Barcelona this week: a small matter of independence

Palau de la Musica

Are we really heading for independence? On Sunday, we should know | Photo: Tom Walton

Our social programme this week — an interesting one for Barcelona!

  • Tuesday 26th | Come for a stroll around the Raval, the district on the right of the Ramblas as you head down towards the port. One of the best places in Barcelona to go to find street art, it was a rather seedy red light district but is now home to the CCCB and the MACBA and Fernando Botero's fat cat, and (in keeping with its past) to the protagonists of many of Barcelona's novelas negras (16.00).
  • Wednesday 27th | First laid out in 1791, the Laberinto de Horta is one of the most romantic of the hidden corners of Barcelona (as well as being one of the settings for Tom Tykwer's 2006 film Perfume: The Story of a Murderer). Come along and see it with us (16.00).
  • Thursday 28th | Note the change from the usual time today: this evening we're going to the spectacular light and sound show of the Magic Fountains of Montjuic (20.30).
  • Friday 29th | Our Friday Club language exchange is one of the most popular events on our social program. Why not join us on the terrace and in the bar after class this evening (19.00-21.00)?

Join us in Spanish Reception (C floor), unless otherwise stated, at the times given above.

Also this week | Assuming the vote on Sunday goes ahead, there's the small matter of whether or not in Catalonia we think we should be an independent nation. You could do worse than read The Guardian's section on Catalonia if you've been trying to ignore it all and now feel you should catch up on what all the shouting is about.

In the Spanish League (almost as important as independence 😉 ), it's Barça vs Palma (Sunday, kick-off 21.00).

This week: the Mercè, Barcelona's Festa Major

The correfoc: Barcelona parties | Photo: Tom Walton

The Mercè is one of those times of year when Barcelona seems to go ever so slightly bonkers and it's definitely a time to be here! Come with us and see for yourself on our social programme this week:

  • Wednesday 20th | Our walk this afternoon takes us to the Manzana de la Discordia, the block on Passeig de Gracia with three of Barcelona's best examples of Modernista architecture — the Casa Batlló (Gaudí); the Casa Amatller (Puig i Cadafalch); and the Casa Lleó i Morera (Domènech i Montaner); as well as to the Casa Milà (also by Gaudí), which is further up the street on the other side (16.00).
  • Thursday 21st | The 1992 Olympics changed large parts of Barcelona — among them Montjuïc [Flickr | Wikipedia], which is where we're going this afternoon. Bring your camera or phone along: the views are fantastic (16.00) !
  • Friday 22nd | Come with us this evening for the start of the Mercè (see also below), Barcelona's Festa Major (18.30).

Join us in Spanish Reception (C floor), unless otherwise stated, at the times given above. Note that there's no Friday Club this week.

Also this week | Don't miss the Merçè [full details], will you? Highlights include the amazing castellers (Saturday and Sunday in the Plaça Sant Jaume at 12.00); the fireworks and dragons of the correfoc (Saturday 18.30 and 20.00 on the Via Laietana);  and the exceedingly noise trabucaries (Sunday 9.00, Plaça Sant Jaume).

Note also that Monday 25th is a holiday in Barcelona, and school will be closed.

In the Spanish League, we have Barça vs Eibar (Tuesday, kick-off 22.00) and, 100km north, in the lovely town of Girona, the first ever Girona vs Barça La Liga game (Saturday, kick-off 20.45), with newly promoted Girona having a Manchester City connection that The Guardian thinks is somewhat fishy.

What's on in September in Barcelona


The Palacio Nacional, housing the MNAC's 1000 Years of Art – one of the many things to see around the Plaza España | Photo: Tom Walton

The first week in September (such a lovely time of the year in Barcelona!). On our social programme this week:

  • Tuesday 5th | The barrio of Barceloneta was built on reclaimed land and dates back only to the 18th century but once housed Barcelona's fishermen and then, later, factories. Both are now long gone and have been replaced by a lot of noisy tourists, but the district still retains a peculiar, original flavour (16.00).
  • Wednesday 6th | Transformed for the 1929 Universal Exhibition, the Plaza España is within walking distance of so much: the Las Arenas shopping mall in the former bullring (great view from the top!); Miró's Dona i Ocell (no sniggering!); the outstanding art collection at the MNAC (housed in the Palacio Nacional, built for the Exhibition); the former factory, now art museum of the CaixaForum and lots more besides. We won't actually be going into the latter, but you might want to, afterwards (16.00).
  • Thursday 7th | It's a couple of years now since the 300th anniversary of the siege of Barcelona but the Barcelona 1714 route is still a historically fascinating one. The remains of the city blocks demolished to build the post-siege fortress now to be seen at the Born Centre Cultural are particularly curious. Why is next Monday a holiday? Come along and find out (16.00)!
  • Friday 8th | It's a long weekend (we're open tomorrow morning, but closed on Monday 11th) and what better place to kick it off (as well as practise your Spanish) than at our Friday Club language exchange? In the bar/on the terrace, 19.00-21.00.

