Crime stories and Romans and sieges on our social programme this week in Barcelona

Fat cat in the Raval

Fat cat in the Raval | Photo: Tom Walton

We've got lots on our social programme this week if you're interested in Barcelona's fascinating past. Come along with us!

  • Tuesday 11th | 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 (16.30).
  • Wednesday 12th | Come with us this evening to discover what happens at the Festes de Saint Eulàlia, one of Barcelona's two patron saints (18.00). It's her saint's day today, and if you are unfamiliar with how she became a martyr in Roman times, here's her story on Wikipedia.
  • Thursday 13th | It's a few 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 (16.30).

Join us in Ground Floor Reception by the front door at the start times given above.

Also this week | Spanish League, Barça vs the amazing Getafe, who are currently third, seven points behind Barça, who are themselves 3 points behind the leaders, Real Madrid (Saturday, kick-off 16.00). The season is about to get interesting, as March 1st it's Real Madrid vs Barça.

Two very different areas of Barcelona

Plaza España

Plaza España and Las Arenas | Photo: Tom Walton

We normally have three events on our social programme every week but we've had to postpone Wednesday's trip. Sorry! The two trips that we do have, however, will take you to a couple of places you might otherwise miss — and there's an interesting contrast between them.

  • Tuesday 4th | 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!
  • Thursday 6th | Our excursion this afternoon takes us to see "La Barcelona de 1929", the Barcelona of the 1929 Universal Exhibition of that year. Among the areas of Barcelona that it transformed was the Plaza España, itself not one of the city's most pleasant squares but within walking distance there is 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.

Join us in Ground Floor Reception, by the front door at 16.30.

Come and walk Barcelona with us this week

Model of Barcelona

Model of Barcelona showing the Parc de la Ciutadella | Photo: Natxo Azoz

Bring your walking shoes on our social programme this week. Storm Gloria has passed and when it's cold but sunny, Barcelona is at its most lovely.

  • Tuesday 28th | 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.
  • Wednesday 29th | Our trip this afternoon takes us to visit the lovely Parque de la Ciudadela, named after the the fortress built to dominate the city after the 1713-14 siege. In the photo, above, you have the park with the Catalan parliament building in the foreground (ironically housed the fortress's arsenal), the Estación de Francia top left and the Castell dels Tres Dragons top right of the park, among other buildings. If you're interested in architecture, and the history of Barcelona, there are some fascinating things to see on today's trip.
  • Thursday 30th | Our third trip this week takes us down to the seafront — to Barceloneta and the Vila Olímpica. The former 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 rather noisy tourists, but the district still retains a peculiar, original flavour.

Join us in Ground Floor Reception, by the front door at 16.30.

Also this week | Spanish League, Barça vs Levante (Sunday, kick-off 21.00).

Come with us to see the Sagrada Familia this week

Sagrada Familia Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia: come and see, Thursday | Photo: Tom Walton

Yes, you'll want to come with us to visit the Sagrada Familia on our social programme this week but come Tuesday, too, and as we think you'll find it particularly enlightening if you are curious about Catalan culture. Wednesday, we have one of Barcelona's most spectacular dragons.

  • Tuesday 21st | Our walk today takes us to see places we associate with Catalan identity. Just round the corner, the lovely Palau de la Musica is our first stop, the Casa dels Entremesos our second, to see some curious giants. Also included is the Palau de la Generalitat and, over on the Ramblas, the Liceu opera house. Having a quick overview of Catalan history will help situate you and give you an understanding of what's behind the push for Catalan independence.
  • Wednesday 22nd | Our trip this afternoon takes us to the lovely gardens of the Palacio Real de Pedralbes, which was home to the Spanish monarchy 1919-1931 whenever they visited the city, and also takes in the remarkable Gaudí dragon on the gate of the Finca Güell, the summer home of Eusebi Güell, Gaudí's great patron.
  • Thursday 23rd | One you just must see: the best known Gaudí building in Barcelona, the still unfinished Sagrada Familia, though it's supposed to be finished in 2026 (see this video if you can't wait that long!). If you want to go inside, note that it costs a minimum €15 (and book online if you want to do that) but is definitely not something to be missed (16.00). See also some of the cool pictures to be found on the official Sagrada Familia Instagram feed.

Join us in Ground Floor Reception, by the front door at 16.30.

Come and explore Barcelona's barrios with us

Street art in Poble Nou, artist unknown | Photo: Tom Walton

We have a couple of Barcelona's less touristy barrios for you on our social programme this week. Come with us and explore!

  • Tuesday 14th | Today's trip takes us into the barrio of Poble Nou, which is home to the iconic Torre Agbar, the nightclub Razzmatazz and some of Barcelona's best street art. (especially if you get as far as the barrio of Sant Martí). But come along with us and discover a whole lot more about one of the city's most interesting, most genuine barrios.
  • Wednesday 15th | 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 16th | It's festa major time already — at least it is in the district of Sant Antoni, another of Barcelona's more interesting, less hyped ones. The Market dates back to 1882, the work of the architect Antoni Rovira i Trias, and has just reopened after extensive restoration work. This article in El Periódico gives you a taste of the kind of stall you'll find there. Note also the second hand book fair that is held every Sunday. If you want to know more, try Wikipedia or the market's official website — or why not just come along with us?

Join us in Ground Floor Reception, by the front door at 16.30.

Also this week | Spanish League, Barça vs Granada (Sunday, kick-off 21.00).