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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

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Neighborhoods of Barcelona, Milan, and Berlin: Discovering Hidden Gems

Evening Program

Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1M2061A

From top: Park Guell, Barcelona; Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, and Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Barcelona, Milan, and Berlin have been crucibles of culture and experimentation for centuries, instrumental in changing the course of European history. They’ve also long been magnets for talented and unconventional residents, many of whom gravitate to distinctive and colorful neighborhoods. In districts as familiar as the Ramblas, the Piazza del Duomo, and the Brandenburg Gate, there are still many special places beloved by locals that are overlooked by visitors.

Fred Plotkin, a popular Smithsonian speaker on culture, history, and music, has lived in and visited Barcelona, Milan, and Berlin over more than four decades. Join him for a richly illustrated series in which he looks at these places through the eyes of a flâneur—a French term for a person whose casual strolls through city streets produce delight in their chance discoveries. He shares what he’s found on his walks: churches, theaters, specialty shops, restaurants, cafes, and unusual museums just a stone’s throw from world-famous landmarks.



Following the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona became one of the most popular destinations in the world. Several neighborhoods were overwhelmed with tourists, and in the process, lost much of their special character. The stubborn citizens, deeply proud of their Catalan identity, went to great lengths to preserve tangible evidence of their culture. As a result, attentive visitors can still find restaurants that serve strictly local food and visit churches, stores (such as the oldest candle shop in Spain), a chocolate museum, and ancient Jewish burial grounds important to Barcelonans. The Diagonal district, created a century ago, is full of lesser-known destinations of all kinds that conserve genuine Barcelona traditions.

If you are interested in other sessions of this course, click here.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)