Exuberant design runs through Barcelona's 10 districts like wine. For 2,000 years the city has built itself on beauty, from its 13th-century Gothic cathedral to Anton Gaudí's modernisme masterpieces: the sand castle-like spires and bright mosaics of his late-19th century churches, walls, pillars, and parks. You cannot separate the city from the Catalan architect whose bold vision has set it forever apart.
Since Gaudí, generations have continued to experiment, raising buildings like the Torre Agbar (a 38-story bullet of many colors) and the nearby Museu del Disseny (Museum of Design), as well as public art like Frank Gehry's "El Peix," a 184-foot metallic gold-fish that seems to be swimming over the rooftops out to sea. The city is home to creation factories (repurposed factories for artists) and, perhaps most famously, the Barcelona Design Festival, which draws hundreds of exhibitors and more than 15,000 visitors every summer.
Who better to express the renewing current of this city than Pablo Picasso, who spent his formative years in Barcelona? "This is where it all began," the artist said. "Where I understood how far I could go."