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Olympic Port - Arts Hotel - Mapfre Tower

Olympic Port - Arts Hotel - Mapfre Tower (94)

The Olympic Port and Olympic Village were born out of the 1992 Olympic Games. The overall design was the responsibility of the architects Josep Martorell, Oriol Bohigas, David Mackay and Albert Puigdomènech and the engineer Joan Ramón de Clascà, who were charged with creating a residential area in the city, which, before, quite simply did not exist.

Two buildings have become symbols of the Olympic Port: the Arts Hotel and the Mapfre Tower. Both were built for the Olympic Games and function as the entrance to the Olympic Port. These two towers, 154 metres high, are at present the highest buildings in the city.

The Arts hotel, a true architectural jewel in iron and glass, and work of the architects Bruce Gram and Frank O. Gehry, has 44 storeys and 456 luxury bed-rooms beside the sea. Its nine highest storeys contain 27 luxury apartments. 

This 5-star hotel is considered by many one of the best in the city, which is why great international stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Leonardo Di Caprio, Sandra Bullock, Harrison Ford, U2 or Woody Allen have chosen it for their stays in Barcelona. 

One of the most emblematic sculptures of the area stands very close to the hotel: the “peix d’or” or golden fish. This is also a Frank Gehry design and is constructed with metal plates that change colour, depending on the light of the sun.

The Mapfre tower, designed by Iñigo Ortiz and Enrique de León, is a 40-storey office-block. Its windows reflect the ground, which makes it look like a giant mirror. The ground floor holds a shopping mall. As its name indicates, most of the tower is occupied by the offices of MAPFRE, one of Spain’s leading insurance companies, although there are also offices of other companies.

It is clear that the Olympic village would not be what it is without the Olympic Port. This harbour offers a lot more than its numerous leisure crafts. It is a place for enjoyment by day and by night. Right by the harbour a number of bars and restaurants huddle together, which by night are transformed into lively wine bars and discos.

Going to the Olympic Port in the morning, especially on Sunday, is also highly agreeable. People enjoy the sea, ride their bikes, practise sports and, if you only go to walk, it is very difficult not to stop at one of the arts and crafts stalls that are put up at the Port on week-ends.

We also recommend you take a short walk to discover the Olympic Village, this new Barcelona neighbourhood. It is where many of the sports people who came to the city for the Olympics stayed, before the flats were put on the market. The neighbourhood is characterised by the balance achieved between buildings and green areas.

You can begin by the “Plaça dels Voluntaris”, the Volunteers’ Square, which is right in front of the two towers. In the same square there is a huge fountain by Josep M. Mercè and, not very far away, you can see the face of Antoni Llena’s sculpture, “David and Goliath”.

Somewhat further away we see Frank Gehry’s Golden Fish with the Atalanta Gardens behind it. The chimney of Can Folch, one of the oldest chimneys in Barcelona and testimony to the industrial past of the area, is conserved here. 

The group of buildings shaped like an ellipse is also by the team responsible for the overall lay-out of the Olympic Village.

Follow the Avinguda del Bogatell and you will come to a round square called Tirant lo Blanc. Cross this and you will reach Carrer Salvador Espriu, with a fountain designed by the Canaries sculptor Juan Bordas and the architect Òscar Tusquets, one of the Catalans with most fame outside Catalonia and who has worked on designs with artists of the category of Salvador Dalí.

Beside the parks of the Olympic Village you can cross the coastal ring-road by wooden bridges and reach the Parc dels Ponts (Park of the Bridges), in which there is a small canal. The big sculpture Tallavents, by Francesc Fornells, stands at the junction of Salvador Espriu and Vicens Vives. 

You can end your tour at the Plaça dels Campions (Champions), where you will find on the ground the 257 gold medals won at the 1992 Olympic Games. Several sporting idols have left the imprints of their hands in this square: look for them!

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