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Paris, Rome, Venice, and Barcelona are among the top-visited destinations in Europe. Beyond the Old World, New York City, Toronto and Whistler await shopping, dining and skiing enthusiasts, as well as businessmen and students. Quality accommodation is always in demand, and nowadays travellers have the freedom to choose not only hotels, but also apartment rentals.
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Museums of Barcelona

Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya (MNAC)

Museu National D'Art de Catalunya is the greatest classic art museum in Barcelona. If you have time for one museum tour, head there. If you do not know much about art, but always wanted to, this is a place to start. Even though MNAC is decidedly Catalan – with works of various Catalan artists and Catalan art pieces dominating the scene and their Spanish and international counterparts making only an occasional appearance, - it is still a great place to start admiring European art tradition. If you always wanted to understand the intricacies of subtle genre changes, wanted to see works of different art periods, MNAC will welcome you with open arms.

The collection is arranged in such a way that it allows visitors to fully appreciate the evolution of art history: from Romanesque art to Gothic art, from Renaissance to Baroque and all the way to Modern art. With a collection that extensive, the understanding of how art progresses comes rather naturally, and you would be hard-pressed not to enjoy the feeling of being a connoisseur. The Modernist section will be of particular interest to admirers of the Catalan version of Art Nouveau: some works of the giants of the Modern are exhibited there, including furniture pieces by Antoni Gaudí, sculptures by Josep Llimona, and paintings by Ramon Casas.

MNAC may seem overwhelming at first, thanks in part to its exuberant exterior. The museum is housed in Palau Nacional, the National Palace, whose grandeur dominates the scene around Plaça Espanya and the north-eastern side of the Montjuïc hill. However, four main collections (Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, Modern art) plus the Drawings room and the Numismatics collection can all be explored in one half-day excursion that would also leave time for pondering some of the well-known works (affectionately called “masterpieces” here) in the collection. The great atrium of the palace is called the Oval Hall, or the Oval room, and it is currently undergoing renovations, but is well worth a look. There are no exhibitions in this part of the palace, except for the entrance into the captivating Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, which features contributions from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

MNAC is rather easy to navigate. Free brochures in various languages, including English, are distributed in the entrance hall and at the information stations on the second floor. The brochure is a fold-out floor plan of the museum that also indicates the locations of the masterpieces housed in MNAC. You must show your ticket every time you enter a given collection, but admission to all parts of MNAC is incorporated into the ticket price. It also means that you may wander around the entrance hall and venture into the atrium free of charge. Photography with no flash is permitted everywhere.

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Museu Nacional dArt de Catalunya (MNAC) The entrance hall of Museu Nacional dArt de Catalunya (MNAC)
The Oval Hall, or the Oval Room, of Museu Nacional dArt de Catalunya (MNAC) Painted dome ceiling in one of the halls of Museu Nacional dArt de Catalunya (MNAC)
Interiors of Museu Nacional dArt de Catalunya (MNAC) Ramon Casas "Ramon Casas y Pere Romeu en un automóvil" (1901)
Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA)

MACBA, or the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, is a contemporary art museum located in the heart of Ciutat Vella in Barcelona, in the upper part of the Raval neghbourhood. MACBA opened in 1995. It owns a vast collection of modern art pieces and installations, only a portion of which is on display at any given time. The exhibitions in MACBA are rotated on a regular basis.

MACBA attracts not only art lovers, but also skateboarders who take advantage of the stairs and the ramps of the MACBA main entrance. The building that houses the museum was designed by Richard Meier.

The museum is open Mondays to Fridays from 11:00 to 19:30, Saturdays from 10:00 to 21:00, Sundays and public holidays from 10:00 to 15:00. Closed on Tuesdays, Christmas Day, New Year's Day.

Article address:
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Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA)
Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA)
Joan Miró Foundation

Fundació Joan Miró is one of the most interesting art galleries in Barcelona, found on the Montjuïc hill a short walk away from MNAC and a slightly longer one from Plaça Espanya. Joan Miró is one of the most famous Catalan artists, whose works can be found in the most prestigious museums in the world, including the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Prado Museum in Madrid, the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia and many others. The Joan Miró Foundation, however, offers the most complete and representative look at Miró's work, highlighting his artistic career and development.

Joan Miró applied his artistry to painting, drawing, sculpture and even ceramic work and textiles, and examples of each can be seen in the Foundation. The museum is remarkable not only on the inside, but on the outside as well: the memorable whitewashed building that houses the Foundation was designed by Josep Lluís Sert and is surrounded by a beautiful garden with larger sculptures by Miró on view.

Fundació Joan Miró is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10:00 to 19:00 and Sundays and public holidays from 10:00 to 14:30. Extended hours on Thursdays and during high season (July to September). Closed on Mondays, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, New Year's Day.

Article address:
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Joan Miro Foundation Joan Miro Foundation
Joan Miro Foundation Joan Miro Foundation
Museu Picasso

The Picasso Museum is one of the vital and significant art collections of Picasso in the whole world. Despite that fact, some visitors leave the museum disappointed, because the most famous works are not housed here, and cubism is quite underrepresented among those paintings that are. The museum, however, is vast and interesting – more than 4000 works perfectly illustrate the development of Picasso's unique style, from the first drawings while he was a boy to mature and confident paintings years later.

