Tag Archive for: What to see in Spain

The Alhambra – gardens, fortifications and sumptuous palaces – was home to many Arab Sultans who ruled the whole province over the years.  Stretched along the top of the hill known as La Sabika, the Alhambra is the stuff of fairy tales.  From outside, its red fortress towers and walls appear plain, yet imposing, as they rise from cypress and elm woods, with the Sierra Nevada forming a magnificent backdrop.

Alhambra Granada

The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 AD and was then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-11th century by Moorish king Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar who built the current palace and walls.

Later, in 1333, it was converted into a royal palace by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada and in 1527 Charles V, demolished part of the architectural complex to build the palace which bears his name. With each new section that was added the consistent theme of “paradise on earth” was followed. Column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools were used to add to the aesthetic and functional intricacy. In each case, the exterior was left plain and austere.

After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the Alhambra was rediscovered in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers, with restorations commencing.

Today, the Alhambra is one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country’s most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century, and later Christian, building and garden interventions.


The Generalifepalace and gardens were built during the 14th century. Originally the palace was linked to the Alhambra by a covered walkway across the ravine that now divides them.  The garden areabecame a place of recreation and rest for the Muslim kings when they wanted to flee the tedium of official Palace life and is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens.

In 1984, the Alhambra and the Generalife were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In 2007, the Alhambra was a finalist to be included as one the NEW 7 Wonders of the World

Join us on a Private Cultural Tour of Spain like our Majestic Madrid and Authentic Andalucia to fully appreciate the splendor of the Great Granada Alhambra , as well as Madrid, Ronda, Cordoba and Toledo.


Where do you go to get a real feel for for your destination? Somewhere to breathe the life and soul of the place you’re visiting and revel in the sights and delights of it’s everyday life? The Market of course! Every city has one (or more) and Barcelona is no different as it plays host to the largest marketplace in Spain – La Boqueria Market – Probably the Best Market in the World!

The ‘Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria’, most simply referred to as La Boqueria, is Spain’s most important market place offering the freshest and most diverse selection of produce from all over Europe, arriving by sea or from the nearby fertile farmlands. La Boqueria Market is an institutional icon of Barcelona and, not only a market to shop in, it’s a place to eat, drink, be merry, gossip and breathe in the life and soul of Barcelona.

Located in the mid Ramblas of Barcelona, this over 800 year-old icon is today a museum of the brightest, most curious and delectable foods that Europe has to offer.  In any season you can lose yourself in a wonderland of fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, baked goods, nuts and sweets. But be warned: not only is it a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes and scents, it can also lead to taste-bud overload!

La Boqueria Market, in Barcelona, started life in the 13th century as an open-air, table-top,  market which, as La Rambla became an increasingly important pedestrian street, finally found it’s place in the best location to attract passers-by and locals. La Boqueria  Market was legally recognized in 1826 and construction of the official structure commenced in 1840.  A new fish market opened on site in 1911 and in 1914 the metal roof of La Boqueria, which still exists today, was inaugurated.

Today, through the maze of over 300 booths, the rainbow colors of local and exotic products will amaze you and your senses will heighten as you look from left to right and up and down.  An overwhelming feeling will envelope you and a sensation, as near as that of Alice in Wonderland or Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, will not leave you disappointed!

At Gourmand Breaks we frequently include la Boqueria market private guided  tours, for our guests, followed by fun and informative cooking classes with our professional chef as well as tastings at all the most authentic ´foodie´ hot-spots in the city!

Join us on a Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tour that includes Barcelona, like our Highlights of Spain, to see the delights of La Boqueria market.

A Cordovan specialty, Flamenquin, literally translates as “small flamenco dancer” but, this typical dish from Cordoba is, basically, a fried meat, ham and cheese roll.  Flamenquin can be served with salad, fries or even as a tasty Tapa bite to eat.  For this recipe we have chosen a delicious Home-made Tomato Sauce so here’s a traditional Spanish Flamenquin Recipe for you to try at home – Enjoy! 


