Welcome to

Barcelona

Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain after Madrid with a population of 1,700 000 intra-muros when five million people live in the whole Barcelona metropolitan area. Barcelona is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea and the fourth economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union. Widely spoken Catalan and Spanish are both the official languages.

Let's go

The name

Barcelona's name is sometimes abbreviated as 'Barna'. Spanish and Catalan people also use the 3 letters - BCN - which actually corresponds to the IATA airport code of the Barcelona-El Prat Airport. The city is also referred to as the "ciudad condal" in Spanish and "ciutat comtal" in Catalan, reffering to its past as home to the Count of Barcelona. 'Barça' often used by foreigners is in fact the popular name of the F.C. Barcelona sports club, the world famous football team!

History

Founded as a Roman city (15 BC) , Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. Some important Roman ruins could be seen under the Plaça del Rei, its entrance located by the city museum. Roman grid plan is still visible today in the layout of the historical centre, the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter). Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the cathedral (the Basilica La Seu founded in 343).

Later on Barcelona was conquered by the Visigoths in the 5th century, by the Arabs in the early 8th century and by Charlemagne's son Louis, who made Barcelona the seat of the Carolingian "Hispanic March" (Marca Hispanica), a buffer zone ruled by the Count of Barcelona.

In 1137, Aragon and the County of Barcelona merged in dynastic union known as the Crown of Aragon, which conquered many overseas possessions and ruled the western Mediterranean Sea with outlying territories in Naples and Sicily and as far as Athens in the 13th century.

In 1469 with the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, Madrid became the centre of political power whilst the colonisation of the Americas reduced the financial importance of Mediterranean trade.
Barcelona has a very rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination.

Points of Interest

World Heritage Sites: Mostly Gaudi's work

During your stay we invite you warmly to visit Gaudí’s Masterpieces.
Barcelona is marked by the print of Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) the genius architect.

Inspired by the organic shapes of nature, Gaudí studied every detail of his creations integrating into his architecture a series of crafts in which he was skilled: ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.. Its style Orientalist, Neo-gothic, Naturalist, Modernist was eclectic and most of all a true quest for a new architectural language..

Today seven Gaudi's buildings are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Sagrada Família

During your stay we invite you warmly to visit Gaudí’s Masterpieces.
Barcelona is marked by the print of Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) the genius architect.

The last years of its life were totally devoted to the Basilica. Its style is variously likened to Spanish Late Gothic, Catalan Modernism and to Art Nouveau. Absolutly unique this church is certainly the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages…

As it relied on private donations completion is not expected until at least 2026 - the centenary of Gaudí's death - but you can discover with this video what the Sagrada Família will look like when finished :

Park Güell

Park Güell was designed and built by Antoni Gaudí in the years 1900 to 1914. Originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, it is today a municipal garden.

Walk thru this modernist park to discover the multicolored mosaic salamande, the unique shape of the serpentine bench and a terraced area where you get a wonderful view of Barcelona. Park Güell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Casa Milà

Located at Passeig de Gràcia, 92, Casa Milà is also known ironically as La Pedrera: the "quarry". Built from 1906 to 1912 by Antoni Gaudí this building was indeed criticized in its time for all its excesses considered today as architectural and artistic progresses. Opened to the public one visits it for its famous roof terrace.
Casa Milà is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Casa Batlló

Not far from Casa Milà, the Casa Batlló (Passeig de Gràcia, 43) is another masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí. Built from 1905 to 1907 for the Batlló’s family this Catalan Modernist building is entirely made of curves, irregular oval windows, flowing sculpted stone work decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís). The roof is said to be inspired by Saint George Killing the Dragon (Saint George is the patron saint of Catalonia). You can visit it.

