Discover the unique spirit of Catalan with this intelligent and in-depth guidebook. Take a tour of Gaudi's revolutionary architecture in the exciting and dynamic city of Barcelona; savor the stunning views of medieval Girona and the Roman ruins at picturesque Tarragona; and bask in the beauty of the Costa Bravan beaches and the magnificence of the Catalan Pyrenees.
* Includes in-depth cultural and historical backgrounds
* Contains practical travel advice and easy-to-use maps
* Hand-picks the best places to stay and eat
* Recommends the top sites for each region.
Excerpt: Cap de Creus
On the map it protrudes from the coast like a nipple on a frosty day, and up close Cap de Creus is just as fascinating. Its fabric is 450 million year old rock, shattered and upended when the Iberian peninsula collided with Europe to form the Pyrenees, then scoured and eroded into strange shapes by the tramuntana that blows so fiercely- Joan Maragell famously called Empordà the ‘palace of winds’. Terraces laboriously carved over the ages are now abandoned: the phylloxera epidemic in the 1880s killed the vines, a devastating frost in 1956 killed the olives and wildfires over the past couple of decades have left the rock prey to the elements. Dalí spent much of his life amid this ‘grandiose geological delirium’; its brilliant light, coves and weirdly-shaped rocks appear repeatedly in his paintings. ...click here to read the rest
A marvelous guide to a marvelous city, /5
We visited Barcelona earlier this year for the first time, and found a fascinating, vibrant city, that had been greatly improved when it hosted the Olympics. Barcelona has a long tradition of keeping major architectural elements from its past, often giving them new uses, and it relied on this tradition to open up the waterfront to the rest of the city. The result is one of the most interesting walking cities in the world.
The Cadogan Guides are worth buying and reading before a visit to any of its regions, and the Barcelona guide is no exception. An extract gives a fair description of the treasures here:
"We have watched Barcelona evolve since our first visit in 1980, and are happy to report that the city that captivated the world in the 1992 Summer Olympics is hardly ready to rest on its quirky, design-obsessed laurels. While millions come to marvel at the colossal construction project that is the Sagrada Famil"a, away from the crowds the city is putting the final touches on a high speed international rail network and the world's longest metro line. A new city center is under construction around the hideous soon-to-be-buried elevated roundabout, the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, where Jean Nouvel's landmark Torre Agbar (the 'Suppository') already shimmers with 4500 LED illuminations: one building will be the Centre de Disseny, dedicated to designer everything past, present and future. A cutting-edge Marine Zoo is being set up along the coast by the new Forum, where architect Zaha Hadid recently laid the first stone of her Spiralling Tower.
"But the vibrant city of Gaudi, Picasso and Miro hardly stands alone. The real Barcelona is the city state of Catalonia, a splendid region of olive groves and vines, mountains and beaches, medieval hill towns and idyllic Mediterranean scenery -- all missed by visitors making a beeline to Barcelona. In our new Cadogan Guide we make an effort to tempt the reader into this fascinating hinterland, to explore the proud, restless Catalan genius underlying the unique 'Dali Triangle' around Girona, the startling Modernista cava cellars of the Alt Penedes and brand new endeavors such as the Fundacio Alicia for scientific culinary research, directed by the 'world's greatest chef,' Ferran Adria of elBulli."
Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls have done a terrific job with this guide. We also found Top 10 Barcelona (EYEWITNESS TOP 10 TRAVEL GUIDE) a very handy reference during our visit.
Our reading list for this stop on our tour included several old favorites:
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. Orwell's street level view of the Barcelona uprising and the spirit of a city at war is a classic, of course. Barcelona's tradition of keeping the old and building for the new give the book an immediancy that is hard to resist.
Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago by Tim Moore. This book tells the history and describes the culture of the medieval Way of St. James, a very different region of Spain, but enlightening on how people from Barcelona differ from the northern regions.
Barcelona by Robert Hughes. A long time cultural history favorite: architecture, art, religion and literature from Rome to the present. 180 mostly black-and-white photographs.
Antoni Gaudi by Ignasi de Sola Morales. You can't escape Gaudi in Barcelona -- and who would want to -- nor dozens of books on his art. This 1992 book is a comprehensive study featuring 300 color illustrations.
There's much, much more, but Barcelona & Catalonia (Cadogan Guides) is a wonderful introduction.
Robert C. Ross 2009
don't leave without it, /5
I have visited Barcelona and the surrounding area and wish I had had this guide with me. It gives a good historical background, maps including train maps and a concise yet thorough guide to all you need to know about the area. It offers great instructions for how to get around, a range of eateries and places to stay for all budgets. It uses Catalan spellings for place names. I'm going back armed with this guide. This review first appeared on Karen Platt's book review website.
Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org