Join us in Spanish Reception (C floor), unless otherwise stated, at the times given above.

Also this week | In the Spanish League, we have the local derby, Barça vs Espanyol (Saturday, kick-off 20.45). If any of you still do the pools, that would be a dead cert for a home win 😉 ! ¡ Hay que ser un poco friki para ser del Espanyol !

Coming up later this month | The Merçè (September 22-25) is Barcelona's Festa Major. Full details of what's on.

For more on what's on in Barcelona in September, see Barcelona Turisme's Agenda (.pdf document).

Come with us to the Festa Major de Gracia, Friday

Festa Major de Gracia

Street decorations, Festa Major de Gracia | Tom Walton

With Tuesday being a holiday (school closed, no class), we've an event on Friday on our social programme, as well as our Friday Club.

  • Tuesday 15th | National holiday in Spain
  • Wednesday 16th | Today's trip takes us to the top of Montjuic to visit the fortress that overlooks Barcelona. From it, the city was bombarded on various occasions and it also enjoyed notoriety as a prison. Today, however, it's one of the best places to go to obtain magnificent views of Barcelona (entrance fee €5.00, 16.00).
  • Thursday 17th | Come along on our walk this afternoon, which will take you to some of the hidden places in the old city that you might otherwise miss (16.00)! See also other hidden corners of Barcelona in previous entries on this blog.
  • Friday 18th | Come with us this afternoon to see some of the amazing street decorations at the Festa Major de Gràcia (full programme, in Catalan), probably the best of Barcelona's barrio street festivals (16.00).
  • Also this Friday | Join us this evening at our Friday Club language exchange. It's a great place to kick off the weekend — and to practise your Spanish !! In the bar/on the terrace, 19.00-21.00.

Join us in Spanish Reception (C floor), unless otherwise stated, at the times given above.

Also this week | Spanish Super Cup, second leg, Real Madrid vs Barça (Wednesday, kick-off 23.00 (!!), in Madrid); and then the La Liga starts on Sunday, with Barça vs Betis (kick-off 20.15).

The Born, Picasso and architecture on this week's social programme

Street art reproduction of Picasso painting

Street art by unknown artist, reproduction of Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon, Ciutat Vella; come with us and see, Wednesday — or view on Instagram | photo: Tom Walton

Bring your sunhat on our social programme this week — it's got real hot in Barcelona!

  • Tuesday 8th | Join us on our walk today round the  popular barrio of El Born, full of cool bars and history, home to the lovely church of Santa Maria del Mar and the Estación de Francia, as well as the fascinating remains of the medieval city of Barcelona in the old Born Market (16.00).
  • Wednesday 9th | This afternoon's trip takes us to see some of Picasso's Barcelona: it includes some of the most picturesque of the streets of the Barrio Gótico (Petrixol, Avinyó…); places like the 4 Gats restaurant (a bohemian taberna in Picasso's time); the Estación de Francia (from where he first travelled to Paris at the age of 21); and the Carrer de Montcada, where the Picasso Museum now stands (16.00).
  • Thursday 10th | Come with us for a stroll this afternoon to see something of the Ruta del Modernismo. We can't and won't (promise!) take you to see all the 116 Modernista buildings officially included in the Route, but you'll get at least a taste of Barcelona's magnificent architecture [see also this video on how Modernisme changed Barcelona] (16.00).
  • Friday 11th | Kick off the weekend — and practise your Spanish! — at our Friday Club language exchange (in the bar/on the terrace, 19.00-21.00).

Join us in Spanish Reception (C floor), unless otherwise stated, at the times given above.

Also this week | The Joan Gamper Trophy game, Barça vs Chapecoense (Monday, kick-off 20.30) is your first chance to see Barça (now shamelessly Neymar-less) at home this season. You can trash that Neymar replica shirt now!