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Things to Do in Barcelona

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Colonia Güell
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7 Tours and Activities

If you’re a fan of Barcelona’s Modernist architecture, then explore a little more of it by taking an excursion south to Colonia Güell. Located 20 minutes from Barcelona, and in the municipality of Santa Coloma de Cervelló, the 19th-century estate exemplifies all things Catalan Modernism. The industrial village was commissioned by its namesake Eusebi Güell, and was born out of the need to provide his textile mill’s workers with a place to live. The result is a colony featuring Modernist-style brick homes and buildings replete with iron and mosaicked detailing. Many of these exemplary works were designed by some of the era’s most notable architects.

Colonia Güell is home to another Modernist masterpiece as well, or at least part of it anyway. The Gaudi Crypt, designed by Catalonia’s beloved Antoni Gaudi, was also built upon the orders of Eusebi Güell. Unfortunately, the funds for the project eventually ended, and so did its construction, leaving only the crypt completed.

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Cardona Castle (Castell de Cardona)
4 Tours and Activities

Cardona Castle sits proudly on a hilltop opposite the mines of Salt Mountain. The stone fortress was built in Gothic and Romanesque style in 886 AD, and is perhaps the most important medieval structure in Catalonia. It was fortified and then partially destroyed in the 17th century before being fully restored in the 19th century.

Historically the castle belonged to dukes of Cardona, which were members of the Crown of Aragon, ruling just below the Royal Family. They oversaw several regions of Spain and kept many important diplomatic ties. Since being attacked in the 18th century, the fortress has become a strong symbol of Catalonian identity. Inside stands the stone Sant Vicenç Church, which dates back to the 11th century. The impressive Minyona Tower stands tall at 15 meters high above the rest of the complex. Views of the Cardener River and the town of Cardona below can be seen from the top.

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Salt Mountain Cultural Park (El Parque Cultural de la Montana de Sal)
3 Tours and Activities

Aptly named Salt Mountain is one of the largest and most important salt mines in the world. Visitors can tour a 280-foot-deep salt mine, in addition to learning about the history and production at the site’s museum. This area, also known as Mina Nieves de Cardona, is rich in natural resources and minerals and has been used to gather salt for centuries.

Inside the salt mine are jagged stalactites and stalagmites, along with deposits of potassium, magnesium, and sodium. The evaporation of salt water nearly 30 million years ago, as the Mediterranean Sea began to close, is what is responsible for the formations and deposits that exist today. Salt Mountain itself is a collection of beautiful formations, with curving colors tracing the minerals on the walls and ceilings. Streaks of both grey and reddish-brown salts add to the mountain caves’ natural beauty.

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Maricel Museum (Museu de Maricel)
3 Tours and Activities

Escape the Sitges sun and explore an artistic delight by visiting Museu Maricel. The museum is housed in a former seaside home that was built in the early 1900s for a wealthy American. What remains is a tribute to artistic development in Sitges and Catalonia that spans medieval art to the first half of the 20th century.

What you’ll find here is everything from paintings to sculptures and furniture, which cover artistic periods such as Romanticism, Renaissance and Baroque, Realism, Modernisme and the Luminist School. The artwork isn’t the only thing that will capture your eye, either, as it is housed in a spectacular building emblematic of Noucentisme, and which offers incredible views of the sea. Come here for the art, for the architecture, and simply to wander one of Sitges’ most rich, welcoming and intriguing connections to the past.

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St. Benet Monastery (Món Sant Benet)
1 Tour and Activity

Set amidst the lush forests and rolling vineyards of the Catalonian countryside, the St Benet Monastery (Món Sant Ben) is undeniably picturesque and the former Benedictine monastery is among the region’s most impressively preserved medieval sites, dating back to the 900s. Today, the monastery complex is much more than a historic site – it’s a thriving cultural heritage center combining gastronomy, art and leisure, and home to the Alicia Foundation food center, the Món Hotel and a Michelin starred restaurant.

As well as admiring the painstakingly restored 10th-century monastery, with its blend of Romanesque, Baroque and Modernist architecture, visitors can explore the Sant Benet gardens, take part in cooking workshops and wine tasting sessions, and shop for local artisan produce and organic goods grown in the monastery gardens.

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