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.

Picasso's Barcelona on this week's social programme

Josep Llimona, Desconsuelo | Photo: Tom Walton

Desconsuelo, statue by Josep Llimona in the Parque de la Ciudadela | Photo: Tom Walton

Our social programme this week. Note that you need to reserve you place for the trip on Wednesday — before 16.00 on Tuesday! Do come along, it's great extra practice for your Spanish.

  • Monday 11th | National holiday in Catalonia (and what was all that about?), school closed
  • Tuesday 12th | 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 13th | This afternoon we'll be visiting the Parlament de Catalunya. Ironically housed in what was originally the arsenal of the fortress built to dominate the city after the 1713-14 siege, the building itself is lovely, the visit an interesting one also to discover how the Parlament works. The trip also takes us into the Parque de la Ciudadela, one of Barcelona's nicest parks (16.00).
  • Thursday 14th | 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).
  • Friday 15th | 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.

Also this week | Champions, Barça vs Juventus (Tuesday, kick-off 21.00).

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).

Barcelona's art and architecture on this week's social programme

Santa Maria del Mar

Santa Maria del Mar, the protagonist of a novel | Photo: Tom Walton

You couldn't come to Barcelona and only want to see the football, could you? For the amazing art and architecture, check out what we have on our social programme this week:

  • Tuesday 29th | Apart from Sagrada Familia (see Thursday), the city has a number of other lovely churches. Come with us today to see the Joyas del Gótico, the "Gothic jewels" of Barcelona — the Cathedral and the wonderful churches of Santa María del Pí and Santa María del Mar, the latter the subject of a book we always recommend, La Catedral del Mar (16.00).
  • Wednesday 30th | 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. Wonderful if art's your thing; possibly a bit dull if you're something of a philistine (16.00).
  • Thursday 31st | One you just must see: the best known Gaudí building in Barcelona, the still unfinished Sagrada Familia, though it's supposed to be completd 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.
  • Friday 1st | You've got to start your Barcelona weekend somewhere. Why not start it with us at our Friday Club language exchange, where you can practise all the languages you know? 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.