Barcelona has it all – beautiful beaches, a fantastic climate, a whopping 8 UNESCO sites, home to many of the extraordinary works of Gaudi and fantastic food. No wonder it is such a popular tourist destination. Barcelona makes for a brilliant European weekend away but really deserves multiple visits or several days of your time.
Here are 23 Barcelona landmarks that you’ll want to see.
23 Barcelona Landmarks
Table of Contents
- 1 23 Barcelona Landmarks
- 1.1 1. Casa Batlló
- 1.2 2. Basílica La Sagrada Familia
- 1.3 3. Park Güell
- 1.4 4. Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor
- 1.5 5. Picasso Museum
- 1.6 6. Basilica Santa Maria del Mar
- 1.7 7. Palau Guell
- 1.8 8. Casa Mila
- 1.9 9. Magic Fountain (Font Magica)
- 1.10 10. Las Rambla
- 1.11 11. Palau de la Musica Catalana
- 1.12 12. Camp Nou
- 1.13 13. Mercat de la Boqueria
- 1.14 14. Barceloneta Beach
- 1.15 15. Parc de la Ciutadella
- 1.16 16. Arc de Triomf
- 1.17 17. Cathedral de Barcelona
- 1.18 18. Joan Miro Foundation
- 1.19 19. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
- 1.20 20. Casa Vicens Gaudi
- 1.21 21. Tibidabo Amusement Park
- 1.22 22. Agbar Tower
- 1.23 23. Columbus Monument
1. Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is a big and beautiful building in the heart of Barcelona. Designed in 1904 by famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, it’s considered one of his most famous works of art.
The unique layout of the building is truly mesmerising. It showcases Modern architecture, Expressionist architecture, and Modernisme.
It features unusual tracery, mismatched oval and rectangle windows, protruding balconies, and colourful ceramic tiles. The arched roof has a scaly appearance and has been compared to that of a dragon or a dinosaur. It’s one of the most bizarre and wonderful landmarks of Spain.
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The interior is just as fascinating. It’s worth booking a tour to explore the full package.
2. Basílica La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is probably one of the first Spanish landmarks you think of when you picture the country. This iconic basilica is truly one of a kind. Designed by the imaginative architect Antonio Gaudi, his signature creative style is on full display.
The construction for the church started in 1882 and still isn’t finished. It’s an ongoing process that isn’t expected to be completed until 2026. The building blends religious elements with natural symbols in an artistic way that will leave you completely mesmerised.
Sagrada Familia receives approximately 4.5 million visitors every year. The number of tickets for sale as well as the entry times is limited. This is definitely a European landmark you want to book a skip the line ticket ahead of your visit.
Tickets can be purchased up to 2 months in advance and are available in 15 minute slots. Once you have entered Sagrada Familia you may stay for as long as you like. Entrance to the towers costs extra.
3. Park Güell
Park Güell is a fascinatingly fun park system in Barcelona. It’s another beautiful landmark designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. Like his other signature works, it comprises eclectic architectural elements that effortlessly inspire creativity.
It was built from 1900 to 1914, however not until 1926 was it opened to the public. Some of the unique areas of interest include a serpentine bench, curved and covered footpaths, colourful tiled mosaics, and a dragon stairway.
4. Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor
The Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor translates to the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This striking Roman Catholic church and minor basilica sits on the summit of Mount Tibidabo in Barcelona.
It was built by a father-son duo. Spanish architect Enric Sagnier started the construction in 1902, and his son, Josep Maria Sagnier Vidal finished it in 1961.
The Neo-Gothic cathedral features handsome stonework, vibrant stained-glass windows, and a large bronze statue of Jesus at the very top. There is also a viewing platform where you can admire panoramic views of Barcelona.
5. Picasso Museum
This beautiful museum opened in 1963 and celebrates the relationships between Pablo Picasso and Barcelona. The museum features work by the artist from 1917 until his death. It includes all of his artistic periods including still life, surrealism, sculptures, and has 4251 works in the permanent collection.
The museum focuses on some of the artist’s most formative years and is exhaustive when it comes to his Blue Period. It also the series Las Meninas (1957) as well as a comprehensive print collection.
Interestingly, this museum was actually created by Picasso’s express desire. This desire was realised by Picasso’s close friend Jaume Sabartes, Picasso’s wife Jacqueline and the Barcelona City Council.
6. Basilica Santa Maria del Mar
This Catalan Gothic style church is in the Ribera district of Barcelona. Basilica Santa Maria del Mar is open every day to visitors and entrance is free – but do check the opening hours as they vary across the week. The church is also known as the Cathedral of La Ribera.
In the Middle Ages, it often took a very long time to build a church. Santa Maria del Mar was completed in just 55 years between 1329 and 1384. As a result it is the only suriving church in the pure Catalan Gothic style.
