Barcelona's best patatas bravas, wild boar, sieges and hospitals on this week's social programme

Hospital de Sant Pau

Entrance to the Hospital de Sant Pau | Photo: Tom Walton

Note that if you'd like to come with us on Thursday to see the wonderful Hospital de Sant Pau, the deadline to sign up is 16.00 on Tuesday.

  • Tuesday 28th | We have a trip up to the barrio of Sarrià [map] this afternoon. A separate town until it was incorporated into Barcelona in 1921, Sarrià still feels a little like a small town. Look out for wild boar, stop off at the posh bakers Foix de Sarrià (Plaça de Sarrià 12-13) if you're feeling peckish — or try the world's best ever patatas bravas at Bar Tomás (Major de Sarrià 49). Shame it's rather expensive to find a flat there (16.00) !
  • Wednesday 29th | Our walk today takes us from the Arc de Triomf [Wikipedia], the main entrance to Barcelona's 1888 World Fair to the Parc de la Ciutadella, which takes its name from the citadel built after the siege of 1714 to dominate the city, and was then the location of the 1888 exhibition, of which a few surprising traces still remain (16.00).
  • Thursday 30th | Come with us this afternoon to see the amazing Modernista architecture of the Hospital de Sant Pau, built between 1901 and 1930. Just a couple of blocks up from the Sagrada Familia, it was designed by the architect Domènech i Montaner (1850-1923) to have the sort of pleasant surroundings that would aid its patients' recovery, with a series of tunnels hidden away below ground linking the different pavilions and providing the hospital with its services (entrance: €6.50; 16.00)
  • Friday 31st | Come get yourself some extra Spanish practice at our Friday Club language exchange. This week's theme, "Summer is Coming" (!!) (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 | There's the small matter of the Champions Final on Saturday, Liverpool vs Tottenham (in Madrid, kick-off 21.00). Who would have thought it, eh? The biggest game in Europe contested by two clubs that, according to the Guardian's The Knowledge, haven't won their domestic league for a combined total of 87 years, and neither Manchester City nor Barça (winners of 8 out of the last 11 Spanish League titles) got there, the latter dumped out unceremoniously by Liverpool!

And we also have the crazy Primavera Sound festival this weekend (May 30-June 1), which is one of the World's Top 50 Music Festivals, says  TimeOut.

The two contrasting sides of Barcelona's Via Laietana

View from Montjuic

The view from the top of Montjuic, looking out over the container port, otherwise hidden from the city | Photo: Tom Walton

Running down the city centre of Barcelona there's the Via Laietana; on our social programme this week we're going exploring, on the far side into the Gothic Quarter and, on Wednesday, we're staying on "our" side, the less touristy one, and taking a stroll down into La Ribera…

  • Tuesday 14th | Come and take a walk with us this afternoon in the Spring sunshine, across the Barrio Gótico to the Ramblas (16.00).
  • Wednesday 15th | It's less famous and a bit less crowded but (and so!) "our" side of the Via Laietana, with the barrios of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina, La Ribera and the Born, is nicer 😉 ! Come see with us and see some of its lovely squares today (16.00).
  • Thursday 16th | For views of Barcelona, it's hard to beat Montjuic, the city's "magic mountain". It has some of Barcelona's best art museums (the CaixaForum, the Miró Foundation, the MNAC, for example…), it's wonderful for some fresh air or for somewhere to jog or cycle (assuming a certain level of fitness, that is, as there are some testing hills!). Or you just want somewhere for a picnic? Montjuic (16.00)!
  • Friday 17th | 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 | On Saturday it's the Nit dels Museus (the Noche de los Museos), with entrance free to many of Barcelona's museums from 19.00 to 01.00.

Outstanding | Until May 26 we have the World Press Photo exhibition on at the CCCB (open Tuesday to Sunday, 11.00 to 20.00).

