As I mentioned earlier, my immense, endless and obsessive love for Spain did not allow me to pass on the greatest airfare deal I found — to Barcelona, city I have not been to yet.
Yet, to my initial surprise, Barcelona is not part of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (the same goes for New York, Athens or for example Madrid, just to name a few). The city checks all the boxes — Barcelona has a UNESCO site within the city limits (more than one actually) and it could without bigger issues prove that there is an outstanding universal value to it.
But the thing is, cities such as Barcelona are so prominent, they don’t need to go through the process of being nominated, which Melissa from Global Philadelphia compared to a dissertation.
That makes Barcelona no less beautiful or worth visiting though. Heritage-wise, Barcelona is such a rich city, full of history, UNESCO sites and cultural significance.
Without having to think about it, my first destination has become La Sagrada Familia. As impressive as all the pictures of it, the basilica towers over the city in all its magnificence. I could not help but stare at the candy-like tops, thinking how the structure looks like a few different architects started to build their own ideas and randomly met in the middle. Yet it somehow works.
From there, I decided to climb up to the Park Güell, another of the UNESCO sites.
While I knew about Barcelona’s octagon-like city structure, the realization hit me only once walking through the city, having to obey to the detours taken each time I had to cross from one square to another. Only then I started to wonder how a historical city has a structure one expects more from modern cities such as New York that was built that way on purpose.
Barcelona did not always look like it does today. The Eixample, characterized by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues, and octagon-like blocks, was introduced by Ildefons Cerdà in early 19th century. After studying other cities, Cerdà proposed to build the Eixample in order to facilitate transport and navigation. According to Cerdà, the octagon-like detail would provide greater air circulation in the streets, greater possibility for trams to turn corners and higher visibility around corners. The blocks are oriented in a NW-SE direction to ensure each household receives enough natural light each day.
And so I made my way to the park, right before sunset, enjoying the view of the city, the endless blue sea in the background. I climbed above the park, off the path, hoping to not break any one of my bones, reminding myself I don’t have travel insurance.
I did not have time to discover all of the park as the sun went down as if in a rush, leaving my surroundings nearly pitch dark, only the city’s light disturbing the darkness.
I climbed back down the hill, back into the squares of the city, taking turns left and right as I wished, stopping to sit in parks.
A perfect day in Barcelona.