Barcelona Behind the Scenes: Cabaret and Carnival - Atlas Obscura

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona Behind the Scenes: Cabaret and Carnival

Get special access and behind-the-scenes perspectives on some of the iconic sights and hidden wonders of this Mediterranean capital city. These six days with Atlas Obscura will intrigue, entrance, and surprise you at every step.

In collaboration with Felipe Trigo, Events Producer and Director of the Congress for Curious People in Spain, and Irina Sytcheva, an international tour guide with a specialization in Modernist art, Atlas Obscura presents a week brimming with new and unusual experiences. Wandering through Barcelona’s historic streets and squares, we'll discover marvelous locations such as a Baroque anatomical amphitheater, a theatrical designer's atelier, and subterranean bomb shelters. 

Our explorations of history, culture, and spectacle will take place during one of the most exciting times in the year: Carnival. During our week together, we will celebrate Carnival with shows inspired by the golden age of classical music and cabaret in Barcelona. And on our final evening, we will don our best outfits and enter a lavish house museum for a Carnival Gala. Whether this is your first time in Barcelona or your fifth, this adventure is an extraordinary opportunity to fully immerse yourself in one of the most diverse and breathtaking cities in Europe.

This trip is limited to a small group of 15 travelers.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Down the rabbit holes of history: Each day on this carefully curated tour, you'll be peering into a different corner of Barcelona's fascinating history—from science and medicine to art and religion to sin and vice.
  • Live music and performance: Experience a classical piano concert inside a private library and a cabaret performance at a tango bar.
  • Carnival Gala at a Belle Époque atelier: On our final night, transform into your most glamorous self and delight yourself in one of the most spectacular private house museums in Europe: the Oleguer Junyent Workshop. Our Carnival Gala includes a private dinner as well as opera and mentalist performances.

YOUR EXPERT ORGANIZERS AND GUIDES

Felipe Trigo is a native of Barcelona. He has a degree in History, with a specialization in the contemporary period, as well as experience as a local guide, curating itineraries aimed at discovering the most surprising and hidden elements within the city. Inspired by a special devotion to stage arts, Felipe has directed the underground cabaret company Kriminal Kabarett since 2011, working with prestigious artists in Europe. Since 2014, he has served as co-director for Hendrick's Congress for Curious People in Spain, a chapter of the original Congress of Curious Peoples based in Coney Island, New York. 

Irina Sytcheva is an international tourist guide with a degree in tourism who has worked for top companies in both Spain and Russia. Her focus is on Modernist art, and she leads the official tours in Park Güell and other Gaudí architectural masterpieces. Irina is one of the most important collaborators in the Centre d'Estudis Domènech i Montaner, translating the architect's bibliography to Russian. She also organizes extraordinary events related to classical music and culture.

DEPOSIT

$500 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot, as we have a limited capacity, and we expect the trip to fill quickly. The trip will cost $3,475the $500 deposit plus the $2,975 final payment—and will cover all fixed costs including all accommodations, meals, and activities listed in the itinerary below. 

QUESTIONS?

Please email us at trips@atlasobscura.com or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.

