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An unforgettable city dating back to Roman times, Barcelona is the dynamic capital of Catalonia and cradle of Catalan culture. From Gaudi's magnificent architectural masterpieces-like Casa Batlló, and the Sagrada Familia Basilica - to the Gothic Quarter, Picasso Museum, and F.C. Barcelona football stadium, Barcelona's rich culture is apparent everywhere you look. Stroll along the famed Las Ramblas to enjoy the ambiance and street entertainers. Take a tram trip up to the top of Tibidabo for panoramic views of the city below. Shop along the Passeig de Gracia at the most well-known boutiques in Barcelona. And be sure to join the locals at the Barri Gotic for a great selection of tapas and wine bars.
Monograms provides traveler’s access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Barcelona and Spain. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Barcelona and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host will share local Barcelona insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
Hello, my name is Francesca. I have been working as the Monograms Local Host in Barcelona for the past three years. I would like all Monograms visitors to enjoy this amazing city as much as possible; my goal is that they depart loving Barcelona as much as I do.
Antoni Gaudí's last residential building, and one of his most innovative landmarks, is a work of art in its own right. The Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera (Catalan for quarry), was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. “Secret Pedrera” will allow you to discover the secrets hidden inside the building when night falls.
Housed in the National Palace, the Catalan National Art Museum includes one of the most important Romanesque painting collections in the world.
Take a short train ride from the center of Barcelona, then catch a funicular train from the half-way point, to reach the top of the mountain and Tibidabo Amusement Park. It was built in 1889 and many of its 25 rides date back to this time, giving the park a whimsical feel.
Enjoy this spectacular show of water, lights, and music held in an area which stretches from the National Palace to Plaza de España. Ask your Local Host for details about days and times of this entertaining attraction.
If you're a football (soccer) fan, ask your Local Host for directions to view the stadium of the world-famous team. Maybe even see a match!
A museum, for people of all ages, designed to stimulate knowledge and opinion of science through exhibitions and a wide variety of activities.
La Sardana, sometimes also called the "sardanes" dance, is the traditional group folk dance of Catalonia. The music is provided by a "cobla" woodwind band. Ask your Local Host for more information.
The Picasso Museum is the reference center for the formative years (1887-1901) of Pablo Ruiz Picasso. With its complete collection of his early works, see the evolution of the master. Another exciting possibility for contemporary art lovers is the Miró Foundation to view the permanent collection of Joan Miró.
Barcelona's Port Olimpic was built to coincide with the 1992 Olympic Games, and its appearance on the city landscape is perhaps the most notable of the building projects the sporting event left behind; one of the most attractive areas of the city to visit, full of bars, restaurants, leisure facilities and modern sculptures.
Among the most typical dishes, you will find Escudella i carn d'olla (a delicious soup of pork, beef, & chicken with vegetables, rice, noodles, & potatoes); Butifarra (Catalan sausage); and Arroz a la cazuela (similar to paella). Seafood specialties include La zarzuela (a mixture of halibut, monkfish, prawns, squid & mussels); or Suquet de peix, (cod fish soup). Two of the most popular dishes of the region are Escalivada (grilled eggplant & red peppers in an olive oil & garlic sauce); and Esqueixada de bacalao (a cold codfish salad). For dessert, taste the famous Crema catalana (custard); Mel i mato (cottage cheese with honey); and Postre de músico (the traditional Catalan “musician's dessert” nuts). In Barcelona, you can also enjoy a fine selection of wines from the nearby Penedès region.
Take home Cava, a local sparkling wine similar to champagne. It can be white or rosé - both are delicious; Anís del mono, an anise-based liqueur is also popular. Spanish sausages such as Fuet or Chorizo; Carquinyolis, artisan crunchy almond biscuits; a handcrafted Gaudí keepsake; a souvenir of the legendary FC Barça football team; or the traditional porrón, a Catalan glass wine pitcher.
Barcelona's coastline is over 4 km. long and offers a wide variety of excellent beaches. Barceloneta beach, nearest to the city center, is located in the traditional fishing district “La Barceloneta” and is one of the city's best-loved beaches due to its sandy beach and many restaurants and nightclubs along the boardwalk.
Located in southern Spain on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, Cordoba’s settlements date back to the Bronze Age. It was once the capital of a Roman province as well as the capital of an Arab State. Its architectural gems include the famous Mosque-Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is a medieval Islamic mosque converted into a Catholic cathedral. The historical quarter around the Great Mosque is also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to its history and artistic heritage, Cordoba is also known for its gastronomy.
