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Flag of CataloniaBarcelona - Coastline

The city's coastline stretches from the "Zona Franca" to the district of Besós. The main attraction in this area is the 212m high hill known as Montjuic. It was given this name because it was dedicated to Jupiter in Roman times (Mont Jovis), although some scholars believe the name comes from "Mont Judaicus" or "Mount of the Jews". The "Layetanos" probably set up their oldest town, known as "Barkeno", on the summit of this hill. In Roman times it was a kind of acropolis crowned with a temple, and in the Middle Ages it had a lighthouse to guide sailors. In the 17C the military castle, which can still be seen today, was built, and later in the 19C the city's large cemetery was located here.

In this century the woods were converted into gardens and sports, fair and cultural installations were built on the occasion of the 1929 Universal Exhibition. It is here that the main installations for the 1992 Olympic Games are located. The Best way of reaching the hill is via the Plaça d ´Espanya, which, like the main halls in the fair and exhibition area, was constructed in 1929. The fair and exhibition area, with the Avinguda de Maria Cristina running down the middle of it, has exhibition halls on both sides. The last two were built by the Modernist architect, Puig I Cadafalch. Further along is the 1986 reconstruction of the "Pabellon de Alemania" (German Pavilion), again built for the 1929 Exhibition. It is the work of Mies Van der Rohe and is considered to be one of the milestones of 20C architectural art. The large illuminated fountain was the work of Buigas.

The National Palace, which crowns the fair and exhibition area, contains the Catalunyan Museum of Art, a museum of the first order due to its collection of Romanesque works, especially wall painting, as well as a fine selection of Gothic works. Near here we find the "Poble Españyol" - an artificial village with buildings, squares and streets that are representative of the whole of Spain. There are small museums, craftsmen's workshops and shops, all of great interest to tourists.

The trip around the hill takes us, in order, to the Archaeological Museum, the Amargós Gardens and the Greek Theatre (which has performances in the summer), the popular "Font del Gat", the Ethnological Museum, the Royal Pavilion, the Laribal Gardens, the Great Stadium, the foot of the Funicular Railway which takes one up to the Castle (the site of the Army Museum), the amusement Park, Miramar (which is going to be restored as the restaurant it originally was after being the headquarters of Spanish Television in Catalunya for many years), and, quite a lot further along, the New Cemetery. Each and every one of these aforementioned places has its own particular interest and those who seek fine archaeological works in the Archaeological Museum, beautiful and varied plants and flowers in the gardens, or perhaps the tombs of famous people in the Cemetery, to give just a few examples, will no be disappointed. From the top of Montjuic the other side of the port can be reached by cable-car. However, we shall continue the itinerary on foot.

The road going down from Montjuic leads to the port. In the square known as Plaça de la Pau there is a monument to Columbus (a lift takes you up as far as his feet), and it is here that La Rambla starts. One may visit a reproduction of the caravel Santa Maria in which Columbus went to America, as well as the highly interesting Maritime Museum, housed in a Gothic building. The port installations can be visited in hired boats or by taking a passenger ferry known as a "golondrina" (swallow). The different sections of the port, i.e. passenger area, cargo area, yacht harbour, breakwater and the lighthouse, are all worth a visit. The Passeig del Moll de la Fusta runs parallel to the Passeig Colom.

In and around the old part of Barcelona there are beautiful squares, such as the ones of El Duc de Medinaceli or la Mercé, as well as the Church of La Mercé. The two streets of Mercé and Gignas, next to the main Post Office, have a lot of popular bars. After the Passeig Colom there is the short Avinguda d´Isabel II, the Plaça de Palau and the Avinguda del Marques de l´Argentera. In the upper section of the Plaça de Palau stands a Gothic building with a Neoclassical appearance. This is "La Llotja" and it houses the Stock Exchange (inside an amazing Gothic hall), the Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Sant Jordi, with a museum that contains works of art from the 18C-20C. In the lower section of the square we find the arcaded Casas d´en Xifre and inside the most famous Catalan restaurant of all, "Les Set Portes", founded 150 years ago.

At the end of the Avinguda del Marqués de l ´Argentera (where the station "Estacion de Francia" is located) is La Ciutadella Park, so called because it was, for more than two centuries, a military fortress. It is a lovely park complete with lake, a waterfall, several fountains, many statues, the fine Zoological Museum "Castel dels Tres Dragons" (designed as a hotel by the architect Domenech i Montaner), El Invernaculo (Conservatory) and El Umbraculo (the buildiing of the Catalan Parliament) which also contains the Museum of Modern Art. There are works of local interest as well as some of universal fame, eg. Fortuny, Nonell, etc. The park also contains the Zoo which is a "must" for all children (and adults for that matter) who are interested in animal life. The high point must surely be to see the white gorilla known as "Copito de Nieve" (Snowflake).

The Passeig Nacional starts in the Plaça de Palau and stretches out towards the sea. Here, on the right-hand side, are the dock warehouses and the fishing cooperative where fish is auctioned, and on the left-hand side is the district of La Barceloneta. This district was built on the mud flats in the middle of the 18C as a fishermen's quarter, and it maintains its original flavour even today. There are restaurants both in the centre as well as the side of the beach, all specialising in fish dishes, along with typical popular snack bars. At the end of the Passeig Nacional there is an interesting Aquarium, and a variety of facilities for public bathing. The Promenade which follows provides fine views across the beach and out to sea. Many people from all over Barcelona come here to bathe in the summer months. Further along is the manufacturing district of Poble Nou, with its beautiful fishing quarter and fishing boats lying on the beach, as well as a very popular and typical Rambla.

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