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Category: Barcelona

Barcelona Museums

Barcelona is a city of culture. City museums received more than 4.5 million annual visitors in the latest years, according to Barcelona’s Culture Institute. We review some of the most interesting museums in the city.

National Museum of Catalan Art 

Montjuïc National Palace is one of the iconic buildings built for the occasion of the International Exhibition of 1929 and it’s the current headquarters of the National Museum of Catalan Art. Sculptures, paintings, drawings, prints, posters, photography, etc. They shape into one of the most complete collections of Medieval, Roman and Modern Catalan art. MNAC is located at the bottom of Montjuïc Mountain, a privileged environment from where to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the city, as well as Montjuic’s fountains show.

Barcelona

Joan Miró Foundation 

Joan Miró Foundation is located 10 minutes away from MNAC and in the heart of the Montjuic Park. Set in the beautiful building from the architect Josep Lluís Sert, it’s the most important Joan Miró public collection. There are more than 10,000 pieces including paintings, sculptures, tapestries, drawings and sketches that allow us to understand and admire this artist, considered one of the greatest surrealism representatives.

"I never dream when I sleep, I do dream when I'm awake." Joan Miró

Barcelona Miró Foundation

Picasso Museum

More than 4,200 works compile the most complete collection worldwide of Picasso's youth works. Opening in 1963, the museum reveals the Andalusian artist's link with Barcelona. Works are arranged in chronological order inside 5 Catalan gothic civil style palaces(13th and 14th centuries): Exceptional content and continent for one of the most important museums in the city, located in the picturesque Born District, only 5 minutes away from the Mercer Barcelona.

"Art is the lie that allows us to understand the truth." Pablo Picasso

Barcelona Picasso Museum

Barcelona History Museum 

The “Plaça del Rei” (King’s Square) Monumental Complex -next to which the Mercer Barcelona is located- is the main headquarters of the Barcelona History Museum (MUHBA) dedicated to the city's historical heritage spread. The Gothic Quarter underground has an impressive archaeological tour, whose remains include the Roman Barcino (1st century BC), the Visogothic Barchinona (7th century) and the Medieval Barcelona (13th century), with streets, villas or oil and wine warehouses, among others.

Barcelona Plaça del Rei

MACBA & CCCB

The spectacular MACBA and CCCB buildings are located right in the city center, only 15 minutes walking from the Mercer Barcelona. The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art or MACBA (1995) occupies the American architect Richard Meier extraordinary building at ‘Plaça dels Àngels’ (Angels Square) also known as a skaters meeting point. Contemporary creation and artistic debate are articulated through visual arts, performance, dance, cinema, music or events. The Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona or CCCB (1994), which occupies part of the ancient ‘Casa de la Caritat’ (Charity House), is a multidisciplinary institution with exhibitions, debates, festivals, concerts, cinema, courses or workshops programs around the urban phenomenon from all points of view and all cultural disciplines.

Barcelona MACBA & CCCB

Barcelona Maritime Museum 

For centuries, Barcelona history is linked to the sea, the navigation and the maritime culture. The Maritime Museum (MMB) is located the ancient Barcelona Royal Shipyards (‘Drassanes’) used for shipbuilding between the 13th and 18th centuries, being one of the most important monuments of Civil Gothic style for industrial usage. After visiting the museum, visitors can take a walk from the Rambla to the Columbus Statue and the ‘Port Vell’ (Old Harbour).

Barcelona Maritime Museum

Chef Xavier Lahuerta returns to Mercer Barcelona kitchen

When Jean Luc Figueras -Executive Chef of the Mercer Barcelona- passed away in 2014, Chef Xavier Lahuerta (Barcelona, 1975) takes over the gastronomic direction of the Hotel, succeeding one of his mentors for over a year. Then, Lahuerta decides to embark on a new stage of gastronomic exploration. Now he returns to the Mercer with a new look.


Let's move to your origins. Tell us about your first influences...

Throughout my childhood I saw my two grandmothers work in the kitchen. This made that at the age of 16 I clearly knew what my profession would be. My grandmothers knowledge and passion were the starting points.

How was your career?

My generation has been behind the Michelin starred Chefs with the goal to learn from them while working on their projects. In my case, I worked in some of the best restaurants of Catalan cuisine for 20 years, with great teachers like Xavier Pellicer, Santi Santamaria, Carles Gaig, Ferran Adrià, Carles Abellán and the unfortunately deceased Jean Luc Figueras, with whom I started working at the age of 17. During this time, I was Sous Chef, Chef or Executive Chef at El Bulli, Can Fabes, Abac, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Projectes 24, Rocamador, Grupo Azafrán, El Cercle or New Paradis.

Chef Xavier Lahuerta at the Mercer Barcelona

Then came a professional turning point...

During this first professional period I was developing signature cuisine, Catalan cuisine with French influences following the trail of these great chefs with whom I had the pleasure to collaborate. But there was a time when I decided to stop, reflect on a new mindset and expand my horizons. I think it’s highly recommended, if not essential, to stop and observe. During this time, I made several trips in which I learned new aspects of gastronomy that have allowed me to renew my kitchen, making great quality leap.

