Beyond those attractions, Barcelona’s history has long been part of its appeal. Its Gothic Quarter, Europe's best-preserved medieval area, dates back to 27 B.C. and the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus.
The preserved historic center houses thirteenth-century Barcelona Cathedral, the royal palace where Columbus had his initial audience with Ferdinand and Isabella, and civil and cultural institutions that include the Picasso Museum. Joan Miró and Salvador Dali, born in Catalonia, also reflect the passion, creativity, and intellect of the Catalan spirit.
Yet it is the bold Art Nouveau works native son Antonio Gaudí constructed a century ago that give the city its inimitable profile. From the neo-Gothic Palau Güell in Las Ramblas, the city’s famous promenade, to the epic, sinuous, yet-unfinished Sagrada Familia that can be seen for miles, Gaudí’s artistry is synonymous with Barcelona.
Honeymoon couples can savor twenty-first century Barcelona in tapas restaurants where cava—Catalonia’s sparkling wine—flows, and along the city’s exciting new waterfront.
Montjuïc, one of Barcelona’s famous hills, has been transformed into a popular destination thanks to distinctive museums—including the National Museum of Catalan Art and Fundació Joan Miró—plus numerous galleries, nightclubs, an open-air theatre, parkland, and the stadium and sports facilities built for the 1992 Olympics. Visitors can even see Mies van der Rohe’s original Barcelona chair on display in a replica of the architect’s eponymous pavilion from the 1929 International Exhibition.
Sophisticated Barcelona welcomes honeymoon couples at outstanding hotels that include the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, the resort-like Gran Hotel La Florida (check rates now), which first opened in 1925 and underwent a $42-million transformation a few years ago; the luxurious and modern Hotel Majestic (check rates now) in the best part of the city, and Arts Ritz-Carlton (check rates now), boasting panoramic views of the city and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea beyond.