ART, CULTURE and ARCHITECTURE. – Cultural Tourism
04 Feb 2021

ART, CULTURE and ARCHITECTURE. – Cultural Tourism

Cultural Tourism wants to vindicate the role of culture

Culture is what makes each people unique.

Discovering the multiple cultural expressions of a territory is what differentiates one trip from another.

The aim is to give more value to all the cultural heritage, both the most internationally recognised

as well as the local one and the one that goes unnoticed. Thus, it is recognised that cultural heritage is spread throughout the country and a balance is sought between the different territories of Catalonia, to ensure that the economic flows derived from cultural tourism reach everywhere and at all times of the year.

Catalonia, a CULTURAL TOURISM destination

The cultural possibilities of Catalonia are varied and allow us to follow the traces from Neanderthal man to the present day, passing through the times of the Iberians, the Greeks and the Romans, as well as the different architectural styles, until we reach the present day, when renowned architects have become symbols of the new Barcelona that is seeking a place in the world. To all this must be added a series of routes consolidated as tourist attractions such as the Camí de Sant Jaume (the Catalan section of the Way of St James), the Ruta del Císter/Cistercian Route or the various itineraries linked to cultural, industrial and religious heritage, such as the Ignatian Way. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the inexhaustible offer of the great city of Barcelona or the cities with character such as Tarragona, Girona or Lleida (all of them connected by AVE) or  Reus, Terrassa, Tortosa, Vic and Vilafranca del Penedèsideal for urban tourism and combining cultural interest with numerous leisure activities, without forgetting the world-renowned gastronomic and wine offerings.

In its particular case, Barcelona stands out as a Mediterranean and cosmopolitan city that integrates in its urban layout Roman remains, medieval quarters and the most beautiful examples of Modernism and the avant-garde of the 20th century. It is not in vain that UNESCO has declared emblematic buildings by the Catalan architects Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Doménech i Montaner World Heritage Sites. In addition, its extensive cultural agenda allows you to enjoy exhibitions and a full programme of music, theatre and dance.

Barcelona’s museums are home to famous artists such as Picasso, Miró, Tàpies and Gaudí, all of whose work is on display in the city’s museums. Pieces of art from all periods are kept in the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat, the Museu d´Història de Catalunya, el Museu d´Art Modern and the Museu d´Art Contemporani (MACBA). Many other institutions make avant-garde art accessible to everyone through permanent and temporary exhibitions. The  Centre de Cultura Contemporànea de Barcelona (CCCB) and CaixaForum are some of them.

There are also other distinctive cultural signs such as the literary “noucentisme” of Josep Carner or Eugeni d’Ors, exponents of music and painting such as Pau Casals, Joan Miró or Salvador Dalí and outstanding writers and poets such as Mercè Rodoreda or Josep Pla who have managed to consolidate musical, literary or even theatrical proposals that have endured over time.

ARCHITECTURE. – Castles, monasteries, churches and stately homes. Contemporary architecture.

It is through architecture and culture that we learn about the history of a territory. In Catalonia, different buildings and constructions stand out as part of its identity heritage. Architecture has left its mark since the Neolithic period and has modified the landscape, leaving constructions that speak of other times. The Iberian site of Ullastret on the Costa Brava, the ruins of Empúries and the prehistoric paintings of the Serra de Godall in Ulldecona (Terres de l’Ebre) are some of the most outstanding examples.

Castles and Fortifications – Staying in a medieval castle or visiting a defence tower are options open to the public. Local tourism, due to mobility restrictions, allows visitors to get to know in detail the different options available in the territory. Peralada is one of the fortifications that were built in Catalonia in border territories that had to be defended. This is the case of castles such  as Miravet

(on the final stretch of the Ebro river) or the numerous border castles in the province of Lleida. Some were eventually converted into homes, others became hotels and many can still be visited, such as the Castell de Montsonís. The flag flies from the keep, indicating that the castle is still inhabited and that some of the rooms cannot be visited.

Monasteries, Churches and Sanctuaries. – Religious buildings have always had a clear desire to represent the power of the church. Romanesque bell towers are a sign of identity. The ensemble of the Boí Valley, in the Pyrenees, stands out. Nine churches declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2000. Romanesque constructions, however, are spread throughout the territory. The monasteries of Sant Pere de Rodes and Santa María de Ripoll. There are also others that bear witness to the transition from Romanesque to Gothic. Very well-preserved monasteries are those on the Cistercian Route, such as the Monastery of Santes Creus, Santa Maria de Poblet or Vallbona de les Monges on the renowned Cistercian Route. Other monasteries and sanctuaries can also be visited by following the Domus Templi, route, which takes us to Lleida to see the Gardeny complex, and also to Miravet and Tortosa.

Stately homes and Contemporary Architecture. – Barcelona, Reus, Terrassa and Mataró are some of the cities where you can admire houses designed by modernist architects, although there are also other towns, especially on the coast, where there are a good number of unique buildings scattered throughout the city. In Barcelona, the work of the architect Antoni Gaudí stands out in particular, but there are also other outstanding works that radically changed the Catalan landscape, such as the textile colonies, and which are included in the catalogue of the “Industrial Tourism Network”. Contemporary architecture includes works such as the Contemporary Culture Centre, the Glòries Tower and the Diseny Hub Barcelona, which projects its overhangs and façade onto Plaça de les Glòries, some examples of avant-garde architecture in Barcelona. But not all the examples are to be found in Barcelona. In La Jonquera, the architects Rafael Cáceres and Philippe Pous designed the Exile Museum. In Olot, the avant-garde cuisine based on local produce at the Les Cols restaurant in Olot was perfectly matched by the architecture of Ramon Vilalta, Carme Pigem and Rafael Aranda’s architectural studio (RCR). In 2017, RCR won the Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious architecture award on the planet.

In the current situation, with mobility restrictions, it is not possible to make a complete tour of the territory, but in the squares and cities we can find a great diversity of architectural, artistic and cultural icons to visit. This is proximity tourism.