The Picasso Museum (Museo Picasso in Catalan) opened its doors in 1963. At the beginning most of the collection was put together thanks to the donations of the close friend of Pablo Picasso, Jaime Sabartes. After his death in 1968 Picasso himself became the main contributor of the museum. Among his donations were the famous series of paintings interpreting the masterpiece “Las Meninas”by Diego Velázquez, countless watercolours, prints, sketches, and drawings. The museum sorts its exhibits chronologically which serves visitors well.

The early periods of Picasso's work are by far the most represented: you can see the artist's full signature – Pablo Ruiz Picasso – on his early drawings that attempt to copy the landscapes sold by his father. The art school period is all about Barcelona through the lens of young Picasso's mind – its Old Town, its Gothic cathedrals, the Barceloneta beach. By observing all art on display at the museum it is easy to see the pattern of development of the artistic mind and style. The famous Blue Period and Pink Period are represented in the museum, but there is barely a nod to Cubism, as only a couple of paintings can be found in the style. Picasso also loved ceramics: colourful mugs and plates were donated to the museum by Picasso's wife Jacqueline.

When you come to the Picasso Museum for a visit, it may seem that every other tourist in Barcelona wants to do the same thing at this exact hour. The museum, however, is well worth the effort and the long queues. The museum encompasses five (!) palaces rebuilt and renovated for this specific purpose, and it demands at least a couple of hours of your attention. The museum is open every day, excluding Mondays, from 10 am to 8 pm, and the best way to beat the crowds is to arrive early. First Sunday of every month the entrance is free which naturally lengthens the line significantly. Every Thursday at 6 pm and every Saturday at noon there are free tours of the museum conducted in English, but it is recommended that you reserve your spot well in advance.

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Museum Picasso plate Courtyard of Museo Picasso
CaixaForum Barcelona

Montjuïc and the majestic Palau Nacional (MNAC) attract all of the attention of tourists and locals strolling around Plaça Espanya. It is not surprising that few walk up to the CaixaForum Social and Cultural Centre in Barcelona, which is housed in the peculiar modernist factory, built by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, and regularly holds interesting art and history exhibitions.

The building with turrets, weаther vanes, delicate wrought ironwork and large windows resembles the Castell dels Tres Dragons in Parc de la Ciutadella more then a factory commissioned by the industrial magnate Casimir Casaramona. Before its closure in 1919 it had been fully functional and had won numerous awards for its creator, Josep Puig i Cadafalch. After the closure the factory stood abandoned until in 1940 a police station moved in. In 1963 La Caixa savings bank bought the building and got it declared a historic monument in 1976. In 2002 CaixaForum Barcelona at last opened its doors for visitors who come to numerous exhibitions dedicated to Catalan artists and international talents alike, to special lectures and seminars. A collection of photos and artifacts inside tells the story of the factory, gives some information on Casimir Casaramona and on Josep Puig i Cadafalch himself.

Аdmission to Caixa Forum is free for clients of La Caixa bank and 4€ for general public. The exhibitions are regularly changed and exhibits rotated. There are usually no crowds or jams, despite the fact that CaixaForum Barcelona regularly has works of Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Antoni Tàpies on display. Exhibition halls are connected not only by hallways, but also by open-air passageways and small cobbled courtyards where visitors can rest on one of many benches or play hide-and-seek with children – Caixa Forum is very family-friendly. An obligatory trip up to the roof of the factory will reward you with a fantastic view of the Palau Nacional, Montjuïc, and the rest of Barcelona. Watch your step: the floor of the roof is undulating – yet another creative godsend from the Modernist movement.
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CaixaForum Madrid

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Caixa Forum Barcelona Caixa Forum factory miniature model
One of passageways of Caixa Forum The famous undulating roof of Caixa Forum
The interior of Caixa Forum The interior of Caixa Forum
Fundació Antoni Tàpies

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies is not only a flagship modernist building, whose construction was completed in 1885, but also a depository of works of one of the most significant modern artists of Catalonia of the 20th century. The building itself was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner for the Montaner i Simon publishing house, which was managed by the architect's cousin at the time. Islamic motifs are combined with metal-and-brick structure to create a unique design. Tàpies deemed it necessary to crown the house with a sculpture of his own creation, named “The Cloud and the Chair”: although many people see only a tangle of wires on the roof, a certain chair is visible there as well, if you look closely.

Antoni Tàpies created the foundation in 1984 to stimulate the development of modern art in Barcelona. His own experimental work has always contained political undertones, sometimes heavily disguised: Tàpies had been an opponent of Franco's regime in the 60s and 70s. Most of the art housed in the foundation (approximately 800 works) had been donated by Tàpies himself. The collection gives a good idea of how the artistic style of Antoni Tàpies evolved, and the Fundació often holds temporary exhibitions of other modern artists.

The main floor showcases a sample of Tàpies's main artwork, and the exhibits are rotated on a regular basis. The lower floor is temporary exhibition space, and the basement houses drawings and sketches by Tàpies. The latter is just an echo of the exuberant eclectic works that made Antoni Tàpies famous in the first place.

