Barcelona, Anzoátegui

Barcelona, Anzoátegui

Barcelona is the capital of Anzoátegui State, Venezuela. Founded in 1671, Barcelona, together with Puerto La Cruz, Lecheria and Guanta, formed one of the most important urban areas of Venezuela. The airport, Aeropuerto Internacional General José Antonio Anzoátegui, is situated in Barcelona.

Unlike Puerto La Cruz, which was mostly built in the twentieth century, Barcelona has well-preserved colonial architecture.Fact|date=May 2007 Due to its historical buildings and tourism infrastructure, the city offers attractive options for the tourists visiting the eastern coast of Venezuela. Colonial buildings surround the Plaza Boyaca, the original plaza built when the city was founded. The city's cathedral, named Iglesia El Carmen, was built between 1748 and 1773; a long period that included extensive repairs for damages caused by an earthquake. The surroundings there are very quaint and picturesque, contrasting with the modernism found in the center of the city.

One of the most interesting colonial building is the Museo de Anzoátegui, the oldest building in the city, built in 1671Fact|date=May 2007. Other important historical areas are centered around the three main plazas: Bolivar, Miranda and Boyacá.

La Casa Fuerte (Strong House or House Fort, depending on translation), a national historic monument which was initially built over the ruins of the old Convento de San Francisco, is located on the Avenida 5 de Julio. In 1811, during the Venezuelan Independence War, La Casa Fuerte was turned into a fortification by Republican defenders to protect the city from the attacks of the Spanish. On April 17, 1817, the house was taken and destroyed by royalist forces, which killed all 1,600 people barricaded inside. Its ruins stand now as a reminder of the great suffering that characterized Venezuela's War of Independence. The ruins are framed by statues of martyred heroes Eulalia Buroz and Pedro María Freites.

Between Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz is the El Morro tourism complex, an immense network of canals built to house thousands of local and international tourists in condos, apartments and hotels. The complex is home to many marinas and boatyards and is a popular cruising destination for yachtsmen. The canals crisscross the complex, affording virtually every dwelling access to the sea. One of the most ambitious developments within el Morro is the Maremares Resort and Spa, originally built by Daniel Camejo. Once a five-star hotel that hosted a summit between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuba Prime Minister Fidel Castro, it has fallen on hard times and its pools, lagoons, and golf courses are poorly maintained. At one point in early 2006, its entire air conditioning plant was non-functional for several weeks and guests had difficulty to walk down the pier at its marina without tripping over sprung planks.

Close to El Morro is the modern shopping center Centro Commercial Plaza Mayor, built in the colorful Dutch colonial style, similar to those found in Curaçao.

The principal beaches that surround Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz are Isla de Plata, Conoma, Arapito, Cangrejo, Lecherias and playa Mansa. These beaches offer many open-air restaurants that serve delicious seafood dishes. Puerto La Cruz is also the entry point of Mochima National Park, one of the most spectacular in the country. From its port, the tourist can take a ferry to Margarita Island, and also hire a boat to take a ride to the neighboring islands, such as Las Chimanas, Cachicamo and Borracha. At the end of the day, tourists and local people go to the Paseo Colón (Columbus promenade) to take a walk, preparing their appetite for a nice dinner in one of the various restaurants of the area.

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