Ingredients for Traditional Flamenquin Recipe:

4 x150g veal or pork escalopes

8 thin slices of Serrano ham

100g Queso de Grazalema or Gruyère cheese, cut into 8 long sticks about 1cm thick

Olive oil, for shallow-frying

Plain flour, for coating

2 large free-range eggs, beaten

100g white breadcrumbs


And,  for the Home-Made Tomato Sauce Recipe:

100ml olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

400g skinned, chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned

150ml chicken stock

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon chopped oregano or marjoram

2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed and drained

25g pitted black olives, cut lengthways into strips

Sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper


Method for Traditional Flamenquin Recipe:

Starting with the home-made tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium pan.

Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and bay leaves and simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, stirring now and then, until the sauce has reduced and thickened to a good consistency.

Meanwhile, flatten the meat escalopes by placing each one, in turn, between two sheets of cling film and with a rolling pin, gently flatten until uniformly thin.

Out of the cling film, cut each flattened meat escalope in half and season lightly on both sides.

Cover the pieces of meat with a slice of Serrano ham.

Lay the lengths of cheese across one short edge of each escalope and neatly roll them up to finally secure the rolls in place with a wooden cocktail stick.

Remove the bay leaves from the tomato sauce and discard, spoon half of the sauce into a mini food processor and blend until smooth, then stir it back into the pan with the oregano or marjoram, capers, olives and some sugar, salt and pepper to taste and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes. Keep hot.

Meanwhile, pour 2.5 cm of olive oil in a deep saute pan or wide-based saucepan and heat to 170°C (use a cooking thermometer).

Dip the rolls first into the flour, then the beaten eggs and finally the breadcrumbs, ensuring they are well coated.

Add the rolls to the hot oil and fry for 5-7 minutes, turning them over frequently, until they are golden brown and cooked through.

Drain briefly on kitchen paper, carefully remove the cocktail sticks and serve with the tomato sauce.


Join us on a personalized private tour of Spain to taste Flamenquin in it’s home land and to enjoy the sights and delights of Cordoba.  Our Majestic Madrid and Authentic Andalusia Tour, lets you experience Southern Spain with the orange scented patios of Seville, Romantic Ronda, Grand Granada and Curios Cordoba, as well as Spain’s Majestic Capital!


Cruise ships are, today, bigger and better than before, so it’s no surprise that cruise vacations are more popular than ever!  Whether your cruise vacation in Europe is with MSC, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Crystal or Costa Cruises, the chances are you’ll be docking in Spain and/or Portugal!  Make the most of your free time in port with a Luxury Private Offshore Excursion!

Port of Barcelona

Whether you’re meeting your cruise ship in Lisbon and want to spend a few days, pre-cruise, before setting sail, in the Portuguese capital, or you’ve got 10 hours to kill in Cadiz, Malaga or Barcelona and want to stretch your sea legs on land, we’ve got a luxury private shore excursion for you!

Our excellent officially licensed guide and/or chauffeur will meet you off your Mediterranean cruise ship and take you on a private guided tour to discover the best of your European port destination.

Make the most of your limited time in port by visiting historical and cultural sites and immerse yourself in the local life with gourmet food and wine tastings.  Here’s a few ideas for some private luxury offshore excursions in Spain and Portugal:

Barcelona Port, no 4 worldwide, is Europe and the Mediterranean’s leading cruise port  with 2.6 million passengers embarking or disembarking in 2013.

In Barcelona, on your luxury private shore excursion, you can marvel at Gaudi’s inspiring architecture or feast on delicious tapas in a shaded pavement cafe; explore the city’s many churches and cathedrals or hit the shops for a shot of Catalan style. With our excellent officially licensed guide beat the queues to savor the wild and wonderful cathedral, Sagrada Família, Gaudi’s unfinished symphony, discover La Boqueria Market, explore the Gothic Quarter and indulge in Gourmet Tastings e-route before a delicious delicatessen lunch.


Malaga Port, on the Costa del Sol receives around 900,000 passengers who dock in or embark on cruises in Picasso’s city each year.

In Málaga, on your luxury private shore excursion, you can visit nearby Granada to see the world-famous Alhambra Palace, a masterpiece of Moorish art.  Learn about this fascinating city with our officially licensed guide who will take you through Grand Granada on a private tour.


Cadiz Port, gateway to the South of Spain, received a total of just over 370,000 passengers in 2013 on cruise liners and regular shipping lines (to/from the Canary Isles).