The church has many beautiful stained glass windows. The window of the Ascension, in the chapel of Santa Maria, and the Lavabo in the chapel of Sant Rafael, as well as the great rose window, are some of the most beautiful examples. The latter was destroyed during the earthquake that shook Barcelona in 1428, and remade in the mid-15th century.
If you look at the floor of the church you’ll see private tombs and those of Barcelona’s medieval guilds and brotherhoods. The basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, which was designed by Berenguer de Montagut, was the place of worship for the shipwrights and merchants of Gothic Barcelona.
7. Palau Guell
Another one of Barcelona’s 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this mansion was designed by Antoni Gaudi for the tycoon Eusebi Guell and was built between 1886 and 1888. The iron gates were intended to let in guests on horse-drawn carriages. There are small windows high on the walls that allowed the owners to check out their guests before they entered.
Gaudie was commissioned to create this building in 1885. This is one of Gaudi’s earliest works in Barcelona and one of the best examples of Modernism architecture. The building was designed to have multiple purposes – apartments and event and exhibition spaces. It is just off La Rambla in the Raval district.
One of the highlights of Palau Guell is the roof and its 20 ceramics-covered chimneys which were installed in 1895. Palau Guell is open year-round to visitors but is closed on Mondays.
8. Casa Mila
This was the last building designed by Gaudi before he embarked on his final masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. The building is made of stone but stonemasons were able to carve the stone into extraordinary curved and waved shapes. This residential building does not have the colour of Gaudi’s other buildings but the shape is quite spectacular.
The nickname of Casa Mila is La Perdrera which means the quarry house. The nickname was given because of the building’s unusual construction. In particular, the irregular shapes of its facade remind some of a quarry. The house consists of two components which are connected only by the facade, the ground floor and the roof. Each has its own yard and entrance.
The interior of Casa Mila was also very innovative. The house has a natural ventilation system making air conditioning unnecessary. And as Casa Mila was designed with natural shapes there are virtually no right angles in the building.
Casa Mila is known for the fantastic views of Barcelona that can be seen from its roof. The roof also contains some ornate chimneys and staircases and the attic holds a room dedicated to Gaudi.
Casa Mila is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona. It is best to book tickets to visit in advance. There are also two unique ways to experience Casa Mila. The first is the Early Bird Tour of the Awakening of La Pedrera which is at 8 am and before regular opening hours. The second is to visit Casa Mila in the dark and experience an audio-visual art installation.
9. Magic Fountain (Font Magica)
Designed by Carles Buigas in 1929, this fabulous fountain is a mix of light, music, colour and motion. It was originally deemed too ambitious but it delivered on its promise and still plays today Thursday through Sunday from 9 to 11pm. The fountain is located on the hill of Montjuic. Whilst you’re visiting take the cable car to the top to see Montjuic Castle.
10. Las Rambla
Barcelona’s very own Champs-Elysee, this 1.2 kilometre tree lined boulevard runs through the centre of Barcelona. La Rambla is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants and filled with markets and street artists. The street runs from Port Vell up to Place Catalunya. Don’t miss exploring its many side streets.
La Rambla is divided into several sections, each of which has its own character. The top part of La Rambla begins at the Placa Catalunya, named after the Font de Canalates. The saying goes that those who drink from the fountain here always return to Barcelona.
Rambla dels Estudis is the next section and is named after the University which was demolished in 1843. This part of the street is known as Rambla del Ocells or bird Rambla as there are many bird sellers. There are also stores selling guinea pigs, dogs and turtles. This section aslo includes the Esglesia di Betlem and the Palau Moja.
Heading towards the sea, the bird stores are replaced by florists in the section known as Rambla de les Flors. In the 19th century, this was the only area in Barcelona that sold flowers. If you head off La Rambla you will see the biggest market in Barcelona Mercat de la Boqueria. The end of this section of La Rambla is marked by a Juan Miro-designed square Pla de la Boqueria.
The next section of the street is Rambla dels Catutxins, home to street actors, living statues and cafes. This section also inclues the Opera de Gran Teatro Liceu.
The final section is known as Rambla de Santa Monica. This area is home to souvenir stands and art dealers as well as street artists and the contemporary Museum Centre d’Art de Monica.
If you’re looking to get a good view of La Rambla head to the iron statute of Colombus at the Maremagnum Complex.
11. Palau de la Musica Catalana
This concert hall was built between 1905 and 1908 and designed in a modern Catalan style by architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best way to appreciate Palau de la Musica Catalana is to attend a musical performance here.
12. Camp Nou
One of the world’s most famous football grounds, Camp Nou opened in 1957 and the pitch has been played by many of the most famous footballers of modern times. This is Europe’s largest football stadium and home to FC Barcelona.
