With such a wealth of Historical and Cultural sights on offer, it’s hard to know what to see and in what order when you visit the Catalan Capital of Barcelona. The city boasts 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and as an old Roman Citadel (known as “Barcino”), time can easily be spent wandering the streets of the enchanting Gothic Quarter, stopping off at the occasional Tapas bar to sample some of the fantastic Iberian cuisine on offer. However, some of the overlooked attractions are the many museums Barcelona has to offer, and I’m about to make planning your trip a little easier, with a list of free entrances to some of the city’s top museums.
On the first Saturday of every month, two excellent Museums open their doors to the public free of charge. First is the Maritime Museum, located at the bottom of Las Ramblas, on Avinguda Drassanes. This museum is actually part of the old city walls, and was originally the Dockyards (Catalan for Dockyards is Drassanes) and is a huge space, housing some interesting models and mock ups of what life was like during the functioning years of the dockyards, and also serving as an exhibition space with a usually off-topic show, such as the Bodies exhibition or even a Tin Tin show!
The second museum open for free if you want to sacrifice your Saturday shopping on the 1st Saturday of the month is the History Museum of Barcelona, located in the Gothic Quarter at the King’s Square (Pla del Rei). This fascinating museum consists of underground chambers and corridors, all of which were the real roman roads and alleyways of hundreds of years ago. It’s an amazing place to visit especially on a Saturday, with the hustle and bustle of a busy weekend above you whilst you explore the eerily quiet ruins below.
Sunday is not exception for a free pass into some Museums, and if you happen to be exploring the Botanical gardens of Montjüic mountain, then take a stroll down towards Plaça Espanya and along the way you’ll find the Ethnological museum on Paseo Santa Madrona. This is a surprisingly good museum with a mass array of ethnic pieces from cultures all over the world in airy glass spaces.
Moving across town into the El Borne neighbourhood, and specifically Carrer montcada, we find free entrance to the city’s homage to the Malagan artist, Pablo Picasso. The Picasso museum stores some of the artists early work while he lived and studied in Barcelona, as well as sculptures, paintings and other rarities. In the same street is the Museum of Textile and Industry. Located in the Palace of the Marquis of Lilo, this museum reflects the importance of textile as an industry in the historical Barcelona and also houses a great collection of Baroque to 20th century fashion, which is a real treat and a good laugh. The museum also has a nice courtyard café to relax and write your postcards in.
A quick step across the road, and the garden of Barcelona welcomes you – the Cuitadella Park. This is a lovely place to visit on a Sunday and is always full of young families and couples escaping from the city high rises. Another great reason to visit is the Geological Museum, which also offers free entrance on the first Sunday of the month. This was the first building designed specifically to be used as an exhibition space, in 1888. there are many fossils and the like as you would expect from a Geology museum, but also many minerals on display with replicas of the biggest diamonds in the world and a fascinating darkened section where ultra-violet lights are shone through certain minerals to great colourful effect.
Last but by no means least, and saving it for the 1st Monday of the month is the Chocolate museum! This is located on Carrer Comerç with neighbours of Michelin star restaurants and is also a pastry school. There are some audio visual presentations about the origins of chocolate but by far the highlight of the museum is the Workshop, where chocolatiers perform their art. Easter in Catalunya is not about eggs, but “monas” which are best described as chocolate creations, and can range from castles and houses to life-size representations of favourite characters such a Pinocchio, etc. Oh, and there’s obviously a shop to try and buy some of the wares, too!