Monograms provides traveler’s access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Cordoba and Spain. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Cordoba and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host will share local Cordoba, Spain insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
With its thick defensive walls, has served both as a fortress and a palace since the 14th century, and is a perfect illustration of the development of Cordoban architecture through the ages. This UNESCO World Heritage site was the royal residence of Christian monarchs and one of the first sites of the Inquisition. Its ornate, terraced gardens with fish ponds, fountains, orange trees, flowers and beautiful landscaping are a pleasure to stroll in; and for a birds-eye view, climb one of the towers.
Shop for Cordobanes and Guadamecies, which are leather pieces embossed, modeled and colored with modern or classical designs. Gold and silverwork is a driving force of the city's economy and one of the best known techniques is Cordoban filigree work, which consists of soldering gold or silver threads onto a metal structure to create different shapes. There is a strong tradition of pottery-making in the north of the province using high quality clay that, after baking, is decorated with designs and motifs which originated in Moslem Cordoba.
Cordoban olive oil comes from the Guadalquivir river valley and is an essential ingredient in the local cuisine. Several types of well-known wines also come from this region such as Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Cream, Pedro Ximénez, Blanco Joven (Young White) and organic wines. There is a wide range of liqueurs, including the dry or sweet aniseed liqueurs from Rute, a village in the Subbetica hill region of Cordoba province, which has a long tradition dating back to the 17th century, of distilling this type of liqueur.
While it may not be a Paris, London, or Barcelona, Spain's capital city has a unique quality all its own, with world-class shopping and art galleries, an exceptional nightlife and live music scene, and fine restaurants and tapas bars by the bazillions. Many visitors believe Madrid is the most Spanish of Spain's cities, and there's, naturally, plenty to see and do. Don't miss bustling Puerta del Sol square-the heart of Madrid's historic center and the actual center of the Spanish road system; beautiful Plaza de Espana with its monument to Cervantes; the beloved Cibeles Fountain depicting the goddess of nature; the palatial Prado Museum with its priceless art treasures; and the pond, museum, rose garden, and monuments of splendid El Retiro Park.
Monograms provides traveler’s access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Madrid and Spain. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Madrid and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local Madrid insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
Maribel has over 20 years' experience as a local guide; she really enjoys being a Local Host as it gives her the opportunity to share her love and knowledge of Madrid and its rich heritage with Monograms guests.
Raquel, an experienced tour guide of Madrid and its surroundings, loves her country's art and history and looks forwards enthusiastically to sharing her knowledge of this great city and Spanish traditions and culture with you.
Ask your Local Host about a walking route to see architecture of the Habsburg Period of Madrid; discover the old convents, churches and narrow lanes of the city that was the capital of a world empire in the 16th century. Stop at a café, pub, or old market-turned-into-gourmet center, and end at Plaza de Oriente, next to the Royal Palace.
When Phillip of Anjou was chosen as the new Spanish King, with the name of Felipe V, in 1700, he became the first Bourbon king of Spain. With the support of his famous grandfather, French King Louis XIV, he brought new spaces, modern infrastructures, splendid arches, monuments, and fountains to the city. Puerta del Sol is a good starting point to see what the Age of Enlightenment gave to Madrid. Your Local Host will have details about this walking route.
Madrid has been the inspiration for some of Spain’s best literature. The literary district is a beautifully preserved 17th century area. Strolling along Huertas’ street brings to mind writers like Quevedo and Góngora. Cervantes lived in the area, and you can visit the beautifully preserved home of the great Lope de Vega nearby. Pass streets that hold memories of Echegaray and Moratín; and Plaza de Jacinto Benavente in honor of 1922 Nobel Prize winner for literature. Eventually reach Plaza Mayor, which has been immortalized in the novels of Benito Perez Galdós.
Madrid is considered a "green city" with more than 617,000 acres of parks, and some beautiful historic gardens. One of the best options to enjoy Green Madrid is El Retiro (Park of the Pleasant Retreat) which dates back to the 1600s. It is the one of the largest parks of the city and belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park. It features a lake, rose garden, statues, fountains, and museums. Around the lake, Retiro Pond, many puppet shows perform, and all manner of street performers. Rowboats can be rented and horse-drawn carriages are available.
