Some big cities just have it, and Barcelona is one of them. Last Saturday evening for example there was a world class athletics meet at the Olympic stadium on Montjuic and later we watched the Magic Fountain show from the steps of the MNAC- fabulous entertainment all round!
The athletics “Miting” had some big stars that were keen to get some last minute competitive races in before the World Championships in Berlin in august but the highlight of the evening was Marta Dominguez‘ Spanish record in the 3,000m steeplechase. Ever the competitor, she came through brilliantly with the home crowd saluting her efforts in what is still one of the greatest venues in athletics history with the ’92 Olympics ever present.
A short walk from the stadium to the steps of the MNAC and we had another wonderful surprise looking down over the Plaza Espanya and the Magic Fountain light and music show. During the summer months you can see it from thu-sun from around dusk (9.30pm) and is well worth catching for the informal atmosphere, balmy night temperature and of course the dramatic water, light and music show.
For a city which is no longer cheap these fun events on a Saturday night were a true bargain (athletics 10? Magic Fountain free!)
After the wonderful Sorolla exhibition, which is now in Madrid, the MNAC is hosting another must see with photos which inflamed the world and sent thousands of idealists like George Orwell to join the anti-fascist cause during the Spanish Civil War.
One of the temporary exhibitions on at the MNAC until May is the Sorolla Hispanic Society of America collection featuring all 14 enormous canvases commissioned by the philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington in 1911 to decorate the library.
Sorolla spent six years travelling all over Spain to capture traditional scenes and events with his usual attention to detail and spectacular use of light and colour. Since this is a free exhibition there is no excuse not going to see some of the best paintings of Spanish life circa 1900's – you will not regret it!
The MNAC (Museu National d'Art de Catalunya) sits in a priviledged position at the top of Montjüic with views over Barcelona. The building itself is massive and impressive but is currently under scaffolding for renovation but the collections it houses are the most spectacular part.
There are permanent collections that range from what could be salvaged from the Romanesque through the Gothic, Baroque to the Modern period. All have their own wing in this light and airy building as well as space for a concert hall, several restaurants and bookshops.
This is a must for all visitors who want to get a feel for the cultural richness of Catalonia as well as some of the best views of Barcelona and enjoying strolling through the tranquil and cool gardens all around.