Barcelona, perhaps more than any city in the world, feels as if it sprouted and grew from the earth beneath it. Its monumentally organic spaces, a pan-stylistic architecture from nature-inspired designers that run the gamut from Gaudí to Gehry, emphasizes curves, imperfection and tactility rather than the mix of classical façades and rectilinear Modernist blocks of other European cities.
The city's urban forms draw on both land and sea, nestled as they are on a placid east-facing Mediterranean coast. Even Le Corbusier's rigorous lines are softened and tempered here, their natural materials seeming to merge with the water and greenery of their setting.
And the city feels alive: it is verdant and lush with plants and awash in the warmth of Catalan and Spanish and southern French cultures. The writer Carlos Ruiz Zafrón once said, "I see cities as organisms, as living creatures. To me, Madrid is a man and Barcelona is a woman." And she is a beautiful, living woman.