Anybody who has spent a prolonged period of time abroad knows that travel, is in fact, more of an art than it is a science. Though immediately one may think it formulaic (with all of the planning, budgeting, research, etc), any number of things can happen on the road, from chance meetings to missteps. As travelers and artists, these are things that we cannot control. Instead, we may only move through these things with grace and fluidity, like a painter moving from one stroke to the next.
In the context of travel, there is no form of transportation that speaks to this idea as much as the personal car does. It allows us complete autonomy over our decisions and destinations, and is the vessel through which we can experience the world.
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso
And what better place to explore in this way than Barcelona, the city of art?
Driving in the City of Art
Barcelona is a city filled to the brim with history and culture, and is one of the world’s major global cities, boasting countless stunning examples of architecture, art, and overall beauty. Originally founded as a Roman city around two-thousand years ago, Barcelona has withstood the test of time and has aged wonderfully.
To begin our exploration into this extensive and illustrious city, we’ll rent a car in Barcelona. This will allow us to explore the city at our own pace and really immerse ourselves in the everyday flow of the city and it’s denizens.
Tips For Driving in Barcelona
Barcelona is a bustling and incredibly active city, with lots of pedestrians and cyclists milling about. When driving in the city it is always important to keep an eye on them and pay plenty of attention as not to put anyone else in harm.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Spanish drivers are generally not particularly helpful or friendly when it comes to making way for other vehicles. Don’t hit the roads expecting other drivers to make way for you. Instead, always be prepared to come to full stops when approaching intersections and roundabouts.
And lastly (for our American drivers), Spanish roads are to be driven on the right hand side.
Attractions in the City
As stated previously, the city is filled with incredible, cultural attractions.
The Gaudí Buildings
No trip to Barcelona would be complete without visiting Spain’s most famous architect’s many creations. Of the top ten most visited sites in Barcelona, 4 are Gaudí buildings. With sites including (but not limited to) the Park Güell, Casa Battló, and the Casa Milà, Gaudí’s works are considered by many to be masterful representations and interpretations of the Gothic architecture from days long past.
No list of Gaudí’s would be complete, however, with mention of his crowning achievement: The Sagrada Familia, an unfinished Roman Catholic cathedral that has been under construction since 1882. Having survived the death of its lead architect in 1926, and later on the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the basilica is a testament to the sheer strength and enormity of Gaudi’s vision.
The Picasso Museum
Housed in a large, Gothic style complex, the Picasso Museum boasts the largest, permanent collection of works and items from the influential Spanish painter. Opened to the public in 1963, the Picasso Museum is the only museum dedicated to him that was founded during his lifetime. In fact, many of the items on display were donated by Picasso himself, while others were donated by collectors and friends. There are even pieces donated by the surrealist painter Salvador Dali.
Though originally the museum was planned to be founded in Picasso’s birth town, Málaga, he insisted that it be founded in Barcelona instead because of his deep love and connection to the city.
Joan Miró Foundation
Though not as well known internationally as his other contemporaries, Joan Miró was incredibly influential within surrealist circles and is one of Spain’s most prominent painters. He believed in a childlike and subconscious approach to art and was opposed to the commodification and institutionalization of artistic expression, and it was with these values in mind that the Joan Miró Foundation was created.
Established in 1975, the foundation was opened with the intent to support young artists in their explorations of form, style and identity, as well as changing the way that people viewed their own cultural heritage. Though many of Miró’s personal works are on display, the foundation is also dedicated to giving young, experimental artists a space to have their art showcased and celebrated, beautifully tying in the new with the old.
Tell us about your trip, or your relationship to art and history in the comments. Safe travels!