This museum uses “the memory of a country” as its tagline, and it’s one of the best cultural history museums we’ve seen anywhere. The coverage begins in the Lower Paleolithic era and works its way up to the present—quickly. Historic exhibits linger at some high points of the Catalan experience, such as the reigns of Jaume I and Jaume II when Catalunya was a major Mediterranean power, and the 19th-century industrial revolution that made Catalunya in general and Barcelona in particular rich and powerful. The 20th-century coverage is almost giddy as it depicts a vibrant Barcelona in the first few decades—and almost numbing as it accounts the horrors of the Civil War and the four decades the region then spent as Franco’s whipping boy. (The era since Franco’s death seems less well digested, but history museums usually have the advantage of hindsight.) It’s worth visiting just to appreciate the building, the Palau de Mar, the last surviving 19th-century Barcelona warehouses. The 4th-floor restaurant, 1881, has a spectacular terrace with great views of the port and waterfront. It’s not necessary to book a meal—most people come just for a drink and the view.