Barcelona is often celebrated as one of Europe‘s most cultured and sophisticated cities. Known for its delectable wines and tapas, Barcelona beckons travelers yearning for elegance and luxury. Yet, beyond its glitzy reputation, Barcelona holds treasures for those who relish traveling off the beaten path, uncovering oddities such as chocolate sculptures, a stunning yet hazardous fountain, a museum dedicated to ornate hearses, and an intricate hedge maze.
For chocolate aficionados, Barcelona’s Chocolate Museum is essential. More than just tracing the evolution of the beloved dark delicacy, the museum showcases sculptures crafted entirely from chocolate. Visitors can admire a chocolate Komodo dragon, a white chocolate ape named Snowy, and even a chocolate rendition of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, La Pieta. After immersing oneself in chocolate art, the museum’s gift shop provides an opportunity to satisfy any emerging cravings with gourmet selections.
One of the city’s lesser-known marvels, the Calder Mercury Fountain, is a blend of beauty and danger. Crafted by American artist Alexander Calder in the 1930s, the fountain pays tribute to the mercury mines of Almaden, Spain. Unbeknownst to the public at the time, mercury was perilously toxic. During its debut at the World’s Fair in the late 1930s, spectators would walk up to the fountain, letting mesmerizing streams of mercury flow over their hands. Today, while the mercury still flows, it is safely encased in glass to protect onlookers.
At first glance, a Funeral Hearse Museum might sound morbid. Yet, the Museu de Carrosses Funebres de Barcelona captivates its visitors. Showcasing ornate funeral carriages replete with angelic statues, sumptuous draperies, and gold detailing, the museum invokes images of Cinderella’s carriage—albeit a somber version. An afternoon spent appreciating the artistry and symbolism of Spain’s most opulent funeral carriages offers a surprisingly uplifting experience.
Labyrinth Park of Horta, reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” enthralls maze enthusiasts. Within its dense, confounding hedges lies a garden filled with surprises. Those adept at navigating its dizzying twists and turns are rewarded with a statue of the Greek Goddess Eros, set against a backdrop of a tranquil pond. For those less keen on wandering through the maze, overlooking pavilions offer a bird’s-eye view of the artful topiary below.
In essence, Barcelona is a city of contrasts—grandeur intertwined with quirks. Beyond its renowned opulence, the city houses myriad curiosities sure to provide travelers with compelling tales to recount.