What world cuisines have influenced you the most during these trips?

I have traveled a lot to Mexico. For example, in the Mercer Restaurant menu, one of the entrees is the violet roasted carrot that we serve with “poblano mole”. It’s an example of the Mexican cuisine touches in my cookbook. I am also fascinated by the Asian gastronomy, I use several Asian ingredients and techniques, such as the croaker in sashimi also included in the current Mercer menu.

You are an intuitive chef...

Yes, I am a restless, dynamic and intuitive person. In my opinion, it’s necessary to leave the comfort zone, go beyond, expand the limits, be an entrepreneur and bet on new challenges and projects. I try to leave my mark of quality in our gastronomy, being authentic and connecting with people. In this sense, I was recently named as the culinary order member by the "Chaîne des Rôtisseurs" (oldest gastronomic association in the world).

Chef Xavier Lahuerta at the Mercer Barcelona Restaurant

What does it mean for you to return to the Mercer Barcelona kitchen?

Returning to the Mercer is like coming back home. I’m taking the challenge of being in the Barcelona Gothic Quarter with excitement, in a historical building shaped in part of the old Barcino Roman wall, a space with a strong personality and a great reputation in the city. I was one the moments that had made the chef I am today, I am delighted to return and develop my project here.

Mercer Restaurant Barcelona

How would you define your gastronomic proposal at the Mercer?

We offer a combination of traditional recipes with avant-garde techniques and local high quality products. In the Mercer Restaurant menu, we take care of dishes balance, based on few ingredients and well prepared. This are natural and healthy proposals for make our dinners live an emotional experience.

Chef Xavier Lahuerta gastronomy at the Mercer Barcelona Restaurant

A gastronomic memory

I remember the feeling of enjoying eating in a restaurant and not leaving the table trying not to lose any detail, like a stage play.

Your favorite dish

It is difficult to choose a dish when my greatest pleasure is to enjoy eating! But to say one, it would be a dish that brings me knowledge and reflection, feeling and passion, especially that one which makes me feel alive. My favorite dish is “the land and the sea”.

Your favorite restaurant

Many, not only one! It’s hard to choose only a restaurant due to the infinite offer that exists nowadays. Depending on the moment and with whom you share it. But a classic that never fails is “Casa Alfonso”, a restaurant opened since 1934 in Barcelona.

An unavoidable ingredient in your kitchen

Quality is the ingredient in our kitchen must always have, not only from products but also the human asset to feel and work with them.



Mercer Restaurant

Calle dels Lledó, 7. 08002 Barcelona

Reservations: Tel. +34 93 310 74 80 · Email: restaurante@mercerbarcelona.com

Mamen Bonet, Pastry Chef at the Mercer Barcelona

We interview Mamen Bonet, Pastry Chef at the Mercer Hotel Barcelona who creates the treats that surprise our guests every morning...


Bringing together the tangible with the intangible to transform the stay of each guest into an unforgettable experience: This is the philosophy of Mercer Hoteles. In this sense, the Mercer Barcelona pays special attention to the breakfast service where every detail is taken care of to make each morning a gift for the senses.

Mercer Barcelona


Breakfast is served daily from 7.30-11.00am in the unique setting of the Mercer Restaurant, with part of the original Roman wall of the ancient Barcino city as a backdrop. In spring and summer seasons, guests can also enjoy breakfast at the Orange Tree Courtyard, an oasis of absolute tranquility in the heart of the Gothic Quarter.

Mercer Barcelona


Mamen Bonet (Barcelona, 1985), Pastry Chef at Mercer Barcelona, is in charge of the 5-star hotel gourmet breakfasts. Since she joined the Mercer's kitchen, this young baker has added a series of delicious novelties to the breakfast buffet: An assortment of small pieces of art -both sweet and savory- freshly made every morning to make guests fall in love. Mamen is a discreet professional who prefers her creations to speak for herself. Her key principle is "work, work and humility". We chatted with her to discover the sweetest details of Mercer Barcelona.


Why did you decide to work in pastry?

Actually, it was like “to let myself flow". When I was studying Fine Arts, I realized that I wanted to be a cook, so I studied Hospitality and Pastry at the Hofmann School in Barcelona where I lay the foundations of everything I currently know.

Mamen, tell us a bit about your trajectory until you reached Mercer Hoteles...

While I was still, studying at Hofmann School, I did two stages: At Mugaritz and Celler de Can Roca. After that, when I finished my studies, I went to Akelarre again as a stagier. At this point I realized that I wanted to specialize in pastry... First I did an internship in the Dolç Pastry from Yann Duytsche and from there I went to work in several bakeries like Melissa (Athens), Pomme Sucre (Gijón), Moulin Chocolat (Madrid) or Baluard (Barcelona).

How would you describe your profession?

It is often said that pastry is the sweet and measured version of cooking. For me it’s also "a bottomless pit" of tests, knowledge and amusement. Actually, it’s magical to be able to make clients happy or surprise them through your work and the pastry is often associated with happy moments...

