At the end of the 19th century, the first steam golondrinas made short trips round the harbour with a hundred passengers on board, for whom it was quite an adventure. Today the old golondrinas have been replaced by super modern catamarans but the pleasure of sailing and admiring the city from the sea remains the same.
A good port
Las Golondrinas is actually the name of the company that bought the first steam boats and acquired a licence to make harbour crossings during the Universal Exposition in 1888. Following that, throughout the 20th century a boat trip on board a golondrina became one of the main attractions for children and adults, and was only interrupted by the Civil War.
The catamarans that leave from the Columbus statue these days offer a trip that lasts more than an hour and goes as far as the Forum in Sant Adrià de Besòs. They have a lower deck with windows below the sea's surface that offer passengers underwater views. But there are also three, twin-decked, traditional golondrinas still in service that date from the 1940s and are made of wood.
There has only been one serious accident in the history of this popular pastime. That was in 1922, when a ship collided with a golondrina causing many injuries and 10 fatalities.
Barcelona from the Mediterranean
Both the traditional golondrinas and the catamarans offer passengers an unusual view of Barcelona: from the sea. On board these boats it is easy to imagine pirates closing in on the city or the many naval battles that have taken place off the coast here.
Today, though, the tranquil trip lets you enjoy the maritime skyline with the Columbus Monument, Hotel W, Agbar Tower, Maremàgnum shopping complex, Montjuïc, Hotel Arts and Mapfre Tower, among other buildings.