Whether you’re here for an engagement, elopement or destination wedding, nothing spoils a romantic getaway like hordes of tourists at every step. We’ve compiled a list of 5 places that the guide books don’t tell you about, where you can get the best of Barcelona – without the crowds.
Joan Fontcuberta’s Kiss Mural
Plaça d’Isidre Nonel
In the heart of the Gothic quarter, tucked into a romantic plaza, you can find an enormous mural of two lip-locked lover. El món neix en cada besada (“The World Begins With Every Kiss”) is a photo mosaic mural made up of more than 4000 pictures printed on ceramic tiles. It was was designed by Barcelona artist, Joan Fontcuberta. He asked local residents to participate by sending in a photo that captured a moment of freedom, and then incorporated these photos to create his masterpiece.
Beneath the mural is a quote from the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The sound of a kiss is not as loud as that of a canon, but it’s echo lasts a great deal longer.”
A great place to take a photo of you and your beloved!
Rossend Arús Masonic Library
Passeig de Sant Joan, 26
Step back into time and head to this once-secret Masonic home and meeting ground. Miraculously surviving Franco’s rule until 1975, it was converted into a library which nowadays houses an impressive collection of books and manuscripts, including many cult and anarchist texts.
Located just a short walk away from Arc de Triomf, it is located on Passeig Sant Joan, named after the patron saint of the Freemasons, Saint John. You can visit parts of the library free of charge and poke around a little bit. And If you’re interested in learning more about Barcelona’s long and complicated history with Freemasonry, you can book a guided tour, which allows you to access all parts of the library and deciphers some of the mysticism behind it.
Jardins de Ca n’Altimira
Carrer de Maó, 13
Following the theme of freemasonry, our next stop is the Ca n’Altimira Gardens, in the Sant Gervasi neighborhood. Once home of the eccentric billionaire Josep Altimira, who was known to rub elbows with Freemasons, it is supposed that the gardens once occupied a much larger area than they do now. There are rumours of Altimira keeping orangutans, throwing lavish parties and tunneling out underground grottoes leading to his private estate.
Nowadays the gardens are much more humble than in their heyday, but they still an incredibly pretty and oft-forgotten green space in Barcelona definitely worth visiting. There are several bridges connecting parts of the property, as well as grand hall hoisted by 36 enormous Romanesque columns, making for some romantic photo opportunities.
Frederic Marès Museum
Plaça Sant Iu, 5
This endlessly fascinating museum houses the private collections of the namesake sculptor. In addition to the sculptures he amassed during his lifetime there are also vast collections of many more eclectic items. Spend hours exploring eclectic collections of anything you can imagine – stamps, watches, fans, pipes, jewellery, and even art made of human hair. And to think this was all one man’s personal collection!
A great activity if you get rained out – a rare occurrence here in Barcelona, but something to plan for nonetheless. And if you visit on a sunny day, you can enjoy a relaxing break in the picturesque courtyard, where they have a café open in the warmer months. Located just next to the famous Gothic Cathedral, it’s definitely worth a visit
Mercury Fountain at the Joan Miró Foundation
You’ll undoubtedly visit one of the city’s many museums during your visit, but if the seemingly endless lines at the Picasso Museum aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of other great options. If you make the trek up the scenic Montjuïc mountain (also easily accessible by funicular), head to the Joan Miró Foundation afterwards for some art and culture. The museum not only houses an immense collection of the Miró’s works but also many pieces from other contemporary artists.
Most fascinating, however, is Alexander Calder’s ‘Mercury Fountain.’ Alongside with Picasso’s ‘Guernica,’ these works were commissioned for the 1937 World Exhibition in Paris. At the time, Spain supplied 60% of the world’s mercury and Calder paid homage by creating this stunning liquid metal art fountain, where quicksilver flows instead of water. Word has it that the museum’s caretaker has to wear what is essentially a spacesuit to clean the exhibition, because of how toxic mercury is to humans!