Mercer Barcelona

What are your creations at the Mercer Barcelona based on?

I’m basically inspired by the classic pastry cookbook, as well as recipes from my previous experiences that seems delicious to me and from creations of other pastry chefs who share their work in books or social media. And I also like to investigate on my own and try new ideas.

What attributes should have a good pastry chef?

A good pastry chef must have the same characteristics as a good cook: He/she must be disciplined, orderly, responsible and a good colleague. In addition to this, I think it's important to be curious and to learn a bit more each day.

Mercer Barcelona


What do you like most about your job?

I love working with doughs and chocolate (of course!), making fruit tartlets and petit fours. All my elaborations are handmade as pralines, chocolates, brioches... I like to have time to fuss over everything I do. I try to pay attention to details so that guests have a good memory of sweet moments at the hotel. 

What are your favorite ingredients?

I love working with good raw materials. I really enjoy working with chocolate (I also love to eat it!) and all its utilities or subtleties. I am also a fruit lover (such as raspberries, pineapple or apricot) and nuts (especially hazelnut and pistachio).

What do you think a good dessert should contain?

Balance and sobriety, especially in sugars, fats and jellies use.

What is the essential utensil in your work?

In pastry there are many indispensable utensils, but I think that brain, hands and a good oven are primary...

Mercer Barcelona

A cake...

I like the coulant and a good strawberry cake!

Recommend us a patisserie...

The bakery where I learned: Hofmann!

Cod fritters by Le Bouchon, enjoy our homemade recipe

Discover the cod fritters recipe by Le Bouchon, the Mercer Hotel Barcelona gastrobar specialized in tapas and local dishes.


Located on a quiet street in the historical Barcelona Gothic Quarter, Le Bouchon is the gastrobar of Hotel Mercer, nestled in part of the old Barcino Roman wall: A unique location right in the heart of Barcelona.

Le Bouchon

It’s a local restaurant opened not only to hotel guests but also to any visitor wishing to spend a nice gastronomic time: Whether enjoying an appetizer or an informal lunch or sharing a diner with a nice bottle of wine.

Le Bouchon

The menu offers some canned appetizers from La Cala Albert Adrià, cold meats and cheeses, as well as a variety of homemade dishes, perfect to accompany by a glass of wine from some of the main national appellations.

Le Bouchon

“Bravas” spicy potatoes, croquettes, crunchy chicken nuggets, Andalusian style squid, fried peppers from Padrón, cod omelet, eggs with Iberian ham or meatballs with cuttlefish, among other typical dishes, can be enjoyed in an informal and relaxed atmosphere.

Le Bouchon

Among Le Bouchon tapas and dishes, today we introduce the delicious cod fritters with roasted garlic dressing (“allioli”): Made with wild cod from Iceland ('Gadus Morhua' from Perelló 1898), they are crispy on the outside, spongy on the inside and served with a special sauce. 

We share our recipe to encourage you to make them at home!

SEE RECIPE


Gastrobar Le Bouchon
Monday to Sunday, 12.30 - 16.00h and 18.30 - 23.00h
Calle dels Lledó, 7
08002 Barcelona (Spain) 
Tel. +34 93 310 74 80

Gaudí and Barcelona

"There's no reason not to try something new just because nobody has tried it before." Antoni Gaudí

After the industrial revolution and its technological improvements, Barcelona experiences an important economic and urban development. By the end of the 19th century, it’s a renewed and wealthy city, where young architects find the perfect setting to develop new, free, personal and creative expression forms: A legacy of more than 100 modernist buildings, among which those of Antoni Gaudí (Reus 1852 – Barcelona 1926), innovative architect and standard of Catalan Modernism.


ANTONI GAUDÍ, LIFE AND WORK

Antoni Gaudí was born in a family of artisans (boilermakers), in Riudoms (a small town in the province of Tarragona), until he moved to Barcelona to study architecture. He collaborated with several architects of the time to finance his studies and soon developed his first solo projects, such as the lampposts of the Plaza Real.

"I do not know if we have given the title to a madman or to a genius, only time will tell." Elies Rogent, Director of the Barcelona Architecture School (1878)


“VICENS” HOUSE

The Vicens family -which owns a ceramic factory- commissioned its second residence refurbishment to a newly licensed Gaudí. That was the architect first building in Barcelona (1878) and he already showed his creative freedom and his personal contribution to the aesthetic renovation. Considered an advance of Catalan Modernism, the “Vicens House” opened to the public in 2017. 

“GÜELL” PALACE

In 1886 Gaudí received the first important commission of his career. Count Güell -entrepreneur, member of one of the most influent families in Barcelona and Gaudí’s admirer, friend and sponsor- requested him the construction of his new house near La Rambla. Gaudí designed an ultimate palace in all aspects (space, light, volume, ornamentation and symbolism that he would develop in his following works).


