It’s been 20 years since we saw Linford Christie race to gold in the 100m, and NBA superstars Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson join forces to reign supreme in basketball at the Barcelona Olympic Games.
The Spanish city played host at an important time in world history. The Berlin Wall had fallen three years before, meaning Germany competed as a one team, Nelson Mandela had been released from prison in 1990 leading to the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, and 12 of the 15 former Soviet states came together as the Unified Team; for the first time since 1972 there were no boycotts.
The Games were deemed a success on both a sporting and political front, as well as economically, with huge investment in transport, telecommunications and the waterfront helping to create the thriving tourist hub that the city is today.
It’s not hard to see why Barcelona is now one of the most visited cities in Europe -- the magnificent architecture, the friendly locals and that relaxed atmosphere. You can while away hours wandering the lanes, admiring the Gothic architecture and stopping for a plate of tapas here or a glass of sangria there.
Many of the Olympic buildings are close to the city’s main sights. The Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys and the accompanying Olympic & Sports Museum are both on Montjuic, a short walk from Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalyuna, one of the city’s top art museums. From there, it’s a pleasant stroll to the Gothic Quarter and famous Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s busiest thoroughfare, lined with shops, cafes, restaurants and bars.
Two of the city’s most popular attractions, Park Güell and Sagrada Familia (both of which were designed by Antoni Gaudí), are a little further away but still easily reachable on foot. The views from the upper levels of Park Güell are incredible and give a great perspective on just how much of this cosmopolitan city there is to explore.
If you’re pushed for time or would prefer to get around via public transport, a 10-journey Metro card is just over €10. Else, a Barcelona Hop-on, Hop-Off bus ticket for €24 is a great way to take in the main sights without much exertion.
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