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Barcelona From The Rhone

A mystical morning in Montserrat. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

You can’t sail the Rhone to Barcelona, but you can get to Spain’s iconic city as an optional extension on AmaWaterways’ Colors of Provence itinerary. In fact, I’ve chosen this seven-night itinerary for my 2025 Dream Cruise because the Rhone ranks among my favorite rivers. And for those of you who want more, coupling Barcelona at the beginning or end of your cruise makes for a perfect pairing. 

Back when I was filming for our sister site, Avid Cruiser, I visited Barcelona and visited many of the sites that are included on AmaWaterways’ extension. The video on this page will give you a taste of what you will experience on the three-night/four-day optional package.

What’s Included in AmaWaterways Barcelona Land Package

  • 3 nights at the Le Meridien Barcelona (or similar)
  • Daily breakfast at the hotel
  • Convenient transfers between your hotel and ship
  • Guided tours through the city’s Gothic Quarter and Montserrat
  • The services of one of Ama’s Cruise Managers throughout your river cruise and land journey

Extend your journey courtesy of AmaWaterways. Recieve a complimentary 2-, 3- or 4-night Land Package when you reserve select 2024 and 2025 Europe river cruises. Click here for offer details or contact your preferred travel advisor. Offer available through March 31, 2024.

Echoes of A Roman Past

Embark on a journey through Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter with an included tour that leads you to the enchanting Plaça de Sant Jaume. This historic square, once the site of the city’s Roman forum and the thriving Temple of Augustus, now stands as a testament to the enduring passage of time.

Admire the grandeur of the Palau de la Generalitat, the seat of the Catalan Government, gracing one side of the square. On the opposite end, discover the meticulously designed Barcelona City Hall, adding to the architectural splendor of the surroundings. Plaça de Sant Jaume, with its rich historical roots, has seamlessly evolved into a significant political hub, where the echoes of the past resonate with the present.

As you wander through this remarkable square, you’ll sense the weight of its political importance – a place where the voices of the people find resonance and where history and contemporary governance converge. The Plaça de Sant Jaume beckons as more than just a picturesque spot; it stands as a living testament to Barcelona’s rich heritage and its ongoing role in shaping the political landscape.

Architect Antoni Gaudí’s Masterpiece

In the heart of the Barcelona province, a collection of seven architectural wonders by the renowned Antoni Gaudí has earned the prestigious designation of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Towering above the cityscape, the most iconic among them is the Sagrada Família, the world’s largest unfinished Catholic church.

An awe-inspiring masterpiece, the Sagrada Família dominates the Barcelona skyline with its distinctive blend of classic Gothic architecture, nature-inspired elements, and profound Christian symbolism. A testament to both its era and our contemporary world, this colossal church captivates onlookers with its intricate details and extraordinary designs set against the backdrop of majestic mountains.

Initiated in 1882 and entirely funded by private donations, the construction of this architectural marvel has been a testament to patience and unwavering faith. Despite the gradual pace, Gaudí, the visionary behind the project, remained unfazed, famously stating, “My client [God] is in no hurry.” The Spanish Civil War posed a significant setback, damaging Gaudí’s original plans. However, after 16 years dedicated to repairing the intricate blueprints and plaster models, construction resumed.

Scheduled for completion in 2026, marking the centennial anniversary of Gaudí’s passing, the Sagrada Família holds the promise of being a crowning achievement. As a captivating part of your guided tour through the Gothic Quarter in your AmaWaterways land package, this monumental church will undoubtedly be a highlight, offering a glimpse into the intersection of history, art and faith.

The Black Madonna of Montserrat

The black madonna. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle
Perched majestically atop the picturesque mountain, the Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat unveils more than just breathtaking panoramas – it is a repository of extraordinary religious artistry. Among the abbey’s treasures stands the Virgin of Montserrat, affectionately known as the Black Madonna, a statue portraying the Virgin Mary and the infant Christ, resplendently enthroned on a golden altar. In 1844, Pope Leo XIII bestowed the honor of patroness of Catalonia upon this revered figure.

To behold the exquisite Black Madonna, pilgrims ascend a staircase adorned in gold. The chamber that cradles this sacred statue is itself adorned with an intricate golden overlay. The statue, shielded behind a layer of glass, reveals only one exposed hand. This open hand, tenderly reaching out, clutches a unique sphere symbolizing the cosmos. According to tradition, visitors gently touch the Virgin’s hand while placing their other hand on the infant Jesus, fostering a profound connection with the divine as they stand in the presence of this symbolically rich and aesthetically stunning masterpiece. Check out the abbey and more in the video below.