“GÜELL” PARK

Again Güell relied on Gaudí to design a residential area for wealthy families in the land acquired by the entrepreneur on Barcelona outskirts(1900). The complex had to have around 60 homes in an immense garden with panoramic views, but the project failed due to its location far from the Eixample (the bourgeoisie trendy district). Despite this, it quickly becomes popular among Barcelona people, who visit the park for social events. After Count Güell death (1918) his heritors sold it to the city council to convert it into a public park. Park Güell reflects Gaudí’s naturalistic period: Architecture and nature are integrated in more than 17 hectares, with wavy, colorful and symbolic forms. 

“Everything comes out of the great book of nature” Antoni Gaudí

At the beginning of the 20th century, Gaudí has a great recognition among the Barcelona bourgeoisie and his continuous works are real apartments for the Calvet, Batlló or Milà families.


“BATLLÓ” HOUSE

Textile entrepreneur Josep Batlló acquires a sober building in Passeig de Gràcia and orders its refurbishment (1904) to the architect of the moment. Gaudí creates a family house of 8 floors, cheerful and colorful, with wavy forms and blue tones, and with a spectacular façade with balconies. Impressed by Gaudí’s work, Batlló recommended him to a friend, for whom Gaudí would eventually build the Casa Milà (1906).


“MILÀ” HOUSE 

The Milà well-off family wanted to express its position by building an innovative, luxurious and large-scale housing building on the site acquired in the trendy Passeig de Gràcia Street. Again, Gaudí is inspired by nature to design slightest detail of this unique building impossible to summarize. Administrative problems with the city council and divergences with the Milà family delayed the work, but didn’t stop the architect to express his artistic maturity. 


SAGRADA FAMILIA

In spite of everything, the most complex work of his career and in which he invests 43 years of work (especially at the end of his career) is the Sagrada Familia. In 1883 Gaudí was appointed architect of the Sagrada Familia expiatory temple. He assumes and redesigns the project started by another architect, making it much more ambitious. Due to his deep religious beliefs, the architect aims to create the perfect temple. 

“People from all over the world will come to see what we are doing” Antoni Gaudí

The Sagrada Familia is revolutionary in many ways, such as its structure, height, the constructive resources employed and its symbolism. It represents the artistic fullness of the architect, his naturalistic period culmination and the synthesis of all his previous works.

This temple is a Barcelona sign of identity and the Modernist architecture greatest exponent, world-wide recognized. Based on the Gaudí original plans, its completion is planned for 2026 coinciding with the centenary of the architect death. 


In 1926, a tram runned over him in Barcelona accidentally. Initially, passersby were confused thinking he was a vagabond (at 73 years of age, he has an austere life fully devoted to religion and his work), although days later the city pays homage to him in a multitudinous funeral. His crypt is located in the Sagrada Familia, the temple to which he dedicated his life.

Pioneer of the artistic avant-gardes of the 20th century, this genius is one of the most studied and admired figures of architecture of all times. Seven of Gaudí's works have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In the 21st century, Barcelona can’t be conceived without the legacy of its most universal architect.

Mercer Hoteles Guest Relations Team

We interview the Guest Relations Managers regarding the customer service at Mercer Hoteles

MERCER PHILOSOPHY

Location, architecture, design, gastronomy and above all, the excellence of a service exclusively focused on exceeding our guest highest expectations. Mercer Hoteles takes care of the smallest detail to turn each guest stay into a memorable experience: A way of understanding customer service by which Mercer Barcelona and Mercer Sevilla have become a luxury hospitality reference in both cities.

Mercer Barcelona
GUEST RELATIONS, GENUINE DESIRE TO SERVE OUR CUSTOMERS

Joan Manel Salamanca and Javier García are Head Concierges of Mercer Barcelona and Mercer Sevilla respectively. Both are professionals with large experience as Guest Relations and “Les Clefs d'Or” members (International Association of Hospitality Concierges). 


What does the Mercer Service consists of?

JOAN MANEL (JM): The Guest Relations department manages any requirements (legal and reasonable) that the guest has before, during and / or after their stay at the Mercer. This global and expert service is one of the main Mercer philosophy pillars. We give a close, professional and trustworthy service for guests to enjoy a relaxed and memorable stay. 

Mercer Barcelona


Do we find the same level of service in all Mercer 5*GL hotels?

JAVIER (JG): Of course! Both at Mercer Barcelona and at Mercer Sevilla, guests will find the same service standards. Being boutique hotels with few rooms, we have the opportunity to provide a completely personalized service. Not only Guest Relations but all departments are focused on offering excellence.


How does the Guest Relations Department work?

JG: We contact the clients before their arrival because many times they need prior attention, as a private car, a restaurant reservation or tickets to a monument or show in the city. On the first day of the stay, we introduce ourselves personally for whatever they may need. And after the departure, we keep in touch with many guests...

Mercer Sevilla

What do you do to keep up to date with the city latest news? 

JG: We love our city and we are interested in everything that happens there. And obviously, we have our information sources got over the years (friends, colleagues or contacts).

JM: I agree with Javier. We try to have a wide network of professional contacts, plus the information we get from press, blogs, Social Media and “Les Clefs d’Or” Association.


Tell us about a special moment or a curious story...

