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Port Vell

Roy Lichtenstein's Face of Barcelona

A magnet for locals and visitors alike, the revitalised Port Vell ('Old Port'), symbolized by Roy Lichtenstein's colourful 46-foot El cap de Barcelona ('Head of Barcelona') was one of the first post-Franco hints that Barcelona was determined from now on to dazzle the world.

In the Middle Ages, Barcelona’s dominance in the Mediterranean was such that her sailors boasted that ‘not even a fish would dare to appear without the quatre barres', the flag of Catalonia. Endowed by nature with only a mediocre port (but the only one between Tarragona and Perpignan), Barcelona’s maritime success came by way of sheer determination and mercantile savvy.

18th-century view of Barcelona port

Sea walls (replaced in 1880 with the Passeig de Colom) and shabby dock buildings crowded the water which was oil-slicked and bobbing with garbage in a haze of anchovy and diesel-stink.

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Aquàrium Barcelona

Something fishy going on here

Basilica de La Mercè

Mercy! (it's also home to Barcelona's biggest party)

Carrer Ample

The street of kings

Catamaran Orsom

Jazz cruising in the harbour

Columbus Monument

Irony in iron


Tour Barcelona's port


Shopping on the waterfront

Museu d'Història de Catalunya

Try on a Suit of Armour

Museu Marítim

Salty secrets of Barcelona's success

Passeig de Colomb

The old seafront

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by PD Art, Roger Price