WHERE IN THE WORLD: BARCELONA, SPAIN

Travel notes from the tour zone with George Fontana

Barcelona is Spain’s second-largest city, but it is undesputedly the first city of Catalunya (Catalonia). A major port, a center of culture, commerce and education, Barcelona enjoys a Mediterranean climate and setting. The main shop-lined pedestrian thoroughfare La Rambla, begins at the Columbus Monument pointing to the new land (alas to the south rather than to the west). One of the statues along La Rambla is of special interest. The majority of statues represent figures in heroic or tragic poses, but the monument to Catalan playwright Frederich Soler presents the poet in a relaxed seated position, legs crossed, enjoying the Mediterranean sun. Just off La Rambla is the busy market La Boqueria and the picturesque Gothic Quarter with its labyrinth of narrow passages. The city’s allure is in its details. Antoni Gaudi, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro were inspired by Barcelona’s beauty. Gaudi’s phantasmagorical cathedral La Sagrada Familia (still under construction) and Park Guell are two of his best known creations. The works of Miro and Picasso are celebrated in outstanding museums bearing their names. Barcelona rates high as a world class city.