Intro to Barcelona Walk
Activity: Barcelona City Walk. Metro Stop: Placa del Catalunya. Cost: Free. Hours: Anytime, if you want to tour the cathedral, it’s open until 5.
One of our favorite ways to get oriented to a city is to do a walking tour. Our favorite guide of all time is Rick Steves. He has a TON of walking tours you can download and store in his app. We usually download them before we go so we don’t get stuck trying to stream with bad Wifi. We put our kid in the stroller, share a set of Airpods and go! We rarely do the whole walk at once, but usually take breaks to let the kids run around. Sometimes we will listen to the whole thing before we go and just follow the map to find the places he’s talking about.
This particular walk starts in Placa del Catalunya, takes you down part of Las Ramblas and then winds you around to see The Barcelona Cathedral (includes a tour of the Barcelona Cathedral if desired) and finishes in the government square.
In case you don’t end up doing the walk, let me sum up a tiny bit about Barcelona and Catalunya as I understand it. Though other countries see Spain as one big country with Madrid as the capital, the reality is that Spainards think of themselves as separated into four different countries. There’s Catalunya (eastern Spain), Andalucia (southern Spain), The Basque Country (northern Spain), and Galicia (northwestern Spain which has a lot of Celtic/Irish ties and even some castles!).
Catalunya has its own language (Catalan) and its own storied history. Here’s a brief summary: There was a dictator named Franco who ruled for 40 years. He was all about unifying Spain and even went as far to forbid much of Catalan culture and language. He died in 1975 at which time there was a resurgence of Catalan culture. Now, you’ll see Catalan, Spanish, and English language settings on the ATMS. Though you can get by speaking Spanish, Catalan is the main language in this area.
Have you noticed the flags hanging around? There are a few different versions. The one with the blue triangle and star and the red and yellow stripes represent Catalunya separatists. They want Barcelona and the surrounding regions to be self-governing and completely separate from Spain. The design of the flag is heavily influenced by Cuba because they managed to completely separate themselves from Spain. The flag with just yellow and red stripes is the Catalunya regional flag. People who display this are showing their pride for their region. Finally, there is the Spanish flag with two big red stripes and one yellow stripe which flies from government buildings and from balconies of those who want Spain to stay one big country. Only time will tell whether or not the Catalan separatists get their wish.