In Cadiz, on your luxury private shore excursion,  you can visit Seville,  a beautiful area with a wonderfully joyous atmosphere, where flamenco, bullfighting and fiesta are a way of life. Explore the old city to admire the Cathedral and Giralda Tower, the orange scented Barrio de Sant Cruz and do as the locals and enjoy a fun tapas hopping lunch.


Lisbon Port is the departure port for many European cruise itineraries, with over 250,000 cruise passengers passing through the Portuguese capital each year.

Lap up the Portuguese life in Lisbon, on your luxury private shore excursion,  with a great private tour of the history, sights, food and wine of Portugal’s capital city.  Hear of the terrible earthquake in 1755 that brought the city to its knees and how if Lisbon had a sister it would be San Francisco.  Visit the fantastic St Georges’ castle and the salty sefarers district of Alfama, indulge in Portuguese and try the famous Port Wine.

If you are planning a cruise in Europe around Spain and/or Portugal why not see if you can squeeze the most out of your day in dock  by joining us for your day shore excursion to Lisbon, Barcelona, Seville or Granada .  Our local officially licensed guides are true experts who, love to show off their cities and, promise to take you off the beaten track to see a different side of these enchanting cities.

Alternatively, if you have a few days free pre-cruise, before embarking on your cruise, or after desembarking, after your cruise, make the most of the city with a private short break such as our Lisbon Getaway Tour or our Barcelona Food and Wine Tour.

Girona, Spain, is in bloom this week as Flower Power hits the city! 

The 59th edition of “Temps de Flors” opened last Saturday in Girona, Spain.  All this week thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Girona to view the beautiful array of street ornamentation, vibrant monuments and decorative patios following one theme – Flowers!  We’re not going to give too much away but here’s a glimpse of some of the colorful dislays to be enjoyed at the Girona Flower Festival this year – through to May 18th 2014.


If you’re in Girona this week take the time to stroll through the Flower Festival.  Here’s a map,  via the ‘Ajuntament de Girona’ (the town council), to guide you through the many arrangements that you can see in Girona:  http://www.gironatempsdeflors.net/docs/planol_tempsdeflors_2014.pdf

The month of May brings the Flower Festival to Girona but  anytime of year is great to visit this Little City with a Big Heart.  Join us on a Food, Wine and Cultural Tour like the Ultimate Gourmet Tour which icludes a private guided tour in Girona and much more!


We recently welcomed Michael and Marilyn Mufson to Spain on a fantastic Spanish Food, Wine and Cultural Tour to celebrate their 40 years of marriage!!!! Congratulations to a fantastic couple!

Mufsons at the Mezquita

After their intense, yet fulfilling, 14 day vacation, Marilyn and Michael took the time to write to say thank you, and here are their words to us:

“This is a thank you note, and love letter, to Gourmand Breaks for designing the 40th anniversary trip of our dreams. Our expectations were very high, but Madrid and Andalusia, and your caring attention to detail, exceeded them! It was as close to a perfect vacation as we’ve ever had together, and we’re talking 40 years!

First of all, we loved our guides – Olga, in Madrid: In addition to expertly guiding us through the magnificent El Prado Museum, she introduced us to sizzling prawns in garlic at Cervantes, which became our favorite tapas place! Paloma, in Seville, guided us through Bario Santa Cruz, and the Reales Alcazares. We easily fell in love with Seville. In Cordoba, we were introduced to Maria Jose, whose passion for her city and its history was infectious. We spent 5 1/2 hours with Maria. Obviously, we hated to say goodbye.

While in Seville, Gourmand Breaks arranged for us to see a thrilling Flamenco show. The dancers, musicians and singers were truly artists. Not to be missed!

We loved  all the hotels Gourmand Breaks selected for us. My favorite was in Granada. The room was stunning, but best of all was the lovely, private patio. Our first night, someone rang our bell at about 11. Enter a lovely young woman carrying a tray of delicious fruit. As if we weren’t already charmed out of our minds! Downstairs, next to the restaurant, was a beautiful courtyard where we enjoyed relaxing and people watching. We ordered simple appetizers but out of the blue were treated to a five course feast straight from heaven. The best paella we’ve ever tasted, served with such panache! The wait staff were heavenly, too.

And then there was the patio/balcony in Ronda with a magnificent view of the white houses on the cliffs on the other side of the gorge. Breathtaking! And in Seville, the courtyard outside of our room where we spent enchanted evenings lounging on couches, dining on tapas and inhaling the scent of orange trees.

