Sagrada Familia. Park Guell. Montjuic. Barcelona is home to dozens of some of the most well known tourist attractions in the world, and for good reason. With Gothic architecture dating back to the Roman Empire, Barcelona is known to be one of the prettiest cities in the world. Although there are several top tourist destinations, Barcelona has so much more to offer. Secret town squares with centuries of history and hidden alleyways featuring street art riddle the city, waiting to be explored.
Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella Quarter is home to these secret excursions that dive into how Barcelona became the cultural epicenter that it is. We started at the Placa Reial, a quarter filled with restaurants, and a hidden statue made by Gaudi. The rest of the tour was overflowing with similar gems like this: from churches with tragic stories, to wall murals detailing an entire French Crusade. The tales told through the unexplored walls of Barcelona were plentiful, and made us appreciate where we were in a whole new light.
Some say that the destinations are what is important when on a hunt finding history, but our journey to get there was just as integral to our day, if not more. Getting lost countless times in the city led us to surprising sides of Barcelona. A rubber duck store sidelined us, showing the playfulness of the city. We then encountered several street vendors begging for us to buy their bird whistles, or giving hats for spare change after performing feats of high jumping over unsuspecting volunteers, while solo acts serenaded us with instruments like saxophones or harps.
Our favorite unexpected destination though, was a small market that opened up next to one of the churches on our scavenger hunt. Booths lined up on either side of a small pavilion were filled with authentically made breads, wines, and cheeses. We were able to talk with a vendor about his wines, and ended up staying there for ten minutes discussing his craft, and trying a few of his wares of course.
Overall, our small trip to find churches turned into a mini exploration of the more hidden aspects of Barcelona, which shows how something small can turn into something grand in a city like Barcelona.