JM: An important achievement is that guests remember us. For example, last Christmas I received a postcard from guests from USA who remembered us even several months after their stay... and invited me to visit them. This is a very special detail!

JG: From my side, during the last “Feria de Abril” (April Fair), I met by chance a couple who where staying at the hotel (a little disoriented) and took them to my private stand, to eat ham, drink wine and even dance some “sevillanas”.


What is it like working with guests at a 5*GL boutique hotel?

JG: The Mercer Hoteles team reason to be is the client total satisfaction. In this sense, our main goal goes beyond fulfilling their demands. Our purpose is to exceed their expectations, surprise them, make them “fall in love” or make them feel at home, perceiving they have a "friend" or "allied" in the city, willing to support them during their visit. And all this, with a professional, unpretentious, sincere and discreet service.

JM: I think that guests who decide to stay at a boutique hotel are clients who expect a direct, calm and personal treatment from the hotel team. 

Mercer Sevilla

What is the best thing about dealing with guests?

JG: Dealing with guests is a task as demanding as rewarding. We love to see that guests are happy when they leave the hotel, because they enjoyed their visit. It’s also nice to read guests reviews on TripAdvisor, of course, customers who appreciate our work and recommend us to their friends and family. 

JM: Exactly, a customer who becomes a prescriber of our brand is a great reward. The best feeling is to check how some guests return to the hotel year after year. 


What do you like the most about your job?

JM: I like to share my city and make other people see it "through my eyes", by creating wonderful experiences.

JG: Definitely what I appreciate the most is the human touch and the multiculturalism.


OUR GUESTS REVIEWS ON TRIP ADVISOR
The best thing about the hotel? The incredible staff! [USA]
The only thing that could compete with the building is the staff: they were without exception first class in their attentiveness and helpfulness. [United Arab Emirates]
Even before our arrival at the Mercer we were contacted by Guest Relations with a request to personalize our stay. That was only the beginning of the incredible service we received at the Mercer. We've stayed at many five star hotels and his service is by far the best ever. [USA]
Some of the most accommodating, professional and service oriented personnel we've ever enjoyed! [USA]
Of all the boutique hotels we have stayed at many locations around the world, the Mercer is a standout high achiever. This reflects the professionalism and warmth that all the staff provided throughout our stay. The Mercer is a leader in luxury boutique hotels. [Australia]
Perhaps the best feature of all is the incredible staff. We could not have felt more welcomed and really missed some of their faces when we returned home. [USA]
Service and staff attitude is close to perfection: They give you the feel of the comfort of home but at the same time show the professionalism of a house of this category. [China]
Everything about this hotel was excellent except the staff which was superb. [Canada]
The staff is some of the best in the hospitality industry. [USA]
Don’t miss the secrets of El Born, Barcelona’s most trendy neighborhood...

El Born district -one of the Barcelona’s most cosmopolitan areas- is less than 5 minutes walking distance from the Mercer Barcelona. Monuments, palaces, museums, galleries, restaurants, terraces, shops, fashion and design: We find out some of its secrets.

Originally, this was a sailor and craftsman neighborhood of humble families settled outside the Barcelona’s wall. From the 13th century, aristocrats and merchants -enriched by maritime trade- settled their residences in beautiful palaces. The neighborhood became the city economic center until the 15th century. The 'Santa María del Mar' basilica construction (14th century) consolidates the Born identity.


THE 10 SECRETS OF THE BORN DISTRICT


1. Catalan Music Palace

Built for the 'Catalan choral group' by the architect Domènech i Montaner (1905) and defrayed by popular subscription, the 'Palau' became part of Barcelona's symbolic heritage and the city’s cultural and social life setting. Declared World Heritage (UNESCO), this impressive modernist building and its excellent acoustics are a reference in the international artistic scene.


2. Picasso Museum

More than 4,200 works form the most complete collection in the world of Picasso's youth works. Inaugurated in 1963, the museum reveals the artist's link with Barcelona. Works are shown in chronological order, along 5 palaces of Catalan civil gothic style (13th and 14th centuries): Exceptional content and continent for one of the most important museums in the city.



3. Santa Maria del Mar 

Built in only 55 years (14th century), it’s the only church in pure Catalan Gothic style. Known as the 'Cathedral of the people', the history of this Basilica is linked to the Born neighbors, who contributed to the construction of their basilica, with their own money and mostly with their work. For example, in their free time, dock unloaders ('bastaixos') used to load stones destined to the church from the 'Montjuïc' quarry, one by one. In fact, a tribute to this 'bastaixos' can be observed in the church main door.

Curiosity: The story of this wonderful basilica and the neighborhood was immortalized in the novel 'The Cathedral of the Sea' written by Ildefonso Falcones, whose book we recommend you to read.



4. Paseo del Born

Delimited by the old Born market (now the Born Cultural Center) and 'Santa Maria del Mar' Basilica, the promenade has 14th-century buildings, trendy terraces and bars, designer shops and a lively atmosphere. In medieval times it was tournaments and jousting of knights (which give the neighborhood its name), celebrations and fairs.



