Barcelona as an Outdoor Museum

Walking around Barcelona is similar to that of walking through an art gallery set to 25 degrees Celsius below constant sunshine.  Our fantastic city is a non-stop head turner, thanks to the legendary artists that have left their mark on our streets, buildings, squares and churches. Here are some of our most famous outdoor landmarks, sculptures, and architecture to make your strolls a bit more informed.

L’Estel Ferit (The Wounded Shooting Star)

Better known as “the cubes” by locals, the notable sculpture on the Barceloneta beach was created in the period of the 1992 olympics as a symbolic structure linking the past of the Barceloneta district, the first in Barcelona.  It consists of four windowed cubes stacked in an disorderly manner. German artist Rebecca Horn focused in on the neglect to the neighborhood of Barceloneta during the innovative and modern construction of the new Olympic city.  As the beach bars (xiringuitos) were shacks that had fallen into disrepair and thus removed during the construction and preparation for the olympics, new refurbished buildings were being built.  Thus, Horn created the symbolic cubes to represent the tiny apartments in the area that had been built centuries before, as small as 30m2.  You’ll find this on the beach in Barceloneta — quite hard to miss!


Distinct letters spelling “Barcino” are the foreground for the Roman wall just outside of the Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter.  Known as both a photography point and a meeting spot for the area, it holds a bit more history than the eye would see.  Centuries ago, the aqueduct once entered the city at this point.  Barcino is the roman name of Barcelona, and thus symbolizes the ancient colony to the current city.  There are 6 bronze letters and one aluminum, each holding their own design.  Artist Joan Brossa was a bold and fine artist who brought his work to the street and made his art public with this sculpture in 1994.

Canaletes Fountain

One of La Rambla’s most cherished (and visited) landmarks, it is a meeting place for tourists and locals after a FC Barcelona victory.  Supporters have been gathering here since the early 1900’s.  In the past, it was essential for the old town’s water supply.  The name “Canaletes” refers to the water channels that brought water down from the Collserola mountains to the city from the 14th to the 18th century. In the 18th century, a university was built on the site, thus the water was simply used as a fountain thereafter.  A century later, the university was demolished, so the Canaletes fountain was reconstructed to be as it is seen today.  In current times, it holds a myth in which anyone who drinks from the fountain will fall deeply in love with Barcelona and return many times in their life.  This can be found just steps from the top of La Rambla.

Mirador de Colom

The Columbus Monument, perched at the end of La Rambla near the port stands 60 metres above the ground.  Built in 1888 as a tribute to Christopher Colombus and for the Universal Exhibition, it marked the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America.  It was built to honor Colombus’ sharing of his findings to Spanish Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon.  From its top, protruding through the sky and viewable from many points throughout the city, he is pointing with his route to America with his right hand.  If you look closely enough at any of the relief panels at the base of the column you will find scenes from his first voyage to the Americas.  The monument was designed by Catalan artist Gaietà Buigas i Monravà upon winning a contest which gave him the right to carry out the project.


The enormous goldfish was created in preparation for the Olympic city in 1992, looked over by its twin towers on the seaside.  Sculptor Frank Gehry created the 56 meter-long animal which is meant to appear as if it were jumping into the nearby sea.  Made of gold stainless steel, it illuminates as the sun reflects onto its “scales.”  The intensity of the light changes the perception of the towering sculpture.  It can be seen from multiple vantage points, such as the Barceloneta beach and the Marina.  Due to its stature and impressive beauty in the mediterranean sun, it has gained a reputation as being one of the city’s most iconic points of interest.

Arc de Triomf


This gateway was built for the 1888 Universal Exhibition sitting pristinely at the top of a walkway leading the Parc de la Cituadella.  Architect Josep Vilaseca designed the monument to be of classical style, while incorporating and paying respect to the nations taking part in the Exhibition.  The frieze looking over Passeig de Sant Joan (opposite direction of the sea) welcomes the nation, and the one in the back shows the presenting of medals to participants in the exhibition.  At the top of the arch lie shields of 49 spanish provinces, with the largest being of the city of Barcelona, resting over them.  To arrive, take the red line to Arc de Triomf.

Barcelona “Face”

Known in Spanish as “Cara de Barcelona,” its sheer size and color make the sculpture almost impossible to miss.  Many have different opinions about this public art which was created for the Olympic games, both positive and not-so-positive ones.  During the renovations for the ames, the old harbor was redeveloped and many new works of art were constructed throught the area.  This being one of them, sculptor Roy Lichtenstein made this imposing sculpture 15 meters high.  Offering different perspectives from various viewpoints, a face is the most notable that can be spotted.  Lichtenstein created the face as part of his involvement in the pop art movement.  He paid tribute to Gaudi, the most influential architect of Barcelona, by the addition of mosaic.

Photo Credits: Mazlov, Kris Arnold, Fnogues, Liz Castro, Umberto, Doris Hausen.

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