Itinerary
Day 1
Arrival & Welcome Dinner
  • Today, arrive in Barcelona and make your way our hotel, set in a 19th-century building and located near Plaça Catalunya, the city center. Take the chance to rest from your travels.
  • If you have time to wander and explore on your own, we’ll happily provide recommendations. If you plan to arrive early, we can also arrange extra nights at the hotel for you.
  • We’ll meet at 6 p.m. in the hotel for an official welcome, then set out before dinner for a short tour exploring the myths and mysteries of ancient Barcelona. We'll walk into the medieval district towards Santa Maria del Pi Church, receiving into some of Barcelona's most shocking and enigmatic passages of medieval history, from ghost legends and the legacy of the Inquisition to alchemy and occult sciences. Along the way, we'll see Sant Just i Pastor, rumored to be the oldest church in the city.
  • We’ll end our stroll with dinner at Els Quatre Gats, a local favorite founded in 1897 that once played host to famous artists such as Gaudí and Picasso throughout Catalonia’s modernist period. Here, we’ll raise our glasses to celebrate the beginning of our exciting week in Barcelona.
Day 2
Montjuic & Museum Vaults
  • Today after breakfast at the hotel, we'll begin the day with a visit to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, housed within the Palau Nacional, a grandiose, hilltop edifice.
  • Here, we'll have a chance to explore the museum vaults for an opportunity to unveil the secrets of the National Palace itself. These vaults are home to Romanesque paintings, Gothic and Renaissance sculptures, and Baroque and Romantic masterpieces. Among the most impressive private rooms (back above ground), we will visit the Josep Lluís Sert Gallery, with original paintings from Victor Sasson's Art Déco mansion in London.
  • Afterwards, we'll rest and enjoy lunch at the restaurant Oleum, located in the former throne room of Spanish king Alfonso XIII and boasting the best panoramic views of Barcelona.
  • After lunch, we invite you to rediscover Barcelona's great International Exposition of 1929 held atop Montjuïc, a mountain revered as magical since antiquity.
  • This evening, you are free to relax, wander, and dine on your own, though you're also welcome to join your guides at one of their favorite local spots. 
Day 3
The Golden Age of Spectacle
  • Today, we'll venture into the Raval district. We'll be devoting our attention to art, science, medicine, and death, and exploring aristocratic palaces and former medical institutions.
  • Our first stop will be the splendid private club at the Liceu Theater, a treasure of 19th-century art nouveau. We'll then visit the Rococo anatomical amphitheater—one of the most well preserved in the world—located at the Royal College of Surgeons.
  • Next, we'll hear about the decadent Belle Époque era in Raval and the frightening story of Enriqueta Martí, a serial killer said to be the “vampire of Raval.” 
  • For lunch, we'll settle in at Fonda Espanya, a restaurant located in a fabulous hotel built by the prominent architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who also designed the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Hospital de Sant Pau.
  • In the afternoon, we'll dive into Barcelona's sin city: “Barri Xino,” the former “Chinese district,” frequented in the 1930s by writers such as Jean Genet and Georges Bataille. Tracing the route of their adventures, we'll pass through a neighborhood defined by its scandalous brothels, cabarets, and clubs.
  • We'll soon find ourselves on "Avinguda del Paral·lel," a street that was devoted to spectacle between 1894 and 1936, often compared to Broadway in New York or the Montmartre in Paris.
  • Our day tops off at the tango bar Tinta Roja, a magnificent venue where we'll enjoy a cocktail and a tribute to the golden age of spectacle in Barcelona: a performance by one of Barcelona's best in the contemporary cabaret scene.
Day 4
Freemasons & Barcelona's 19th Century
  • This morning, we'll kick off the day with a visit to the beautiful Biblioteca Pública Arús, a former masonic temple that remains incredibly well preserved.
  • We'll have a light lunch of traditional Catalan cuisine at Can Culleretes. Founded in 1786, it is the oldest active restaurant in the city.
  • After lunch, we'll continue to Palau Güell, an astonishing aristocratic residence built by Antoni Gaudí for his patron, Eusebi Güell. Güell, one of the richest men in Spain, commissioned the world-famous Park Güell, replete with its iconic mosaics.
  • This evening, we're exploring experiences of the Spanish Civil War through a unique dinner arranged by Culinary Backstreets. Our sit-down meal in a beautifully preserved modernist apartment will feature several courses from Catalan “war menu” recipes that were preserved from this period of history. The Spanish Civil War and the period that followed arrived on the heels of a decadent time in Barcelona. Culinary and cultural developments were at a high just as bombs began raining down on the city, continuing for years. Even while food shortages, rationing, and a black market became part of daily life, the creative spirit of the city’s citizens still shined bright. This dinner celebrates the culinary ingenuity under pressure that came out of the Civil War-era in Barcelona.  
Day 5
Occult Treasures & Piano Performance
  • This morning, we begin in the former village of Sant Gervasi with an unusual tour through the splendor and decadence of bourgeois Barcelona. We'll meander along Tibidabo Avenue and visit the palace which hosted the Soviet embassy in 1936, and learn in detail about Soviet intervention in the Spanish Civil War.
  • We'll trace the path of aristocratic residences, such as the Villa Hispanoárabe, an incredible private residence inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada. After this tour, you'll understand why Barcelona was called “the City of Prodigies” between 1888 and 1936.
  • For lunch, we'll settle into the restaurant Asador de Aranda.
  • After lunch, we'll visit the Almirall Library. Notorious for its masonic architecture, it is now a private residence. Here, we'll enjoy a relaxed and romantic evening, with a glass of cava—a traditional Catalan drink very similar to champagne—and a classical music concert. The private piano performance will feature the music of famous composers who lived close to Tibidabo, such as Richard Strauss and Enrique Granados. Sit back and soak in the music within this serene historic space.
Day 6
Gràcia & Private Atelier Gala
  • Today, we'll explore the history of science and medicine with a visit inside the Sant Pau i la Santa Creu complex. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul), now a World Heritage Site, is an extraordinary example of Catalan neogothic architecture, home to spectacular sculptures and mosaics. We'll be able to visit nearly all of the complex, erected between 1905 and 1930 by Lluís Domenech i Muntaner and his son.
  • For lunch, we'll drop into the restaurant Da Greco, which has a variety of delicious pastas and seafoods. The restaurant is located in Gràcia, one of Barcelona's most exciting districts. An independent village until 1897, it's well known today for being one of the biggest cultural centers in the city.
  • This afternoon before our exciting final soirée, take some time to rest or wander on your own. 
  • This evening, we'll enter Oleguer Junyent's workshop, an extraordinary Belle Époque atelier. Venture into the private art studio of a Catalan genius who devoted his life to painting, writing, collecting, and stage design. In addition to Oleguer's paintings, sculptures, models, and various other works, the workshop contains one of the most complete collections of automata in the city.
  • Here in this unique atelier, we'll pay tribute to Barcelona's most memorable Carnival nights with a private dinner, the best wines, and opera and mentalism performances inspired by the Masquerades from the Belle Époque. 
Day 7
Barcelona Farewell
  • Wake up and enjoy breakfast at your leisure. This morning, we bid farewell to new friends, fellow explorers, and wonderful guides. Depart for flights or trains home, or onto your next destination.
  • While this is the official end of our time together, we are happy to arrange you extra nights if you'd like to extend your time in Barcelona, and to provide suggestions for other things to do and see.
  • Until the next adventure!
The Fine Print

