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The 10 best museums outside Barcelona

Get out of town for insight into art, archaeological sites and the history of Catalonia – plus, some incredible views – in these top 10 museums outside Barcelona

©Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2014

You may be familiar with the best museums in Barcelona, but did you know that some of the best and most popular Catalan museums are located outside the Catalan capital? Dalí, for example, left a single centre full of surrealism in his native Figueres. The iconic mountain of Montserrat has one of the most prestigious art galleries in the country, and in Tarragona you can admire mosaics and many other masterpieces left by the Romans, including remains such as the Amphitheatre, the Roman walls and the Roman circus, to name just a few. Take a break from the city and visit 10 of the best museums located just a few kilometers from Barcelona.

Teatre-Museu Dalí

The legacy of a genius; that’s what you’ll come across if you take a stroll around the centre of Figueres, the capital of the Alt Empordà region, which is home to the Teatre-Museu Salvador Dalí. Contemplating the work of Catalonia’s most iconic surrealist is a unique experience for all five senses. From paintings and engravings to photography, sculpture and holograms, here you’ll find Dalí’s imaginative universe in all its splendour.

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Montserrat Museum

This museum never takes a day off. It shows the cream of the crop of the abbey’s heritage, gathered from the Napoleonic devastation. The museum opened in 1963, but its contents date back to 1911, with objects from the monk Bonaventura Ubach’s expedition to the Middle East. The modernist rooms from Puig i Cadalfalch feature, over two floors, both old and contemporary paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, Byzantine icons, jewellery, archaeological pieces from the biblical world, and 'Nigra Sum', about the adventures of the Virgin of Montserrat.

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mNACTEC

The Catalan modernist-style Aymerich, Amat i Jover factory has been home to the Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia for the last two decades. It features around a dozen permanent and various temporary exhibits that reflect the scientific advances that have changed our lives and document Catalonia’s industrial heritage. The museum collection is also spread out in 25 territorial museums, and the Generalitat government is planning to integrate all of them in the new National History Museum.

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National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona

This is the oldest archaeological museum in Catalonia and an important centre for the recovery, conservation, research and dissemination of the heritage of the Roman city of Tarraco and its area of influence. On display are numerous pieces from the Roman era, and the mosaics are considered to be of special value. Other sites also make up the museum, including the Roman villas of Munts and Centelles.

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Jewish History Museum

The main objective of Girona’s Jewish History Museum is to preserve and make public the history of the Jewish communities of Catalonia, who, throughout the Middle Ages, contributed decisively to the country’s historical, cultural and scientific development. The visit attempts to bring to life episodes from the Jewish history of Girona. These examples, whether documentary, archaeological or iconographic, offer a general explanation of the ways of Jewish life in medieval Catalonia.

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Badalona Museum

On display in the basement of the museum is a slice of urban life in the town in Roman times which gives an idea of the importance of Beatulo (Badalona) two millennia ago and especially of its springs. Also on display are other exhibits from Roman times, and with the same ticket you can visit other sites in the city that are also connected to the era of the emperors and legionnaires.

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Religious Art Museums

The weight that the Catholic religion has had in the history of Catalonia can be seen in streets and churches, but also in many museums devoted exclusively to objects related to the Christian faith. Here you can find pieces, many of great historical and/or artistic interest, that are best preserved and are protected away from their original location. The Romanesque and Gothic periods are the major contributors to the collections.

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Archaeological Museum of Catalunya - Empúries

This is an archaeological site of great interest, since it brings together in one place the remains of a Greek town (the first that existed on the peninsula) and a Roman town, and all on the Gulf of Rosas. The archaeological site is outdoors, while in the museum you can see pieces found in the excavations, as well as the most iconic statue found on the site, that of Asclepius.

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Patrimoni de la Humanitat de la Vall de Boí

Patrimoni de la Humanitat de la Vall de Boí

The Boí Valley is known for its picturesque scenery, including the Romanesque architecure that reached its heights here. All the villages in the region (Cóll, Cardet, Barruera, Durro, Erill la Vall, Taüll...) are jewels in themselves, but in Taüll you'll find an ensemble of churches that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among them is Sant Clement i Santa Maria de Taüll, where you can see a projection of the famous Romanesque fresco depicting the Christ Pantocrator on the church’s apse (the original fresco is in the National Art Museum of Catalonia, in the National Palace of Montjuïc).

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Parc Arqueològic Mines de Gavà

The Interpretation Centre at the Gavà prehistoric mine site brings back what life here was like 6,000 years ago, when the local Neolithic community began to work the variscite mines. As well as offering visits to a small part of the mine, the centre features audiovisual and explanatory modules and a scale reproduction of the mines. Many of the items discovered here can be found in the Gavà Museum.

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