Built in the 18th century under Philip V, the Royal Palace of Madrid is a truly magnificent example of palatial architecture in Europe. The halls open to the public contain superb fresco paintings, tapestries, furniture, porcelain and all kind of sumptuous objects reviving the past. The Royal Armory and the Royal Pharmacy are also well worth a visit.
A neoclassical masterpiece with the largest dome in Madrid, its walls and ceilings are decorated with superb frescoes. The church is designed with an unusual floor plan, the nave is circular and surrounded by chapels guarded by imposing marble statues of the 12 apostles; 12 prophets, rendered in wood, sit above them at the base of the dome. The San Bernardino chapel contains a fresco painted by Goya in the early stages of his career – unusually, Goya has painted himself into the scene (he’s the one in the yellow shirt on the right).
Madrid's 18th century hospital was beautifully remodeled and converted into a museum in 1992, with two panoramic glass lifts standing out in the façade. Its official name is now the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and it's a treasure-house of contemporary and modern art. A highlight is the 20th century's most famous painting, Picasso's "Guernica". Another highlight is "Woman in Blue" also by Picasso. Miró and Dali are two other influential artists well represented in the collection.
An overview of art from the 13th century to the present day - in the nearly one thousand works on display, see first class works of international art created by two generations of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family, including the private collection of Baroness Thyssen.
Madrid is a shopper’s paradise. You can find everything from luxury goods and antiques to religious items. See its exclusive shops, boutiques, and art galleries. Your Local Host can suggest a walking route with specialty shops (some of them more than 100 year’s old), including a wonderful cake store which supplies the Spanish Royal Family. Typical souvenirs to take home include saffron, a bota bag (leather wine bottle), jamon Iberico (cured ham), a Flamenco music CD, olive oil, and hand-held fans.
There is a healthy pastime in Madrid: having your aperitif with a small side order of food, the tapa. This wonderful pursuit is one of the most important chapters in fully understanding and enjoying the pleasures of dining out in Madrid. Another traditional local food is Cocido madrileño, a chick-pea based stew, with a combination of different meats and vegetables - it is not a dish for the faint-hearted!
Madrid boasts excellent local wines from the nearby regions of Arganda, Navalcarnero (historically famous for its’ rosé wines), and San Martin de Valdeiglesia. Sangria is a delightful and refreshing drink with origins that date back hundreds of years when the locals were searching for a flavorful drink that contained alcohol, so they set about making a fruit punch out of red wine.
The Guinness Book of Records calls this the world's oldest restaurant (est. 1725), and Hemingway was a frequent visitor. There are four floors of tile and wood-beam dining rooms. The specialties are cochinillo (roast pig) and cordero (roast lamb). It is rumored that Goya washed dishes here before he made it as a painter.
Ask your Local Host for information about opera performances or the “Zarzuela” a type of Spanish musical play or operetta that started as a popular court entertainment in the mid 17th century.
Located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, Seville is Spain's fourth largest city and the capital of Andalucia. Once the only trading port with the Indies, it is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Cathedral, Alcázar, and Archivo de Indias. The Cathedral, founded in 1403, is the largest church in the world and houses Christopher Columbus’ remains. The Alcázar, built in the 10th century as the Moslem governor’s palace, is the Spanish royal family's residence in Seville. The Archivo de Indias was built in 1585 and today holds documents concerning the discovery of the New World.
Monograms provides traveler’s access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Seville and Spain. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Seville and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host will share local Seville, Spain insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
A UNESCO World Heritage site and resting place of Christopher Columbus, Seville’s cathedral, also known as Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, stands on the site of the Great Mosque of the 12th century. The mosque was converted into a Christian church when the city was conquered by Ferdinand III of Castile in 1248. Today, the only part which remains of the original structure is the minaret/bell tower, also known as the Giralda.
The Golden Tower, one of Seville's most photographed landmarks, is a legacy of the Almohades, a Moorish dynasty that controlled much of Southern Spain until the re-conquest of the area by the Christians in the 13th century. Designed as a defensive tower to protect the port, it was given its name (“gold tower”) because it was originally covered in golden tiles. Today the restored tower is a naval museum.
