Barcelona, the famous capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, is located in northeastern Spain on the Mediterranean Sea. The metropolis has almost 7 million inhabitants, making it the second-largest city in the country after Madrid.
The city has a Mediterranean climate, with long, dry summers and short, mild winters. Although it has a few extremes in temperature, it can be so hot in July and August that many residents flee the city.
However, this Mediterranean city with its fascinating history and beautiful architecture is, especially in the summertime, a popular destination for tourists. The population speaks mainly Catalan but for tourists also Spanish and sometimes English. Although it is now a safe city, Barcelona is known for its many business rollers.
From then to now
There are various stories about the foundation of Barcelona. According to the Greeks, it was Hercules who founded the city hundreds of years before Rome was founded. According to another story, it was Hannibal’s father, the Carthage Hamilcar Barkas, who founded the city in the third century BC.
What we know for sure is that the city was around 200 BC. and came into the hands of Carthage and in 218 BC. was conquered by the Romans, who turned it into a military establishment. From the fifth century onwards, the city has been in the hands of the Visigoths, the Moors, the Franks, and the Spanish Count Borrell II. Under his leadership, Barcelona grew into one of the most important trading cities in the 13th and 14th centuries. From this period is the Barri Gotic district, where the narrow streets now have shops.
After the Catalan Uprising (1640 – 1651), followed by the War of Succession (1706 – 1714), Catalonia lost its independence and Barcelona lost its power. In the 19th century, the city revived, and substantial additions were made, including the L’Eixample district, known for shopping streets La Rambla and Passeig de Gracia, and the works of Gaudí.
The world exhibition followed in 1929, which once again gave Barcelona prestige. The economy and industry grew back, until the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Dictator Franco ended the autonomy of Catalonia and turned Barcelona into an industrial city, making it disproportionate. Only after Franco died in 1975 did Catalonia regain its independence.
For the 1992 Summer Olympics, Barcelona was restored and modernized, and beaches were built. This transformation, led by architect Oriol Bohigas I Guardiola, has shaped Barcelona today.
Another prominent architect we immediately think of in Barcelona is, of course, Antoni Gaudí. During his lifetime, he designed around 1900 buildings and objects, most of which are in Barcelona.
His best-known work is the Sagrada Familia, an organic-style basilica, which has been continuously worked on since 1982 (except for the Spanish Civil War). He was little appreciated in his time but was financially supported by textile magnate Eusebi Güell, for whom he designed Palau Güell and Park Güell, among others. His style falls under “Catalan modernism”, more of which can be seen in Barcelona. Gaudí’s works are now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.