5. El Born Culture and Memory Center

This cultural space is integrated into the Born old market building (1876). Its exterior structure is an example of the iron architecture. Its interior houses an imposing archaeological site excellently preserved: A testimony of neighborhood life and city history, from Roman times to the early 18th century. Exhibitions and cultural activities take part in the offer of this singular center.



6. France Station

Inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII on the occasion of the International Exhibition (1929), this modern station needed to live up to the expectations of the first line that would connect Barcelona with France. The elegant lobby and the metallic structure of the routes (one of the main exponents of the modernist iron architecture in Barcelona) stand out.

Curiosity: This station has often been compared with the Parisian 'Gare d'Orsay'.



7. Citadel Park

At the end of the 19th century, due to the industrial development, the city demanded a large green space for public use. Built on the Citadel old fortress terrain, the park was inaugurated a few years before hosting the Universal Exposition (1888). Currently, in addition to its biodiversity, the Park stands out for its sculptures, waterfall, band-stand and buildings such as the old Citadel Arsenal (nowadays the Catalan Parliament headquarters), the Geology and Zoology museums, the Greenhouse and the Barcelona zoo.


8. Triumphal Arch

Built at the main entrance of the Universal Exhibition of 1888 (Citadel Park), this monument of 30 meters high and classical proportions symbolizes the respect of the city towards the nations participating in the Exhibition. The Triumphal Arch represents the gateway to Barcelona’s progress in the late 19th century.



9. 'Santa Caterina' Market

Built on the grounds of 'Santa Caterina' old convent, it was the first covered market in Barcelona (1848). In 2004 the market is refurbished by Miralles and Tagliablue architects. The current market stands out for its undulating roof and its mosaic inspired by Gaudí.

Curiosity: During the works, old convent archaeological remains appeared in the market subsoil.


10. And our Concierges advices!

Joan Manel Salamanca and Xavier Sanchís, Concierges of Mercer Barcelona and 'Les Clefs d'Or' members, are a city great connoisseurs. They reveal some of their favorite places in the Born distric:

“If you travel with children, we recommend you to visit the Chocolate Museum (Calle Comerç 36). If you want to relax, we suggest you to book a water circuit and a massage at 'Aire Barcelona' (Paseo Picasso 22). And if you fancy a real Barcelona aperitif, you should go to 'El Xampanyet' (Calle Montcada 22). But in any case, this historic district can be enjoyed simply by walking and discovering the medieval guilds of the street names. We especially like the 'Plaza de las Ollas' [Pots Square] where ancient kitchen utensils artisans were settled.”
Mercer Barcelona Concierges
A walk through La Rambla

Located just 8 minutes walking from Mercer Barcelona, La Rambla runs 1.2km: A pleasant tour from Plaça Catalunya to the sea. More than 78 million people a year stroll along the most famous street in the city.


"The street where the four seasons of the year live together, the only street on earth that I wish it would never end". [Federico García Lorca, Spanish poet]


HISTORY OF LA RAMBLA

The demolition of Barcelona walls which surrounded the city began in the 18th century. La Rambla (which for centuries was just a torrent of water to supply the city) is urbanized and transformed into a promenade in which the Catalan bourgeoisie built up beautiful palaces as their main residences. The locals turn La Rambla into the new main city axis, in which one could rent a chair and contemplate the spectacle of life.


POINTS OF INTEREST: LA RAMBLA FROM NORTH TO SOUTH

CANALETES FOUNTAIN

'Canaletes' refers to the waterway which supplied water to the city (15th century). The current fountain was created for the occasion of the Universal Exhibition (1888). According to the legend, whoever drinks water from this fountain is destined to return to Barcelona. Another peculiarity is that F.C. Barcelona supporters celebrate Barça’s victories around this fountain.

MOJA PALACE

This neoclassical style manor house was built in 1774 by the Marquis of Moja, where one of the entrance doors of medieval Barcelona used to be located. Declared Heritage of Cultural Interest, nowadays it’s the Catalan Heritage House.


PORTAFERRISSA

A public fountain of drinking water to supply the city was placed in one of the access doors to the fortified city (the 'Porta Ferriça' or Iron Gate) and it became very popular among the neighbors. Today, both the fountain and the street keep the name of the old door that was decorated with iron bars (unit of measure of the time). Nowadays on the ceramic tiles of the current fountain scenes from the everyday life of that time can still be seen.


LA BOQUERIA MARKET

From the 13rd century, merchants installed their stands in this location of La Rambla (they did it outside the walls to skip the goods entry tax to the city). The market opens in the 19th century on the emplacement of an old convent ('Sant Josep' or Saint Joseph). Nowadays it’s the largest local market in Catalonia with more than 200 merchants and one of the most emblematic points of the city.


BRUNO CUADROS HOUSE

Inspired by the modernist style that was beginning to be fashionable at that time, the architect Josep Vilaseca refurbished this building and the Bruno Cuadros umbrella store located on the ground floor in 1883. Also known as 'Umbrellas house' it brings an oriental touch to the eclectic Ramblas.