 In addition to our superb hotel meal in Granada, our favorite restaurants (suggested by Gourmand), were Viridiana and Alabaster, both in Madrid, both unforgettable.

 As a special treat, Gourmand arranged for us to see an opera, Pagliacci, at Teatro Zarzuela, upon our return to Madrid. Not only were the lead performers exceptional, the staging was outstanding, with circus performers such as jugglers and a man on stilts, all in colorful costumes. Fortunately, a small screen at the top of the proscenium provided English translations!

 It was great fun to be in an audience of local people, many of whom had brought their children along. I’ve never been an opera buff, but this trip may have converted me!

We will be talking about our Spain trip for years to come, and plan to do it again with our grown children and their families! We eagerly look forward to another brilliant vacation with Gourmand Breaks.”

Michael and Marilyn, thank you so much for your kind words!  It was our pleasure to help organize your special vacation and we look forward to welcoming you again, maybe for anniversary number 41?

Mufsons Sorrolla

Marilyn Mufson was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Las Vegas, where Bugsy Siegel bounced her on his knee and gave her silver dollars for her piggy bank.  A writer and actress, Marilyn has performed  serious theater and she wrote and directed the show TIME PLAY. She has written extensively for print and theater and Neon Dreams, her debut full novel, was first published in 2010.

Michael and Marilyn started their 14 day private tour in Madrid then (by high speed train or chauffeur)  traveled to  Seville, Ronda, Granada and Cordoba, before returning to Madrid with a day out in Toledo.  Follow their footsteps to experience the culture, cuisine, heritage and monuments of all these fascinating places on a private tour such as our Majestic Madrid and Authentic Andalucia Private Tour.


The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, also called the Museo Reina Sofía, (Queen Sofía Museum),  is the national museum for 20th century art in Spain.  The museum was officially inaugurated in Madrid in 1992 and is named after the Queen of Spain. The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art with highlights including Spain’s two greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

Probably the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso’s 1937, oil on canvas painting, Guernica.  The grey, black and white, mural-size, canvas was created after the bombing of the village of the same name,  in the Basque Country in Northern Spain, during the Spanish Civil War.

Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts, particularly on innocent civilians. Upon completion, Guernica was first exhibited in France and then entrusted to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

The painting traveled extensively in the United States and was then shown in Brazil and major European cities, before returning to MoMA for Picasso’s 75th birthday exhibition.  Concern grew over the state of the painting which resulted in a decision to keep it in one place, at the MoMA until in 1981 it was finally surrendered to Spain.

Guernica was first displayed in Spain in an annex of the Prado Museum that housed early 19th-century paintings and had a large enough wall for the huge canvas.  Although mention is frequently made of the painting’s “return” to Spain, this is not entirely true as it was painted in Paris.  It was moved to its current permanent location in the Museo Reina Sofía in 1992, but not without controversy as Picasso’s will stated that the painting should be displayed at the Prado.

The Basque Country also stakes its claim to the painting as Basque nationalists support the idea that Guernica should be brought to the Basque country, even more so after the building of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. Officials at the Reina Sofía claim that the canvas is now thought to be too fragile to move.  While the Guggenheim does not see a permanent transfer of the painting possible, the Basque government continues to support the possibility of a temporary exhibition in Bilbao.

The Reina Sofia collection also includes works by artists such as: Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies, Pablo Gargallo, Pablo Serrano and Lucio Muñoz. There are few international artists in the collection but there are works by Robert Delaunay, Yves Tanguy, Man Ray, Damien Hirst, Julian Schnabel, Wolf Vostell, Clyfford Still and Georges Braque among others, as well as a large work by Francis Bacon.

The Reina Sofia Museum stands at the southern end of Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art which also includes the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Join us on a fantastic Food, Wine and Cultural Tour of Spain to appreciate Great Art, Gourmet Food and Fine Wines. Our Highlights of Spain Luxury Tour takes in Madrid, giving you a chance to visit the Reina Sofia Museum as well as the Prado and the  Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Spain is the proud home of some great Art Museums, from the Spectacular Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to the Famous El Prado Museum in Madrid.  Here’s a quick look at just some of the exclusive temporary exhibitions on at the moment and permanent collections around Spain:


Guggenheim – Bilbao

Yoko Ono. Half-A-Wind Show — A Retrospective (through to September 1st)
Yoko Ono Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

Featuring nearly 200 works divided into several thematic sections, including installations, objects, films, drawings, photographs, text, audio, and documentation of past performances, presents a comprehensive overview of the manifold output of this pioneering conceptual and performance artist. Ideas, rather than materials, are the main component of her work. Many of those ideas are poetic, absurd, and utopian, while others are specific and practical. Some are transformed into objects, while others remain immaterial. Her work frequently reflects the artist’s sense of humor as well as her pronounced socio-critical attitude.