YOUR BARCELONA TRIP INCLUDES

  • All lodging in double-accommodation rooms at the Hotel Regina for the duration of the tour. (Single supplement for a private room is available for $530. Otherwise we'll work to place individuals of the same gender together.)
  • Daily breakfast at the hotel, five lunches, and two dinners.
  • Two expert guides, with a great depth and breadth of knowledge about Barcelona, its elaborate history, and its vibrant arts and culture.
  • Admission to all proposed activities and events.
  • A full briefing packet for each explorer, including logistical and contact information, recommended reading list, and packing list.
  • A curious group of fellow Atlas Obscura explorers, excited to discover all that Barcelona  has to offer!

ACTIVITY LEVEL

We recommend you have a medium fitness level to fully participate in this trip. You should be comfortable staying on your feet for long stretches at a time, and walking anywhere between 3 to 6 miles a day. We will be out and about most of each day, with time to rest at lunch and dinner, both of which will take place on the later side.

PAYMENT

You will be charged a $500 deposit to hold your space. This deposit is non-refundable after three days. The final payment of $2,975 will be due by December 3, 2018. All reservations will be final after this date, and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to our Terms & Conditions. For those wishing to have a single room and/or extra nights, optional supplements will be included with the final payment. 

TRAVELERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR

  • Transportation and flights to and from Barcelona.
  • Transportation from the Barcelona airport (or other origin) to the group's hotel.
  • Individual travel insurance (optional).
  • Baggage charges.
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings.

OTHER QUESTIONS?

Please email us at trips@atlasobscura.com or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment. 

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