstances will force you to. Most restaurants and shops do not open on Sundays. It is a Spanish tradition and perhaps the only thing you will accomplish on a Sunday is booking a villa in Barcelona.


June events in Barcelona

June is the month when Barcelona really starts to come alive for the summer with a huge range of events and celebrations to kick off the season. Booking a family villa in Barcelona just before the mass of summer tourists flock in is a wise move as the city exudes a festive atmosphere and gorgeous weather.

Sant Joan

On the June 23, Barcelona residents celebrate the festival of Sant Joan. On the night itself the street lights up with a huge display of fireworks and bonfires all over the city, but especially on the beaches. It is not unusual for these displays to last until the early hours of the following morning. You can enjoy the spectacle from the comfort of your Barcelona accommodation while sampling a glass of cava and piles of coca, a type of seasonal bread that is topped with candied fruits.

Pride Barcelona

One of the most colorful events on the Barcelona events calendar is the Pride Festival, a 10-day festival where Barcelona shows its gay pride. You can find parties, concerts, and more, all topped off with a spectacular parade.

Sonar

This three-day international music festival is a must-see for anyone who loves electronic music and contemporary arts. The festival is celebrating its 25th year and the days include record fairs, art displays, exhibitions, and conferences, while at night concerts and DJs perform at multiple venues just outside the city.

Musica als Parcs

Another great reason to have a Barcelona vacation rental in June is the free al-fresco concerts that run throughout the summer in some of the city’s main parks. There’s jazz, various classical music, and bands, so pack a picnic and enjoy a few blissful hours under the sun.


Springtime in Mallorca

Spring is a fantastic time to rent a villa in Mallorca as it is when the island really starts to come alive, but without the crowded beaches and increased prices that the summer season brings. The weather is just starting to creep up at this time of year, making the island and ideal location for outdoor excursions and possibly a bit of sun bathing.

Stunning Scenery

This is the time of year when the island showcases its almond blossom in full bloom, and it is arguably when the island looks its best. Lush and green with plenty of wildlife, the Tramuntana mountains are a must-see in the spring, so try to book a villa in Mallorca on the west coast of the island.

Some of the most idyllic hotspots include Valldemossa, Deia, and Soller. These towns exhibit an old-fashioned beauty thanks to their cobblestone streets and stone Mallorquin houses, many of which are decorated with exotic flowers.

Hiking

Hiking in this region in the peak of summer is not always a good idea. Although in the mountains the temperatures do tend to drop slightly, it can still be very hot. The milder weather that spring brings offers the perfect conditions for hiking or cycling.

The most popular route in the area is the Dry Stone Route which is an eight-day trek up the mountains and can be completed in parts.

Culture

If cycling and hiking are not appealing, there are plenty of other things to keep visitors occupied in the springtime. There are art galleries and museums to visit, or simply exploring some of the towns and enjoy the local cuisine and coffee shops. Alternatively, many people come at this time of year to escape the tourist crowds and enjoy some quiet time in their villas with pools in Mallorca.


Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter

Booking your vacation rental in Barcelona puts you just a short train or car ride away from the city’s Gothic Quarter where you are surrounded by stunning architecture and a hub of activity. The streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter are filled with medieval buildings and trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants. What’s more, you are in the heart of the city, thus within easy reach of all the other main attractions.

Barcelona Cathedral

History

The area is known as the Gothic Quarter due to its former existence as an ancient Roman village. You will still be able to find many remains of its glorious past. Because of the constant modernisation of the area, it’s not unusual for you to spot a modern building right next to an ancient one. It’s this eclectic mix of old and new that brings people from all over the world to this historic barrio.

Shopping

There is an abundance of shopping opportunities in the Gothic Quarter. For commercial shopping head to Carrer Portal de l’Angel, or you can spend hours popping in and out of the little boutiques of Carrer d’Avinyo. You are also in close proximity to Las Ramblas, which has an abundance of shops and market stalls.

Architecture

When exploring the narrow labyrinth of streets, be sure to look up so as not to miss all of the best bits. Bridges and archways span across the roads, and the decor on some of the buildings is extremely detailed.

Plaça Reial

There are many squares where you can sit outside with a drink and enjoy your surroundings. In the heart of one is the areas main attraction, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulàlia. The cathedral was constructed from the 13th to the 15th centuries and is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. One of its most notable features is the roof, scattered with gargoyles and a host of other mythical creatures.

Dining

If you don’t want to dine in your villa in Barcelona, you will be spoilt for choice with the amount of restaurants and bars in this area. Plaça Reial is always popular during both the day and night, and there is a great deal of nightlife on offer.


Catalonia: Beyond the border

Spending a holiday in Catalonia means experiencing one of the most diverse and stunning locales in Europe, but just as much beauty and splendour lie just beyond the borders of the region in northeastern Spain. Venturing a little further is a great way to extend your holiday in Spain and see more of the region and what it has to offer. Here are three nearby towns and regions that are well worth visiting.

