Barcelona at its best – and worst

Roses for Sant Jordi

Roses for Sant Jordi | Photo: Tom Walton

Barcelona (and Sant Jordi) in the spring sunshine: one of those times of the years when it's at its loveliest. Come and see on our social programme this week:

  • Tuesday 18th | Come with us today to explore the popular district of Gracia: interesting history, lovely architecture, great bars (and, in August, a great festa major)! We'll also be seeing one of the less well-known Gaudí works, the Casa Viçens (16.00).
  • Wednesday 19th | Our walk this afternoon 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 20th | We have a stroll round the Barrio Gótico for you today, taking you to see some of the hidden corners you might otherwise miss. Come with us and explore (and see also these other hidden corners of Barcelona, in other barrios).
  • Friday 21st | We have a special Sant Jordi edition of our Friday Club language exchange this week. 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 | It's a kind of big week for Barça: on Wednesday in the Champions it's the return of the Barça vs Juventus Quarter Final (kick-off 20.45), with Barça down 3-0 after the first leg; and then on Sunday, in the Spanish League, it's Real Madrid vs Barça (kick-off 20.45), with Barça 3 points behind their arch rivals, who still have a game in hand. A double opportunity — because of the atavistic screaming that goes on and the absurd amount of importance attached to such things — to see Barcelona at its worst.

Sunday also happens to be Sant Jordi, when tradition has it that the girl gives her guy a book, and in return receives a rose. Barcelona at its best (though you'll have to pardon us for suggesting it's all become a bit commercialized).

Easter in Barcelona

Exploring the Barrio Gótico

Exploring the Barrio Gótico | Photo: Tom Walton

Note that there's no Friday Club on our social programme this week, with Friday being a national holiday.

  • Tuesday 11th | Join us today on our walk round the Barrio Gótico, the old part of the city of Barcelona. You could and will go on your own — but come with us and you'll discover some of the wonderful things to be found there (16.00).
  • Wednesday 12th | Our trip this afternoon takes us down to the Plaza España to see the 1000 years of art in the outstanding collection at the MNAC, the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña. Don't miss the temporary exhibition Uprisings, for a curious piece of Barcelona's turbulent history (16.00).
  • Tthursday 13th | One you just must see: the best known Gaudí building in Barcelona, the still unfinished Sagrada Familia, though it's supposed to be completed by 2026 (see this video if you can't wait that long!). See also some of the cool pictures to be found on the official Sagrada Familia Instagram feed. Note that we won't be going inside — if you want to do that, book online). It's definitely not something to be missed so why not come with us today (16.00)?
  • Friday 14th | National holiday

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

Easter | Note that this week school will be open only 09.00 to 16.00 and will be closed from Friday 14 to Monday 17th, inclusive, reopening on Tuesday 18th at 08.00.

Also this week | Champions Quarter Final, Juventus vs Barça (Tuesday, kick-off 20.45); Spanish League, Barça vs Real Sociedad (Saturday, kick-off 20.45).

This week: the Raval and Barceloneta, two of Barcelona's most curious barrios

Street art in the Raval

Street art shop shutter in the Raval | Photo: Tom Walton

Perhaps because of their proximity, our favourite Barcelona barrios are those directly between us and Santa María del Mar but the Raval (Tuesday) and Barceloneta (Thursday), on our social programme this week, would be high up there on our list of favourites.

  • Tuesday 4th | 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 5th | 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 6th | 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).
  • Friday 7th | Come along to our last Friday Club language exchange before the Easter break (don't worry, we'll be right back on Friday 21st!). 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 | Unfortunately, in the Spanish League, Seville have slumped otherwise the game on Wednesday, Barça vs Sevilla (kick-off 19.30), would have been a big one. Barça still need to win to keep up with the leaders, Real Madrid, who they play later this month.

Walking Barcelona on our social programme this week

The port of Barcelona from Montjuïc. The World Trade Centre is just visible left, the Hotel Vela, centre | Photo: Tom Walton

You'll want some comfortable walking shoes on our social programme this week — and your phone or camera!

  • Tuesday 28th | 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).
  • Wednesday 29th | Come with us today to visit the lovely Parque de la Ciudadela, which stands where once there was a fortress to keep the city subdued. We'll also be going to the Eiffel Tower-inspired Estación de Francia. If you're interested in architecture, and the history of Barcelona, there are some fascinating things to see on today's trip. If it's sunny, a real nice walk (16.00).
  • Thursday 30th | The 1992 Olympics changed large parts of Barcelona — among them the mountain of  MontjuïcWikipedia ], which overlooks the city and which is where we're going this afternoon. Bring your camera or phone along: the views [ Flickr | Instagram ] are fantastic (16.00) !
  • Friday 31st | 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 | It's the 35th edition of El Salón Internacional del Cómic de Barcelona (March 30-April 2) this week. Massively popular — don't leave it until the last minute to get your ticket.

Come and see the Park Güell in the spring sunshine

Entrance to the Park Guell, Barcelona

Entrance to the Park Güell, Barcelona | Photo: Irene Ucha

It's that time of the year when Barcelona is at it's loveliest. Come and see on our social programme this week.

Note that if you're coming with us to the Park Güell on Thursday, you need to book your place before 16.00 on Tuesday.

  • Tuesday 21st | Today's trip takes us into the barrio of Poble Nou, which is home to the iconic Torre Agbar (just visible, top left, in our photograph), the nightclub Razzmatazz and some of Barcelona's best street art. But come along with us and discover a whole lot more about one of the city's most interesting, most genuine barrios (16.00).
  • Wednesday 22nd | Come with us this afternoon to visit two of Barcelona's food markets: Santa Catalina, which is under 10 minutes away, and then across the Barrio Gótico to the Ramblas and the Boqueria [ video ], the more famous of the two. Both are great places to go for lunch, by the way. Bring your camera (16.00)!
  • Thursday 23rd | Come with us the the Park Güell this afternoon, the lovely Gaudí park – especially gorgeous in the spring sunshine. Magnificent views of Barcelona from the top. Don't forget to book your place in Reception, entrance fee €7 (16.00).
  • Friday 24th | Join us on the terrace and in the bar after class today for our very popular Friday Club language exchange (19.00-21.00).

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