El Prado – Madrid

Evil vanishes. Egusquiza and Wagner´s Parsifal (through to September 7th)

The Museum takes part in the events to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner with an exhibition of works created by the painter Rogelio de Egusquiza inspired by Wagner’s last opera, Parsifal.

Egusquiza was an established artist when he first met Wagner in 1879, whom he already admired and followed. He was the only Spanish artist to establish a first-hand relationship with the composer, albeit of a sporadic, respectful nature. This acquaintanceship completely transformed Egusquiza’s artistic concerns and from then on he focused on the iconography of the composer’s works. Over the years and in an almost obsessive manner Egusquiza produced drawings, prints and paintings of the characters from Parsifal, Wagner’s last opera, which the composer conceived as an allegory of human salvation.


Picasso Museum – Barcelona

Post – Picasso. Contemporary Reactions (through to June 29th)
Post-Picasso Picasso Museum Barcelona

This temporary exhibition examines the responses of contemporary artists to the life and work of Pablo Picasso during the forty years since his death, in which his significance for contemporary artists has been controversial. It addresses the question of whether Picasso continues to be important for contemporary art and considers the variety of ways in which artists are engaging his art.



Salvador Dali Theatre-Museum – Figueres

The Collection.

Dali Theatre-Museum FigueresThe Gala-Dalí Foundation manages various collections of works by Salvador Dalí, a unique compilation in terms of quantity, scope and depth. The entire collection is composed of thousands of objects dating from all the different periods of Dalí’s life, and more than 4,000 works of art reflecting an enormous diversity of techniques, materials and media: paintings, drawings, sculptures, engravings, installations, jewelry, holograms, photography and so on. A large proportion of the work is permanently on show at the Dalí Theatre-Museum, whilst another part appears in temporary exhibitions in the museum itself and at other World wide locations.


Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla – Seville

The Prado doesn’t own all the great Spanish art in the country. Located in the early-17th-century convent of La Merced, this museum is famous for its works by such Spanish masters as Valdés Leal, Zurbarán, and Murillo. Spain’s Golden Age is best exemplified by Murillo’s monumental Immaculate Conception and Zurbarán’s Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas.


Thyssen-Bornemisza – Madrid

Madrid’s acquisition of this treasure trove of art in the 1980s was one of the greatest coups in European art history. Amassed by a central European collector beginning around 1920, and formerly displayed in Lugano, Switzerland, its 700 canvases, with works by artists ranging from El Greco to Picasso, are arranged in chronological order. This fantastic collection rivals the legendary holdings of the Queen of England herself.

Thyssen Bornemisza Museum Madrid


Museum of Santa Cruz – Toledo

The Santa Cruz used to be a hospital and it was built in 1494. The construction did not take too much time and the result was quite ordinary. The only attractive detail was the cross formed by the four buildings together with the hospital. Now accommodating the biggest collection of paintings by El Greco in the World, here you will also find a very good collection of Spanish painters, with the paintings by El Greco being displayed in a separate hall just for them.


Pablo Picasso Museum – Malaga

This museum became Picasso’s dream come true as he always wanted to see his paintings exhibited in his native city. 233 works by the great master include paintings, sculptures and ceramics. Over 200 pieces were transferred to the museum by Picasso’s relatives, his daughter-in-law Christina and grandson Bernard, from their private collections. The combined price of all works in the Picasso museum reach up to several-hundred-million euros. The genuine pearl of the museum is the portrait of the artist’s first spouse, Olga Khokhlova, who was the Russian ballet dancer.

Pablo Picasso Museum Malaga
Join us on a fantastic Food, Wine and Cultural Tour of Spain to appreciate great Art, Gourmet Food and Fine Wines. Our Highlights of Spain Luxury Tour takes in Barcelona, Seville, Toledo and Madrid, but we can add The Basque Country if you don’t want to miss the Guggenheim Museum as all our tours are exclusively private.

