Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A Short visit to Madrid and Barcelona.

16 October 2016

In October 2016, my husband and I flew into Madrid to begin our 5 week holiday in Spain and the Mediterranean.

It has been challenging to make this selection of photos of our 1st week - Madrid [2days] and Barcelona [4 days].

My initial and continuing impression of all the Spanish cities we visited, was of the beauty of the narrow balconies with their cast iron balustrades, that were found on almost every apartment building, lining  narrow and often cobbled streets. 

Plaza Mayor - Madrid's central plaza dating back to 1598. It has a ring of old and traditional shops under its porticoes and has seen markets, bull fights, football games and executions.

Panorama of Plaza

A late afternoon walk beside the Manzanares River with lovely views back to the old city, cathedral and palace.

After our visit to the Prado Museum - Spanish National Art Gallery - and being blown away by pieces like:-
 Raphaels - The Cardinal', Velazquez's -  Mirror on the Wall, Rubin's - Three Graces and Tintorettos - Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples,
we walked through El Retiro Park, which once belonged to the Spanish Monarchy.

So much to see and looking up was a must do.

Every entrance boasted an impressive wooden door. This was repeated throughout the towns we visited in Spain.

The magnificent Royal Palace.


An 8 hour coach journey took us east to Barcelona. An unexpected highlight was crossing 0 longitude.

During our first morning in Barcelona, we were taken on a guided tour of the city.
After lunch, our coach took just over an hour to drive us to the base of the multi- peaked, rocky range of Montserrat. Here we  boarded a gondola for the spectacular ride up to the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat. [1025 AD]

The abbey and its position on the side of the Montserrat Range.

Inside the cathedral. 
Bottom right is the 12th C Black Madona, attributed to many miracles.

I spent a lot of time appreciating this awe inspiring, side chapel in the abbey.

It was in Barcelona, that my excitement for exploring the narrow alleyways of Spanish towns grew.

Christopher Columbus Column.

La Rambla

The markets were amazing.

Arche de Triumphe, built for the Barcelona World Fair in 1888.

Placa Catalunya.

The old bullring, now a shopping centre.

Placa Espanya and Avenue de la Reina Maria Cristina.

Venetian Towers [ornamental] and the National Palace built for the International Exhibition of 1929.

Looking down from, and up to, the National Palace and its Magic Fountain. [Both built at the same time] Each evening the fountain performs a unique display of music, water acrobatics and light. Alas, our timing was poor and we missed the show. 

View across Barcelona, from the National Museum to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus [seen on the horizon] atop the Tibidabo, the highest point in the range behind Barcelona.

Our hotel was towards the base of the Tibidabo and on our last morning we walked to a funicular, that took us to the base of the church and an amusement park. We skipped the park, visited the church and climbed the stairs to the base of the statue of Christ - impressive position, impressive building and sculptures, and impressive 360 views.

The Cathedral of Barcelona is often confused with the Basilica Sagrada Familia, designed by Antoni Gaudi. The Cathedral sits in the centre of the old city streets, in the Gothic Quarter. Its beauty is overlooked because of the renown of the Basilica.
In this photo, it's spires rise above the surrounding buildings. 

We were able to take a lift up to its roof top, walk along some narrow, grated walkway and take in the roof top vistas of Barcelona.

The Basilica Sagrada Familia, as seen from the rooftop of the Cathedral, 3 kms away.

Gaudi took over the designing of the Basilica in 1887 and worked on it for 40 years, until his death after a tragic accident with a tram. 

On our first quite brief visit, we only walked around the outside. I could appreciate the craftsmanship, but for me, it was too overdone for it to be a place of worship.

At the end of our holiday, we had to return to Barcelona for our flight home. We paid for an audio tour. Its commentary of both the external and internal building, totally changed my feelings. Once we stepped inside, we couldn't help but be moved by the stunning natural light, vibrant stained glass and simplicity. One's spirit rapidly soared to Gaudi's tree tops.
I won't even begin to explain his thoughts behind the design, but if you are interested, this link does quite a good job.

The entrance door has The Lord's Prayer written in Spanish, in its centre. In the background is the same prayer in many other languages.

The expectation is that the Sagrada Familia will be completed in another 10 years. Work commenced 133 years ago!

Walking back to our hotel on our last evening, we walked past this beautifully lit, city wall.  It was difficult to say goodbye to this captivating city.

This post has barely scratched the surface of what makes Madrid and Barcelona. I hope you too get to visit and see it all for yourself.
Thank you for visiting and I would love to read your comment.


  1. I've so enjoyed all your photos and stories from your Spain trip. Yes, I'm ready to hop on a plane and visit for myself!

  2. So much to see--- And the Abbey!!! Wonderful.

  3. A five week holiday! That sounds amazing.

    1. We have a saying 'down under' - " Australia the lucky country" It is very true.
      Another reason for 5 weeks is that it is so far to go and takes so long, you take as much time away as possible.

  4. Wow - such superb shots of the amazing Spanish architecture!

  5. I know loads of people who have been to Barcelona and they all the say the same thing - its magnificent. My friend went last year and too loads of photos. You can read his posts starting here and follow the links to work through them:
    Somewhere else I clearly need to go

    1. 1. I now know who 'Beating the Bounds' is.
      2. I followed the link and I can see more time is going to be lost following his blog.
      3. It was great to see where I had walked.
      4. I just love his photography of the Sagrada Familia. It is so incredibly beautiful.

  6. Two cities of great football. :)
    Gorgeous architecture and wonderful green areas. I liked especially your collage of the El Retiro Park.
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. Sara, with an English husband and hence football fanatic, we found both stadiums and photos were taken! El Retiro Park was expansive and I have many, many more photos of its lakes, glass palaces, sculptures and monuments. I made this selection for the 'autumn' I never see back in Oz.

  8. Wow! I'm just catching up on your travels. It is amazing, the history and architecture is just incredible. Thank you for taking so many photos. I am really enjoying your posts.