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    Barcelona, spirited and sporty

    The city of Barcelona is mainly known for two things: a world-famous football team and unusual art and architecture. It's the capital of the Catalonia region in Spain, drenched in sunshine all year round. Barcelona's relaxed pace of life and the Montserrat mountain in the distance give it a sense of rural charm. The city is also a booming economic hub in Europe, and it hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics.

                                                                                                                                                                               

    Architecture

    Wandering around the maze-like streets of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter could easily take a day. It contains the La Merce Basilica and the remains of the Temple of Augustus. The old town is near the centre of the city, as is the breathtaking Casa Battlló designed by famous Spanish architect Antonio Gaudí. When it gets dark, wait for the colourful light show at the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc or see more at the Poble Espanyol architecture museum which stays open until midnight.


    Getting around

    Flights to Barcelona come into Barcelona-El Prat Airport, about eight miles from the city centre. The city's public transport system is widespread and easy to use. Hop on the Barcelona metro for air conditioning in the hot summer months - lines head out to the airport and all of the city's main sights. To get more of a view of the city, take a ride on an open-top bus.


    Things to do in Barcelona

    No holiday in Barcelona is complete without a visit to the Museu Picasso. The museum is dedicated to the life and work of Pablo Picasso, Spain's most iconic painter. The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya has more paintings and sculptures on display.

    A popular point of interest is La Sagrada Familia, a towering Roman Catholic church also designed and partially built by Gaudí. The many tall spiralling towers make it easy to recognise. The church dates back to the early-20th century and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Tapas

    The people of Barcelona place huge importance in their food, and you're likely to find them planning tomorrow's breakfast while still partway through lunch. Cosy and traditional tapas bars are dotted throughout the city, serving small dishes and snacks such as croquettes, meatballs, squid, and bombas (balls of mashed potato with a meat filling).

    Wash your meal down with a Spanish beer, such as Estrella, or sample some locally-made Catalan wine. Kids can have a glass of orxata (or horchata), a sweet drink made from almonds and sesame seeds.