The incredible Sagrada Família Church, if you haven’t heard of it, is a giant Basilica in the center of Barcelona, Spain  It is a work on a grand scale and is not expected to be completed for another 30 to 80 years!  Barcelona’s skyline is accustomed to the somewhat weird mix of old spires and modern cranes that envelope the Sagrada Família.  It will seem strange if one day the invasive, yet accepted, cranes disappear from Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished Barcelona symphony!

Construction on La Sagrada Família,  Barcelona, began in 1882 and at the end of 1883 Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to carry on the works, which subsequently occupied his whole life right up until his death in 1926.   He played an active role in directing the construction of the Sagrada Família and often requested that work be modified and adjusted until it was exactly the way he wanted it, according to the vision he had in his mind.

In 1892 Gaudí began work on the foundations of the East facing Nativity Façade of La Sagrada Família.  After 1914, Gaudí submitted his work exclusively to the Sagrada Família and on November 30th, 1925, the construction of the first bell tower of the Nativity Façade, dedicated to St Barnaby, was finished, rising a 100 meters high.   This is the only one that Gaudí lived to see built.  Antoni Gaudí died on the 10th of June 1926 as a result of a tragic accident in Barcelona, that had occurred three days earlier, when he was run over by a tram.  On the 12th of June Antoni Gaudí was buried in the Carmen Chapel of the crypt of La Sagrada Família, where his remains still lie today.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

 The Nativity Façade of La Sagrada Família celebrates the birth of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.  It is also referred to as the Façade of Life, Joy or Christmas and is elaborately adorned with references to the joy of life, such as flowers and animals, on and around its three entrances:

–  The Portal of Faith is devoted to the theological virtue of faith and to Mary.

– The Portal of Hope is devoted to the theological virtue of hope and to Joseph.

– The Portal of Charity is devoted to the theological virtue of Christian charity or love and to Jesus.

In 1911 Gaudí planned the West facing Passion Façade and in 1923 the definitive solution to the naves and roofs.  The works advanced slowly, though, and Gaudí was recorded as saying:

“There is no reason to regret that I cannot finish the church. I will grow old but others will come after me. What must always be conserved is the spirit of the work, but its life has to depend on the generations it is handed down to and with whom it lives and is incarnated”.

The Passion Façade of La Sagrada Família, representing the Passion of Jesus, depicts the pain, sacrifice and death suffered by Jesus, and is expressed in highly dramatic and emotionally intense groups of sculptures.  As the façade faces west it receives the last rays of the day’s sun hence heightening the symbolic effect of the darkness and shadows that haunted Antoni Gaudí.  Like the other façades, it has three entrances, dedicated to charity, hope and faith, and four bell towers.  This façades’ towers are dedicated (from left to right) to the apostles St James the Less, St Bartholomew, St Thomas and St Philip.  The sculptures on the Passion Façade stand out as they contrast against their background being ornament free and composed of simple forms.  In this way Gaudí wanted to symbolize the desolation, the pain and the death of Jesus Christ with a dramatic doorway illustrating the sacrifice made by Jesus for mankind.

Passion Façade, Sagrada Familia

The South facing Glory Façade is still under construction and, when finished, will be the main entrance to the church.  Gaudí included the construction of a great exterior flight of steps, in the project, to provide a solemn access to the Sagrada Família.

Since Gaudí’s death, different architects have continued the work of the Sagrada Família based on Gaudí’s original ideas.  However today, because of the nature of the existing designs, his work is partly open to interpretation and leads to much controversy – be it the new construction materials which, some feel, Gaudí himself would not have used, or the present day architects’ interpretation of the original designs, unacceptable for many Gaudí fans.  Regardless of all the controversy surrounding the Sagrada Família it is a truly magnificent building and an absolute must-see when you visit Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia

With all that is featured on the outside, of this magnificent masterpiece, it is hardly surprising that the inside is as spectacular as you would imagine.  But, we’re not going to give too much away, you need to experience this wonder for yourself while in Barcelona, but the interior looks like a forest of beautifully designed trees.  The ornate trunks, branches and clusters of leaves are all visible in this forest of columns where, as the light seeps through the windows, a sensation of woodland and vegetation appears within the Sagrada Família.