Monzón

Monzón is a small place with a very rich and fascinating history. It offers breathtaking scenery thanks to the two rivers that flow through the area — the Sosa and the Cinca — and many come here to view the impressive hilltop castle which boasts a very ornate and somewhat Moorish design.

Journey time from Barcelona: Approximately 2 hours

Peñiscola.

Peñiscola

Peñiscola is located just down the coastline from the Ebro Delta, narrowly missing out on being a part of Catalonia. Often called the ‘City in the Sea’, Peñiscola is said to be one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and attracts large numbers of visitors who are drawn to the old medieval walls and castle.

Journey time from Barcelona: 2.5 hours

Journey time from Tarragona: 1.5 hours

Perpignan

Although located just outside of Catalonia in Southern France, Perpignan is highly influenced by Catalonia, and many street signs are actually written in both French and Catalan. The area is famous for its wine, olive oil, and cork, as well as for its attractive bridges that cross the River Basse.

Perpignan.

Journey time from Barcelona: 2 hours by car

If you’re looking for a few day trips or overnight stays to enjoy as part of your Barcelona vacation, and you’re thinking of exploring the world beyond the Catalan border, then these three places are definitely worth adding to your list.


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.


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.


Best ways to spend your time on the Costa Brava

Once you have booked your Costa Brava vacation villa and are preparing your visit to this Catalan region just north of Barcelona, here are a few fun activities throughout the region that you may want to consider adding to your adventure-packed agenda during your holiday in Spain!

Cap de Creus National Park

Cap de Creus National Park offers gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea along with unique rock formations, heaps of walking and hiking trails, and a lighthouse that also houses a restaurant.

Cap de Creus National Park.

Cami de Ronda

This long stretch of hiking trails has incredible geological formations and plenty of plants and wildlife to enjoy. Relax by the emerald-green waters after a long hike, or take a boat out into the sea and admire the coastline from afar.

Jardi Botanic Marimurtra.

Jardi Botanic Marimurtra

A beautiful botanical garden awaits at Jardi Botanic Marimurtra. It is located on top of a cliff that overlooks gorgeous Mediterranean Sea views. The garden itself contains more than 4,000 plant types and is the creation of Carl Faust from Germany. You can also admire the beautiful Mediterranean architectural styles of the buildings around the garden, and the azure waters down below.

Playas de Calella

Looking for a nice, relaxing day at the beach? Check out Playas de Calella! The sand is warm and inviting, the waters are a beautiful blue, and a nearby village provides food and entertainment.


Explore Catalonia’s ancient ruins

As you probably already know, Catalonia is famous for its rich history. The region is actually home to some of the best-preserved Medieval towns and villages in the world, making it a truly fascinating place to explore.

If you’re interested in delving back even further in the region’s history and learning more about the Greek and Roman eras on your next holiday in Spain, then be sure to check out some of Catalonia’s ancient ruins. From historic walled remains to first-century racecourses, the Catalonia region has plenty to uncover. Here are three of the region’s best-preserved ancient ruins that are open to the public.

Empúries 

The old town of Empúries was founded in 575 BC by the Greeks, although the town was eventually taken over by the Romans. Excavations on the town began in the 1900s, and today it’s possible to see old homes, temples, walls, and mosaics, and there’s even the Museum of MAC-Empúries which provides a little context for the ruins that you’re seeing.

The highlights are the gardens, where you can learn more about traditional Roman medicine, and the underground crypt, which has only recently opened to the public. Book a Costa Brava vacation rental or stay in L’Escala and take the pedestrianised coastal path right along the water to the town.

Tarragona Amphitheatre

Built in the 2nd century, the Tarragona Amphitheatre is one of the main attractions in this old town, which was once a thriving Roman colony known as Tarraco. Taking on a traditional colosseum appearance, it is believed that the amphitheatre could once hold up to 15,000 spectators at a time, making it one of the largest in Europe.

When Islam took over from Catholicism as the primary religion in Spain, the amphitheatre was abandoned, and over the years it has housed a church and has been used as a prison. Luckily for those taking a vacation in Spain, the theatre was somewhat recovered in recent years and today is a remarkably well-preserved site, one of many ancient ruins dotted around Tarragona.

Circ Roma

Another great location in Tarragona is Circ Roma, or the Roman Circus. Built in the first century, this was the place to see and be seen, and it played a major role in leisurely life during Roman ruling. Somewhat of an ancient alternative to the modern Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the Roman Circus was the best place in Catalonia to watch fast-action chariot races. Perhaps one of Catalonia’s best-preserved ruins, remaining inscriptions have led experts to believe that the racetrack remained in use until the fifth century, when it was abandoned.

A part of the track is still very much intact, making it a truly amazing place to explore. Tarragona is easy to reach from most villas on the Costa Dorada, but it’s also just a one hour drive from Barcelona, making it a top choice for a day trip during your Barcelona holiday.

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