Sant Jordi, a very special day in Barcelona

A rose for Sant Jordi

A rose for Sant Jordi | Photo: Tom Walton

Take a stroll round Barcelona this Tuesday and be amazed. Or come with us on our social programme this week and we'll try and explain…

  • Tuesday 23rd | It's Sant Jordi (St. George), the patron saint of Catalonia, and a very special day in the Barcelona year, one on which we give books and roses to our loved ones. Not everyone agrees that George is politically correct but Barcelona certainly has some cool dragons! Come with us this afternoon and see what's happening around the (completely packed!) city centre.
  • Wednesday 24th | It's hard to believe, but Via Laietana is little more than 100 years old. Driven through the heart of the old city between 1908 and 1913, it's now one of Barcelona's busiest streets — and just a two-minute walk away from IH. Come with us and discover more of its history this afternoon (16.00).
  • Thursday 25th | We're taking a stroll across the Raval, the popular district to your right as you wander down the Ramblas, as far as the market of Sant Antoni. The Raval is home to the CCCB and the MACBA, Fernando Botero's fat cat, and to the protagonists of many of Barcelona's novelas negras. The market, on the other side of the Raval, has recently been restored to its Modernista splendor and dates back to 1882 (16.00).
  • Friday 26th | Come get yourself some extra practice for 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 | In the Spanish League, which Barça have strolled to this season, we have Barça vs Levante (Saturday, kick-off 20.45).

Easter and Manchester United in Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia from the Turó de la Rovira | Photo: Tom Walton

Easter, and we're enjoying spectacular sunshine here in Barcelona — without it yet being hot: perfect for one of the walks on our social programme this week:

  • Tuesday 16th | We have a stroll this afternoon taking you to see some of the hidden corners of Barcelona you might otherwise miss. Come with us and explore (and see also these other hidden places, in other barrios) (16.00).
  • Wednesday 17th | 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 18th | Bring your walking shoes with you this afternoon and prepared for a walk up one of Barcelona's steepest streets. We're going to the top of the Turó de la Rovira (262m), where there were anti-aircraft guns during the Spanish Civil War (Barcelona was bombed in 1938). The view from the top (see photo, above) is spectacular (16.00).

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

Note that Friday is a national holiday and, from Thursday evening to Tuesday morning, school will be closed for Easter.

Also this week | In the return leg of the Champions Quarter Final, it's Barça vs Manchester United (Tuesday, kick-off 21.00), with Barça sitting comfortably on a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

The Guardian's wonderful Joy of Six column looks back at previous Barcelona v Manchester United clashes and Barcelona was of course the venue for one of United's greatest ever comebacks

At the weekend, in La Liga (which Barça have all but won, again"), there's also Barça vs Real Sociedad (Saturday, kick-off 20.45).

Barcelona's amazing Modernista architecture


El Quadrat d'Or (1990) por manuelhuerga

The wonderful video shows you what the Quadrat d'Or looked like in 1900 (with no cars!), at the time Barcelona's Eixample district was just acquiring its amazing Modernista architecture. Come along with us on our social program Thursday to see it for yourself…

  • Tuesday 2nd | Come with us this afternoon to visit 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 (see photo, above), 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. Our walk will also take us down to the Avinguda del Paral·lel (so named because it lies parallel to the Equator). Inaugurated in 1894, and running down to the port from Plaça Espanya, it was once the centre of Barcelona nightlife, with theatres and cabarets and music halls (16.00).
  • Wednesday 3rd | It's five 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 interesting. Come along if you're interested in the history of the city (16.00)!
  • Thursday 4th | 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. It's Antoni Gaudí that got all the fame and credit for it, but we'll also be telling you about Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Lluís Domènech i Montaner (and we ought also to give an honourable mention to the prolific Enric Sagnier) (16.00).
  • Friday 5th | 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 | We have the 37th edition of Barcelona's Fira del Comic (April 5-7), which attracted 120,000 visitors last year, and is always hugely successful.

In the Spanish League, we have Barça vs Atlético Madrid (Saturday, kick-off 20.45), with Atlético — ten points adrift in second place — the only team now standing between Barça and yet another league title.