Maria Luisa Park is a large public park along the Guadalquivir river, with hundreds of exotic trees lining shady avenues; historic, fairytale buildings, colorful tiled benches; and Moorish fountains and pools. The park is home to many monuments, among the most famous are the Fountain of Lions (Fuente de los Leones) and the Water-lily Pool (Estanque de los Lotos). Located inside Maria Luisa Park, the large Plaza de España complex was built for the Spanish-American Exhibition of 1929 to showcase Spain’s industry and technology exhibits. The plaza is surrounded by a canal, and beautiful bridges decorated with ceramic tiles.
The Casa de Pilatos (Pilate's House) is an Andalusian palace, built between the 15th & 16th centuries, adorned with precious azulejos tiles and well-kept gardens, which serves as the permanent residence of the Dukes of Medinaceli. The Casa de Lebrija, a 16th century palace, boasts a large collection of Roman mosaics which pave almost the entire ground floor. There is also a great collection of amphoras, ceramics, and sculptures.
The museum is set in a neo-Renaissance style pavilion, Pabellón del Renacimiento, designed by the architect Aníbal González. The visit starts with the Early Palaeolithic period and finishes with Moorish and Mudéjar items from the Middle Ages, and includes interesting intermediate stages such as the Roman world. Items worth noting include the "Carambolo Treasure", from the Tartessian period, with a reproduction of the magnificent gold treasure, and elements relating to its original setting: a shrine dedicated to Phoenician divinities.
Shop for ceramics in the old gypsy quarter of Triana, where the beautiful azulejos (ceramic tiles) are made, perhaps even watch the craftsmen at work.
Food is life here, a Sevillano can argue for hours about whether the best jamon serrano (cured ham) comes from Huelva or Aracena. Recommended buys are locally produced sherry, olive oil, marmalade and, of course, ham.
Located in the Costa del Sol region, Torremolinos was first inhabited roughly 150,000 years ago. Today, with its seafront promenade and clean beaches, it is a popular tourist destination. Its bustling pedestrian mall, Calle San Miguel, is also known as “The Street of Europe” due to its popularity. It offers the Open-Air Shopping Center, where locals and visitors congregate. Another popular attraction is the Parque de la Bateria, a 74,000 square kilometer park opened in 2007. Torremolinos is known for its pescaíto (small fried fish), and many beach bars line the promenade.
Monograms provides traveler’s access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to Torremolinos and Spain. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about Torremolinos and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host will share local Torremolinos, Spain insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
La Carihuela, historically a traditional fishing village, is now a cosmopolitan center with innumerable hotel, leisure, and gastronomic establishments. It is precisely the district’s gastronomy that has earned this strip of the Torremolinos coast it’s well deserved fame for the remarkable pescaíto frito (small fried fish) that is served in the area restaurants.
The Torremolinos Botanic Gardens are a delightful oasis in the hustle and bustle of the Costa del Sol. Two water wheels are the center-piece of the gardens which power the two massive stones that still grind wheat to produce flour. The gardens are home to palm trees, tropical fruit trees, woodland trees and flowering shrubs, but the real beauty of these gardens lies in the under-planting. The choice of color and form is inspired and blend together with an understated ease and grace.
Tivoli World is the Costa del Sol's biggest theme park, with two dozen rides to choose from, including those geared towards tiny tots. Sea Life, located at the entrance of Benalmadena Port, is an excellent aquarium with a "touch pool" educational section for young children with crabs and starfish, as well as the possibility to see tiny sharks and rays swimming in their egg cases with the aid of magnifying glasses.
Visit Malaga’s still unfinished Gothic style cathedral, popularly known as La Manquita (the One-Armed One); the Alcazaba an imposing edifice, built between the 11th & 14th centuries, which served as a fortress and palace. Also see Gibralfaro castle located high on the hill overlooking the city and the Roman theater built during the times of Augustus and used until the 3rd century.
Museo Picasso Malaga with donations made by Christine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso for a total of 155 works by Pablo Picasso, have been the cornerstone of the whole of this project. The museum also displays the Phoenician remains found during the renovation of the Palace. Carmen Thyssen Malaga Museum, one of the city’s latest museums opened in 2011, is in a renovated 16th-century palace in the heart of the city’s historic center. The extensive collection concentrates on 19th-century Spanish and Andalusian art and includes paintings by some of the country’s most exceptional painters, including Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, Ignacio Zuloaga and Francisco de Zurbarán.
Enjoy the extensive beaches on the Costa del Sol; their diversity and climate have transformed the region into a great holiday destination in the summer and almost all the year round. Two favorites are Playa La Carihuela, and your Monograms hotel overlooks Playa El Bajondillo.
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