17 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Barcelona
Like any European city, Barcelona has its fair share of mysteries. But some of these cool facts might really surprise you. From secrets below the streets, quirky Catalan traditions to Atoni Gaudi’s partner in crime, we've made some cool discoveries about the city. These facts will not only fascinate you but will also make your trip to Barcelona unforgettable with tips, recommendations and things to look out for. Check out 17 Things You Probably Didn't Know about the Spanish metropolis...
Need a hostel in Barcelona? Check out St Christopher's Inns, right in the city centre
1 Sagrada Familia will take longer to build than the Egyptian Pyramids
When La Sagrada Familia is completed, it will have taken longer to build than the Egyptian Pyramids. Pretty crazy to hear that construction is still not complete, it’s taken over a century. It’s expected to be completed between 2026–2028.
2 Gaudi’s wasn’t the only brain behind a lot of his most famous designs
Think Gaudi was the sole designer of Park Guell, the Casa Batllo and the Casa Mila? Well so do most other people, and it’s totally not true! Josep Maria Jujol was Gaudi’s design partner, and sadly for him he barely ever receives credit for the effort he put into any of these world-famous designs!
3 The Eiffel Tower was actually designed for Barcelona
Weird seeing the Eiffel Tower in a Barcelona article but believe it or not, the now most famous Parisian landmark was originally intended to be built in Barcelona. However plans for this were rejected by the city as everyone thought it would look hideous. Gustave Eiffel instead had to pitch his idea somewhere else, and eventually decided to try Paris. It might now be Paris’ biggest tourist attraction, however the local people hated it to begin with - some referred to it as a ‘metal asparagus’! Quel horreur!
4 Sometimes you’ve gotta look up for the best photo opportunities…
Head into a maze in search of Placa Milans for one of Barcelona’s best Instagram opportunities. It’s not easy to find, but walk down Avinyo, past the Delicatessen Venus, the AM Boutique, the Barcelona Seed Centre, Le Fortune and Wasabi and eventually you’ll be able to look up and see the buildings form a satisfyingly smooth curve that’s picture-perfect.
5 Do you know why 13 white geese roam the courtyard of Barcelona Cathedral?
Barcelona Cathedral is home to 13 white geese who roam the enclosed garden with the fountain and pond. The number 13 represents the age that the co-patron saint of Barcelona, Saint Eulalia was martyred, while the white geese honour her memory.
6 There’s a Catalan tradition of building human towers...
‘Castells’ is the traditional day of human tower building in Barcelona, and it’s been a thing since the 18th century. Sounds whacky, but the people of Barca take this day very seriously, aiming to build the tower as high as they possibly can which can be up to 10 stories high! If you happen to be in the city and manage to get a glimpse of this happening, you’ll see just how impressive it actually is!
7 The Cactus Garden is insanely cool
It’s called Jardin de Cactus de Mossèn Costa i Llobera and for some reason, not many tourists have heard of it, making it a real hidden gem. Plus it’ll seriously spice up your Insta feed.
8 Barceloneta Beaches are Artificial
Before the Olympic Games, Barcelona’s seaside was completely built over by industries and factories; meaning that there were no beaches. In the run up to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, Barcelona went under mass redevelopment and the beaches were rebuilt to convert the concrete waterfront to a sandy paradise.
9 And did you know there are 10 different beaches in Barcelona?
Don’t just follow the crowd to Barceloneta (although it’s a beautiful beach, it does get super crowded), there are plenty more beaches in the city to enjoy on a hot day!
10 You’re wrong if you think La Ramblas is just one street
Las Ramblas, the famous street in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter actually comprises of 5 different avenues. But a lot of tourists think it’s just one stretch. The different avenues include Canaletes, Estudis, Sant Josep, Caputxins and Santa Monica, and lastly La Boqueria (home to the biggest food market in Barcelona).
11 The city is home to 12 haunted underground metro stations
There are secrets hidden below Barcelona’s streets. There are 12 abandoned metro stations deep underground - and apparently they are haunted with claims that people have seen shadows of humans or ghosts. You can even take ghost tours of these hidden, haunted metro stations.
12 Barcelona has 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
And seven of them were created by Gaudi. The 9 World Heritage sites are Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, La Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló and Crypt of the Church at Colonia Guell.
13 Take a cable car for the best views
Montjuic is the Olympic site of Barcelona where the 1992 Olympic Games were held. With an elevation of 173m, the park is higher than any building in the city so you need to take the cable car to get there. At the top, you can get the best panoramic views of Barcelona, a full 360 degree view.
14 Look out for bad drivers
Barcelona’s drivers are considered the worst drivers in the world. An accident occurs every 19 seconds on the streets of Barcelona. Crikey! We’ll stick to walking...
15 Learn the secrets of FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona has been around for over 100 years and for locals, the football club is a massive part of their identity. Secrets that contributed to FC Barcelona’s history can be found dotted all around the city, and surprisingly closer towards Barcelona’s city centre rather than near the Camp Nou stadium. With the Secrets of Barcelona tour, you can discover the clubs secrets on a 2-hour guided tour through Barcelona’s city center (even the exact building where the club was founded).
16 Some of the city is built in blocks
Much like New York, a particular part of Barcelona has been laid out in square blocks. In the district Eixample, the construction follows a strict grid pattern with long straight streets, crossed by wide avenues. The Sagrada Familia lies in the Eixample district!
17 There's a hole in a wall that used to be a baby drop-off
The small wooden inlet in the heart of El Raval was once used as a place where people could anonymously drop off their baby to the orphanage behind it. Between 1853 and 1931, the orphanage saw hundreds of babies come through the turning circular door, left by parents who could not or did not want to take care of them.
Article by Shereen Sagoo and Darcy King
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