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April 1st, 2013 

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Barcelona, Venezuela

 

 Located in the center of the Venezuelan coastline, Barcelona is a city that offers both rich colonial history and gorgeous Caribbean beaches. As the capital of the AnzoŠtegui State, Barcelona serves as a main tourist destination and jump-off point to islands further north.

 Founded in the late 17th Century, Barcelona draws on both Spanish and Dutch colonial influences in everything from architecture to food. One of the most famous buildings in Barcelona, La Casa Fuerte, was built atop an old convent. Amidst the Venezuelan Independence War, La Casa Fuerte (The Strong House in English) was converted into a fort for Republican troops fighting the Spanish forces. However, after six years of fighting, Spanish forces broke into La Casa Fuerte and killed its 1,600 inhabitants. The house stands today as a reminder of the cost of Venezuelan independence, but tourists can get a free tour courtesy of the Venezuelan government.

 For classic colonial architecture, look no further than Barcelona's cathedral and Church of El Carmen. Whitewashed spires beckon the traveler to enter and behold the beautiful, dark interiors. The cathedral holds remains of Saint Celestine, thus photos are not allowed. Constructed between 1748 and 1773, the cathedral took a while to complete because an earthquake caused damage during the construction. The oldest building in the city, Museo de AnzoŠtegui, now serves as a local museum.

 But don't think too hard about history - Barcelona's beautiful beaches await you. Isla de Plata, Lecherias, Conoma, Cangrejo, and Playa Mansa beaches are easily accessible from the city, offering beautiful views from open air beachfront restaurants. Still not wild enough? Then check out Mochima National Park, which includes coastal jungles and 32 islands lying just offshore. In the evening, take a walk down the bustling Paseo Colůn, where locals have an evening out on the town.

 

 Barcelona's neighboring town, Puerto la Cruz, offers other options to the traveler. Ferries to Margarita Island, Las Chimanas Island, and the uninhabited Cubagua Island are available from the port in this town. Puerto la Cruz also offers a more modern sensibility, with skyscrapers and a downtown area, than Barcelona's colonial history.

 Between Puerto la Cruz and Barcelona lies El Morro tourism complex, a collection of canals, resorts, and hotels catered to Barcelona's booming tourism industry. Nearby, the Centro Commercial Plaza Mayor, designed and painted in the Dutch colonial style, offers shopping and food options.

 Barcelona is served by GenerŠl Josť Antonio AnzoŠtegui International Airport as well as numerous bus services from neighboring cities. Isn't it time you checked out Barcelona's Caribbean colonial history?

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