JOAN MIRÓ MOSAIC

Miró’s pavement was inaugurated in 1976 at 'La Boquería' Square on the Rambla. One of the main international abstract surrealism representatives, Joan Miró designed the mosaic as a greeting to travelers arriving by sea. The work has no protection and Rambla visitors walk daily on its pavement, expressly indicated by the artist.



LICEU THEATRE

The 'Liceu' is one of the most important opera houses in the world. Since 1847 it has been the stage of the most prestigious works. It has also been the meeting place of the Catalan upper class (in the lower floors of the theater), while the less opulent classes shared their opera passion on the upper floors. After its fire in 1994, it was rebuilt by incorporating notable technological improvements which made it one of the most modern theaters in the world.



'PLAÇA REIAL'

A year after the beginning of the “Liceu” construction, the Royal Square urbanization starts where the old Capuchins Convent used to be located. Important families of the time chose this square as their new residence. Currently, it has a more bohemian and crowded atmosphere.

GÜELL PALACE

Eusebi Güell (an important industrialist, politician and patron from Barcelona) orders Antoni Gaudí the construction of his new family residence (1886). The result is a unique mansion adapted to the private and social needs of the Güell family. The modernist palace was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.



COLUMBUS MONUMENT

Located at the confluence of La Rambla and the “Port Vell” (Old Harbor), Columbus Monument was built for the occasion of the Universal Exhibition (1888). It measures 57m high and an interior lift allows you to go to its viewpoint. Columbus's finger points out to the sea (initially it was said that it pointed out to America, which is located in the opposite direction).



Other points of interest in La Rambla, near the Mercer Hotel Barcelona: Virreina Image Center, Wax Museum, “Bosc de les Fades” (Fairy Forest Café), Santa Mònica Art Gallery, Maritime Museum and Aquarium.

The best of the Gothic Quarter, a few minutes walk from the Mercer

The Gothic Quarter, original core of the primitive Roman Barcino and medieval Barcelona is still nowadays the heart of the city. Its streets, squares, palaces and monuments overflow history and legends.


Located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, the Mercer Barcelona has a superb location to discover some of the main city attractions, by going for a pleasant walk and enjoying the neighborhood’s atmosphere.



Barcelona Cathedral

Just 4 minutes walking from the hotel, you can find the Cathedral of Barcelona, also known as the "Seu" or the "Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia" Cathedral (the city’s patron). It was built for over 150 years, between the 13th and 15th centuries. The current facade was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1888 following the neogothic style. The Cathedral is one of the best city examples of Gothic architecture.

Curiosities: Did you know that the Cathedral’s gargoyles have fantastic animal shapes?


Roman wall

The foundation wall (1st century BC) surrounded the Roman Barcino, with 4 access doors that coincided with the main streets that crossed the city from end to end, with moats and some defensive towers. In the 4th century, Barcino is fortified again. The second Roman wall, stands in front of the existing wall, with 16 meters high and 76 defense towers. This new wall turns the city into a stronghold and allows its defense until the Middle Age. The remains of the wall and its towers are visible in different sections of the Gothic, such as the "Ramón Berenguer el Gran" square, next to the Cathedral.

Curiosities: One of the Roman wall defense towers is located inside Mercer Barcelona.


Plaça Sant Jaume

"Plaça Sant Jaume" (Saint James Square) is the political Barcelona center, with both palaces: the "Generalitat" (Catalonia autonomous government) and the City Council. It is worth to access from "Carrer del Bisbe" (Bishop Street) and not to miss the "Porta del Bisbe" (Bishop Door) the only of the foundation wall 4 doors that is still preserved, the beautiful Cathedral cloister or the emblematic "Pont del Bisbe" (Bishop Bridge) that connects the Catalonia Government Palace with the Catalan Presidents ancient residence, designed by the architect Joan Rubió i Bellver, Gaudí’s disciple.

Curiosities: Under this bridge there is a mysterious skull: The legend tells that those who cross back that bridge looking at the skull, will be granted a wish.


Plaça del Rei

"Plaça del Rei" (The King’s Square) is a magnificent testimony of the medieval period. This small square houses important buildings, such as the "Palau Reial Major" (Royal Palace) which was one of the Catalan Counts main residences between the 13th and 15th centuries, the "Mirador del Rei Martí" (King’s Martin Tower) with nice city views, the "Santa Àgata" Royal Chapel built in the 14th century on the Roman wall and the "Palau del Lloctintent" (Lieutenant Palace) from the 16th century, with a beautiful Renaissance courtyard.

Curiosities: In the square subsoil there are impressive archaeological remains of the Roman era, which can be visited in the City History Museum.


Plaça del Pí

Surrounded by two lively squares and in a medieval and bohemian atmosphere, stands the "Basilica of Santa Maria del Pí" (Saint Mary of the Pine Tree Church). It’s a Catalan Gothic style construction. Its rosette from the 14th century, the largest in Catalonia, was destroyed in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt a few years later. From its bell tower, open to the public recently, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city.