Antoni Gaudí is Barcelona’s most internationally renowned and emblematic architect and throughout his work, you will see much of his architectural inspiration came from his experiences in nature.   His work has become one of the main cultural attractions of Barcelona, and is a legacy that has been declared UNESCO World Heritage.  La Sagrada Família, over the years, has become one of the most universal signs of identity of Barcelona, and indeed Spain. It is visited by millions of people every year and many more study its architectural and religious content.

Special mention should also be made to other famous works of Gaudí in Barcelona, like his famous Casa Batlló and La Pedrera.  Gaudí’s famous La Pedrera was built between 1906 and 1910 for the Milà family and is one of the main Gaudí residential buildings in Barcelona. It is one of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture and is more a sculpture than a building.  And not forgetting, one of the most beautiful icons of the city of Barcelona, ​​Park Güell,  a work by Antoni Gaudi carried our between 1900 and 1914, with wonderful views of the city where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll surrounded by nature and modernist works.











Many of our Food, Wine and Cultural Tours include a visit to Antoni Gaudí’s amazing unfinished La Sagrada Família in Barcelona (as well as to other masterpieces).  This means that, you not only get to beat the queues into the Church but, one of our Officially Licensed Bi-Lingual Guides will give you your own private tour and show you so much more.


As in every city the place to be, and to be seen in is ever changing. New areas are revamped, businesses are created and tourists flock to a place they would never have dreamed of going on a previous visit.  Inevitably, this revamping, remodeling and breathing of new life has occurred  in Barcelona.

In the last few years the Born area of Barcelona has been transforming and is now THE new area to be and be seen in in the dazzling city.  To the east of the ever popular Ramblas and on the other side of Via Laietana lies this maze of old narrow streets interspersed with small squares and merchant palaces from the 15th Century.  Although getting lost in this labyrinth is part of the charm, this fashionable district of Barcelona invites you into its heart with  wine and tapas bars, candlelit restaurants and designer boutiques.

This born again zone of Barcelona neighbors the Gothic Quarter and together they make up the old side of Barcelona. The Port is also neighbor to the area, and the Ciutadella Park ,to the East, provides the ideal place to stop and relax under the shade of a tree.

At the center of this now fashionable zone is the Maria del Mar church which dominates a beautiful square with an abundance of cafés.  A masterpiece  illustrating  14th century Catalan Gothic style, it was built on the ancient chapel of Santa Maria de las Arenas of 998AD.  The Mediterranean was much more inland than today, so being close to the sea it was constructed thanks to donations from the sea farers.

Behind the Santa Maria square is the main street, Paseo del Born, which is where the witches were executed and burned in Medieval times.  This passage today, invites you to dine at various restaurants with a variety of cuisine to choose from, or maybe just take time out to sip a refreshing glass of Cava in one of the many bars.

The Picasso museum is most surely THE museum to visit in Barcelona, for the artist and,  for the building which is made of five palaces joined together to make the museum.  An enjoyable visit here is a must to understand the formation of Pablo Ruiz Picasso.  The permanent collection of the genius’s work, here at the museum,  comprises of more than 3.500 works of art.

The former Born Market, a magnificent wrought iron structure built in the 1870’s, was once the city’s main wholesale market, until it closed in 1971.  Thanks to the market, the area of Born was once the city’s trading area.  After years of being forgotten, in 2001 excavation work uncovered some amazing remains.  Much debate ensued on the fate of  the market, but in September 2013 after extensive work was completed, the building opened again as the Born Cultural Center,  a civic center and covered plaza home to a permanent exhibition of thousands of artifacts discovered here.

Another market, alive and kicking today, is the Santa Caterina Market. A fantastic place to stop for a quick bite at a good price or just to peruse the array of rainbow colors that the stallholders sell. With market stalls spread over 3 floors it is a valid rival to the famous La Boqueria. But, Santa Caterina market is not only colorful on the inside, view it from outside and you will see the magnificent roof is alive with over 300,000 colored ceramic tiles.

Many of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural tours include stays in Barcelona to discover this fantastic city via private tours and/or giving you free time for your own sightseeing.

Join us on the Highlights of Spain Tour to combine some fantastic gourmet, wine and cultural experiences while staying in Barcelona, Girona, Penedes, Seville and Madrid.