It is possible to take a tour of the stadium and to visit the museum which holds club treasures like Lionel Messi’s six Ballon D’Or trophies. Don’t miss heading to the press box for panoramic views of the entire stadium. It is also possible to see the dressing rooms and to visit the chapel which some players spend time in before games. Perhaps best of all is to take a walk through the player tunnel to the lawn itself.
13. Mercat de la Boqueria
This extraordinary food market started trading in 1840 and is incredibly on trend today. It offers a wide rante of fresh produce as well as more ready to eat foods like tapas as well as offering cookery workshops. Mercat de la Boqueria is just off Las Ramblas and visited by both tourists and locals.
14. Barceloneta Beach
Barcelona’s most well known beach is located in the fishing quarter of the city. It was the setting of the fight between Don Quixote and the Knight of the White Moon in the book Don Quixote. Today it has golden sands and sun loungers as well as beach volleyball, table tennis and more. Plus it is known for being home to some outstanding seafood restaurants.
15. Parc de la Ciutadella
Parc de la Ciutadella is home to the Catalan Parliament, a zoological museum and zoo, a modern art museum and the stunning Cascada waterfall. The waterfall was designed by Josep Fontsere with his apprentice at the time, Gaudi. Take a boat on the park’s lakes or wander through its leafy paths.
16. Arc de Triomf
This deep red brick arch was built in 1888 in the Moorish style that was in fashion at the time. The arc was built to be gates that would welcome visitors to Barcelona for the 1888 World’s Fair.
17. Cathedral de Barcelona
Construction of the Cathedral de Barcelona began in 1298 and took 150 years. The cathedral is home to many religious artworks and gothic paintings. This church in Barcelona is known for its 215 keystone designs. The building has two large bell towers and beautiful large stained glass windows.
18. Joan Miro Foundation
The foundation of Joan Miro is a modern art museum that honours the work of Spanish artist Joan Miro. The creation of the foundation was initiated by the artist himself and the foundation was opened in 1975. Miro left the majority of his work to the foundation.
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In total, the museum owns over 10,000 of Miro’s works – paintings, drawings, sculptures, stage designs, and even carpets. It is the largest collection of Miro’s works in the world.
One of the many highlights of the Miro foundation is the roof. The rooftop terrace has several colourful Miro sculptures as well as fantastic views over Barcelona. The building also has a cafe as well as a library that holds the artist’s personal book collection.
19. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) opened in November of 1995. It now has an international reputation as a leader in the field of contemporary art and houses a considerable collection as well as running regular exhibitions.
The museum was part of the revival of public space in the Raval area. The large white building is as modern a design as the art it exhibits and it became known locally as “the pearl”. The msueum has three main galleries and five smaller galleries. The permanent collection has about 5,000 works and pieces begin from the middle of the 20th century.
Interestingly the area in front of the museum is one of the most iconic spots in the world for skateboarders.
20. Casa Vicens Gaudi
Casa Vicens was built between 1883 and 1885 as a summer house for the Vicens family and was the first of Gaudi’s masterpieces. It was the first important commission that the architect received. Today the ground floor has an area for visitors and the first and second floors have a permanent collection about the building and also host temporary exhibitions. A bookshop is in the basement.
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The building is covered in green and white tiles and very much stands out in the neighborhood of Gracia. The cast iron gate at the entrance features designs of palm tree leaves and carnations.
The garden was designed by Gaudi and was inspired by Mediterranean flora and fauna. The area is also backed by Gaudi’s colourful ceramics making for many great photo opportunities.
21. Tibidabo Amusement Park
This amusement park was built in 1899 by entrepreneur Salvador Andreu and opened in 1905. It is one of the oldest still running amusement parks in the world and Europe’s 3rd oldest in this area. Some of the original rides are even still in use.
Travel up to Tibidabo Amusement Park on the Funicular de Tibidabo. The airplane ride is a classic as is the Ferris wheel of course. This isn’t the most modern of amusement parks but what it lacks in technology it makes up for in charm.
22. Agbar Tower
This 38 story building is located between Avinguda Diagonal and Carrer Badajoz and marks the entrance to the technological district of Barcelona. Now known as Torre Glories, this building was formerly Torre Agbar. The building was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and opened in June 2005.
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Agbar Tower is nearly 145 metres high and has a diameter of 39 metres. This is an office building and also has an auditorium and quite a bit of parking space. The building is shaped like a bullet and is Barcelona’s equivalent of the Gherkin in London. It is only possible to enter the ground floor of the building as a visitor. Agbar Tower looks particularly fantastic at night.
23. Columbus Monument
This 60 metre tall Barcelona landmark is at the lower end of La Rambla. It was built for the 1888 World Exhibition and named after the famous Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus. The Colombus Monument has an observation deck that offers outstanding views of the old harbour and the old town of Barcelona.
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