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Barcelona Travel Guide

The Waterfront

The itinerary begins at the Plaça del Portal de la Pau, a square open to the sea. Where we find the Columbus Lookout, the Drassanes, the Customshouse and the main office of the Port of Barcelona. The most interesting building in the square is the Drassanes(57), the largest and most complete shipyard in the world that has survived from the Middle Ages. Initiated in 1378, it is one of the best examples of Catalonian civil Gothic architecture. Now occupied by the Maritime Museum, it houses intricate reproductions of historical ships and an important collection of ancient drawings and maps. In the center of the square stands the Columbus Lookout(58), a 50 m iron column supporting the statue of the discoverer of America. An elevator deck near the top for a spectacular view of the port area, Montjuïc and an overall panorama of the city.

Glancing towards the sea, we discover the old port. The popular tourist boats called "Golondrinas" depart from the Drassanes wharf and ferry sightseers around the harbor. To the left and paralell to the Passeig de Colom is the Moll de la Fusta(59) (La Fusta Wharf), one of the first areas reclaimed from the old port and transformed into a long promenade with a row of modern restaurants, cafés and bars. A recent wooden drawbridge, called Rambla del Mar, connects it with the Moll d'Espanya(60) (Espanya Wharf), where we find the following facilities: Maremagnum (a large commercial and recreational complex), IMAX (Imax, Omnimax and 3D Cinema), and L'Aquàrium (the largest aquarium in Europe).

On the left-hand side of the Passeig Colom, there are two buildings which capture our interest: the Capitanería(61) (Military headquarters), with a lovely 17th century courtyard and behind it, the Church of La Mercé(62), the only example in Barcelona of a curved Baroque façade. The Passeig de Colom ends at the Plaça de Antonio López, where we find the Main Post Office(63) with a vestibule adorned with frescos by the most characteristic Catalonian mural painters of the first half of the 20th century. Beyond the square, the Passeig de Isabel II begins and to our left, we find the Llotja de Mar(64), a 14th and 15th century Gothic structure remodeled in the 18th century. The old orange tree courtyard, with its neoclassical marble sculptures, and the large Gothic hall are the most interesting features. The building is the current site of the Barcelona Stock Exchange Library and the Academy of Fine Arts. The main façade of the Llotja faces the Pla del Palau, where we find the Porxos d'en Xifré (Xifre's porches), the Casa Carbonell-Collaso, neoclassical work and former Customshouse(65), now belonging to the Civil Government. The main hall contains the most important neoclassical murals in Barcelona.

Gothic Quarter
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From here we take Passeig de Juan de Borbón which borders the port and the area called Barceloneta. The waterfront of this popular district forms a wide esplanade which is to undergo urban planning measures similar to those at Moll de la Fusta. The seafront area has the oldest beaches in Barcelona which are usually very crowded. A wide promenade connects it to the Olympic Village.

Of all the remodeling along the waterfront, the Olympic Village(66) is the grandest. Built for the 1992 Olympic Games, its design simulates the grid-like pattern of the Eixample. It comprises approximately 2,000 dwellings designed by prestigious architects from all over the world. Soaring above the apartment blocks are twin 142 m towers; one houses offices and the other a hotel. The Village has a modern Olympic Port(67), a lively center with restaurants, cafés and bars where the Barcelonans congregate during the spring and summer. The Promenade and large green parks that hug the three recently rejuvenated beaches complete the urban planning project. Efforts to recuperate the waterfront are still continuing with the transformation of the old industrial district of Poble Nou into a residential area.

Metro: Line 3 (Drassanes) and Line 4 (Barceloneta).

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