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Fundació Antoni Tàpies The Cloud and the Chair
Fundació Antoni Tàpies, interiors Artwork by Antoni Tàpies
Museum of Catalan Modern (MMCAT)

One of the recent museum openings in Barcelona, Museu del Modernisme Català (MMCAT) was inaugurated in 2010 to showcase the one artistic movement Barcelona is most famous for, through the works of the very people who made the Modern style in Catalonia famous to the rest of the world. The museum's exposition presents 350 works of 42 Catalan Modernista artists, including the household names in the Art Nouveau movement in Barcelona - Antoni Gaudí, Josep Llimona, Ramón Casas, Josep Puig i Cadafalch and many more.

The building, a former textile factory, is itself a Modernista work designed by Enric Sagnier. Some original design elements, like Catalan vaulted ceilings and floor tiling, were carefully preserved and restored. MMCAT has not only paintings and sculpture, but also furniture and decorations on view, as well as a special hall dedicated to Antoni Gaudí.

The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 20:00, Sunday and public holidays from 10:00 to 14:00.

Article address:
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Museum of Catalan Modern (MMCAT) Exterior Museum of Catalan Modern (MMCAT) Exterior
Museum of Catalan Modern (MMCAT) Interior Museum of Catalan Modern (MMCAT) Interior
Can Framis Vila Casas Foundation

Can Framis is one of many factories built in Poblenou at the end of the 18th century that earned the neighbourhood its nickname of the "Catalan Manchester". The factory, originally owned by the Framis family, gradually stopped being used and had been all but abandoned until the restoration of the 2000s and its grand opening in 2009 as the contemporary painting museum of the Vila Casas Foundation (Fundació Vila Casas).

The exposition includes works by Catalan artists from 1960s and onwards, about 300 works in total. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 to 18:00, Sunday from 11:00 to 14:00. Closed on Mondays and all public holidays.

Article address:
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Casa Framis Vila Casas Museum Casa Framis Vila Casas Museum
Casa Framis Vila Casas Museum Casa Framis Vila Casas Museum
Museum of History of Catalonia

Opened in 1996, the History of Catalonia museum, or Museu d'Història de Catalunya, is dedicated to presenting the history of the autonomous region of Catalonia as fully and passionately as possible, to promoting the national pride and identity and to encouragement of learning through various displays, activities and exhibitions. The museum has four floors divided onto eight areas, with installations and artifacts on display presented chronologically.

Museu d'Història de Catalunya is housed in the beautiful Palau del Mar, built in 1901 to be used as a general warehouse in the old port (Port Vell) in Barcelona. The museum is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10:00 to 19:00, Sundays and public holidays from 10:00 to 14:30. Closed on Mondays, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Article address:
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Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum of Barcelona, Museu Marítim, is located in one of the most emblematic buildings of Ciutat Vella, Drassanes Reials (Royal Shipyards). Open since 1929, the museum puts on display a collection of relics, ship replicas and models, nautical instruments and maps unlike any other. The highlight of the collection is the replica of the royal galley used by Juan of Austria at the Battle of Lepanto, full-size, as well as the 1918 schooner Santa Eulàlia.

The Maritime Museum of Barcelona is presently closed for the permanent collection's major makeover. It is set to open at the end of 2014.

Article address:
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Museu Blau

Museu Blau is the new home of Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona, located in the Forum in the area known as Diagonal Mar and the river Besòs. The ultra-modern building of Museu Blau was built by Herzog & De Meuron, the same architects who redesigned CaixaForum in Madrid.

The permanent exhibition of Museu Blau is called "Planet Life" and it details the creation and the evolution of life on the planet Earth, as well as shows the current state of affairs on the planet and the unfolding relationship of nature with the human intelligence. Museu Blau also put on view the impressive zoology, geology and botany collections accumulated by the Museum of Natural Sciences through its 132 years of existence.

Museu Blau is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10:00 to 19:00 and Sundays and public holidays from 10:00 to 20:00. Closed Mondays, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, May 1st, June 24th.

Article address:
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Museu Blau Architecture Museu Blau
Museu Blau entrance Museu Blau minerals collection
CosmoCaixa Science Museum

CosmoCaixa Science Museum is an innovative interactive museum for children of all ages that promotes science and learning through permanent and temporary exhibitions, hands-on activities and presentations. CosmoCaixa permanent exhibitions include the real Amazonian rainforest complete with animals and plants typical to the ecosystem, a geological wall with seven types of real rock formations, an exhibition of the evolution of matter and life of Earth, a planetarium, and a kids'favourite Toca, Toca! (Touch, Touch!) exhibition where everything on display can be handled and investigated from every angle.

The building where CosmoCaixa is housed is itself a beautiful example of Catalan Modern, built between 1904 and 1909 by the architect Josep Domènech i Estapà. The modern steel-and-glass extension to the museum was added in 2004.

CosmoCaixa is open Tuesday to Sunday and on public holidays from 10:00 to 20:00. In summer, also open on Monday. Closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Article address:
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