In front of the church stands the building that houses the “Casa del Gremi dels Revenedors” (old medieval shopkeepers' guild). Its beautiful facade has the sculpture of Saint Michael (guild’s patron), as well as the oldest engraving in the city.

Curiosities: From "Plaça del Pi" (Pine Tree Square) you can go to "Petritxol" Street to taste the best hot chocolate in town.


Plaça Reial

The "Plaça Reial" (Royal Square) is the most popular portico square in the city, in which the Three Graces fountain, the lampposts (one of Gaudi's first works in Barcelona in 1879) and the characteristic palms stand out. Once occupied by important Barcelona families, today is one of the most mythical and vibrant city points, both day and night.

Curiosities: Next to this square, on "Carrer del Vidre 1" (1, Crystal Street), you will find "Herboristeria del Rei" (King’s herbalist shop), one of the oldest shops in Barcelona: Founded in 1818 and renovated in 1857 when its founder was named "Queen's Chamber Herbalist" and "Official supplier of the Royal House" by the Queen Isabel II.



The historical heritage of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter is impressive. And for its unbeatable location, the Mercer Barcelona, enables you to stay a step away from them all.

Modernist Barcelona

THE 'MODERNISME'

After the Second Industrial Revolution developments, a new trend emerges in several European countries (French Art Nouveau, German Jugendstil or English Modern Style, among others). In line with this European movement, Modernism appears as a cultural movement that seeks to modernize Catalan society.

In spite of developing in multiple disciplines (painting, sculpture, decorative arts, music or literature), its most outstanding application is architecture, which experiments a real transformation between 1885 and 1920, particularly in Barcelona.



ITS CONTEXT

Between the middle and the end of the 19th century, Barcelona witness the demolition of the walls that surrounded the city, the urbanization of extramural grounds, the creation of the Eixample district and the celebration of the Universal Exhibition in 1888. The city is in full transformation. Publishers, printers, newspapers, entities and associations proliferate. And with this economic and urban development, a new industrial well-off, enlightened and modern bourgeoisie grows.

The Eixample new district is fashionable and its main lane (the Passeig de Gràcia) is chosen by the bourgeoisie to fix their residences. Architecture becomes a sign of status: Having a modernist house allows standing out in social circles. As a result, the city becomes a hive of construction by the hand of the best Catalan architects. Some of these bourgeois end up being architect admirers, friends and patrons, as the Count Güell and the architect Gaudí, who will collaborate for decades in several projects.



CHARACTERISTICS OF MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE

Modernism is a heterogeneous movement in which each artist has his personal style, but all agree on the will to break with traditional esthetic rules, reject the poor and industrial architectural style of the first half of the 20th century, creating new forms far from the academicism and placing Barcelona at the height of new European trends.

"Originality consists of returning to the origin; be original is to returns to the simplicity of the first solutions." (Antoni Gaudí)

The artistic renewal is based on the creative freedom, the symbology and the profusion of details in the decoration. The new architectural concepts are inspired in nature (organic and colorist forms) and movement (curved and asymmetrical shapes). The use of new post-industrial building materials (such as iron structures) coexists with traditional techniques and crafts (such as blacksmith or glassmaker). New solutions of space, light and interior design are born.



WORLD HERITAGE

In this new city, lively and wealthy, young architects find the ideal setting for developing, free, modern, personal and creative new forms of expression. The legacy of the modernist architecture includes more than 100 works of outstanding local architects such as Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Antoni Gaudí, main representatives of Catalan Modernism.

Some works have been listed by Unesco as Cultural Heritage of Humanity: The Palau de la Música Catalana or the Hospital de Sant Pau by Domènech i Montaner, as well as the Palau Güell, Park Güell, the Vicens, Batlló and Milà Houses or the Sagrada Familia Nativity façade and crypt by Antoni Gaudí.



MODERNIST CURIOSITIES

THE 'GOLDEN SQUARE'

Eixample district (as the bourgeois residential center of the time) concentrates most of modernist buildings. Known as the 'Golden Square', this area is included in the 'Modernism Route', a journey through the modernist architecture that runs through the central Barcelona streets. The main axes of this itinerary are indicated on the pavement by red flower-shaped tiles (called 'panots') similar to those created by the architect Puig i Cadafalch for the carriage yard at the Amatller family house and later used to pave many Barcelona streets.



THE ‘BONE OF CONTENTION’

Inside the ‘Quadrat d'Or’, on the Passeig de Gràcia section between Aragó and Consell de Cent streets, architects Puig i Cadafalch, Domènech i Montaner and Gaudí built the houses for the Amatller (1898), Lleó Morera (1902) and Batlló (1904) families, respectively. Inhabitants of Barcelona named this section as the ‘Bone of Contention’ due to the impossibility of determining which of these spectacular houses was the most beautiful, as well as the supposed rivalry between these outstanding architects.



In short, these and other sensational modernist buildings remain an essential part of the Barcelona personality. The Mercer Hotel Barcelona Guest Relations Department will be delighted to organize a private tour with official guide for you to discover the uniqueness and genius architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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