Palau Güell

Palau Güell was built by Antoni Gaudí between 1886 and 1891 for the rich industrial Eusebi Güell. One of the principal difficulties that Gaudí had to surmount was the relative exiguity of the building. It thus organized rooms on several levels, benefitting even from the terrace where it laid out twenty extravagant chimneys, covered of ceramics; they also act as air vents and well of light. Closed from 2004 to 2011 for restoration, it’s now open to public. Palau Güell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Other monuments

Palau de la Música Catalana

The Palau de la Música Catalana is another architectural jewel of Catalan Art Nouveau. Designed by Domènech i Montaner around a central metal structure covered in glass, which exploits natural light. It’s today a very famous concert hall and an essential landmark in the cultural and social life of Barcelona. Of course you should visit it but another great idea is to book a ticket to see spectacles as varied as concerts of classical music, opera, dance, flamenco…

Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron of Barcelona, a young virgin who suffered martyrdom during Roman times. According to Catholic tradition it is said that she was exposed naked in the public square and a miraculous snowfall in mid-spring covered her nudity. Furious, the Romans put her into a barrel with knives stuck into it and rolled it down a street. The cathedral has a secluded Gothic cloister where 13 white geese are kept, the number explained by the assertion that Eulalia was 13 when she was martyred.

Church of Santa Maria del Mar

Church of Santa Maria del Mar is an imposing church in the Ribera built between 1329 and 1383. It is an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic, with a purity and unity of style that are very unusual in large mediaeval buildings. The history says that during the construction a fundamental contribution was made by the dockers (“bastaixos”) of the port of Ribera, who transported the blocks of stone, one by one, of the career of Montjuïc or the beach where the boats discharged them to the building site from the church. If the cathedral of Saint Eulalia represented the monarchy, the authority, the richness, the high clergy. The church Santa Maria del Mar was as for it to be the symbol of the humility and the faith of the fishermen who built it.

Museums

Barcelona has a great number of museums, which cover different eras. The National Museum of Art of Catalonia possesses a well-known collection of Romanesque art while the MACBA Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art focuses on post-1945 Catalan and Spanish art.

The Joan Miró Foundation

The Joan Miró Foundation opened to the public on June 1975. The building in the Montjuïc parc was designed by Josep Lluís Sert, architect and close friend of Joan Miró. In accordance with the wishes of the Maestro, this institution is also to promote and publicize the work of contemporary artists in all its aspects. Designed in accordance with the principles of Rationalist architecture, with different spaces set around a central patio in the traditional Mediterranean style. The major part of this collection was donated to the Foundation by Joan Miró himself. The collection currently comprises over 14,000 pieces from paintings, to sculptures, textiles, ceramics and some 8,000 drawings.

The Picasso museum of Barcelona

The Picasso museum of Barcelona is devoted to the most important Spanish artist, in the city where Pablo Picasso spent the first period of its life of young adult. 4000 of its works cover the period of 1890 to 1967 but the majority of the museum presents the first work of the artist like his childhood. At the 14 years age, Picasso moved with its family from Malaga to Barcelona. This city being also the place of its first exposure dating from February 1, 1900 to the cabaret Els Four Gats, it is logical that it accommodates a so broad collection of its first work. Moreover, these works being time when Picasso lived in Barcelona, the collection reflects the relation which it maintained with the city.

The Tàpies Foundation

Antoni Tàpies, painter, sculptor and art theorist is certainly the best-known Catalan artist to emerge in the period since the Second World War. In 1984, he created The Tàpies Foundation, dedicated to the study of modern art. In 1990 it opened a museum and library in the premises of a former publishing house in Barcelona. Its holdings include nearly 2,000 examples of his work.

German Pavilion

Only one city in the world could have its history made by a chair. And this city is of course Barcelona and the world known Barcelona chair. The history started in 1929 during the International Exhibition. Germany asked architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to design the German Pavilion. Known for its simple form and its spectacular use of extravagant materials, such as marble, red onyx and travertine the building is now part of history of modern architecture. But at the same time Mies van der Rohe designed the prestigious furniture for the Pavilion, among which the iconic Barcelona chair. The Pavilion and its furniture are open to public.. History continues..

City visits

If you stay only few days in Barcelona, these are the districts we invite you to visit.
The city centre of Barcelona is small enough to let you discover it by walking..

El Raval

El Raval district was known years ago as the Barrio Chino district. Totally transformed it offers today typical places like the Boqueria market, the Guell Palace, the Monasteri Sant Pail del Camp, the Hospital de la Santa Creu. The MACBA the Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona and the CCCB the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Center, known for the quality of their exhibitions, are in same district.

Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas is the most animated artery of the city. It was the place where people from Barcelona used to meet. In the 19C this was the only place in Barcelona where flowers were sold. The flower market now stands alongside great kiosks selling books, magazines and newspaper from Spain and abroad. Stoll under the threes, admire the street artists, look at the alive statues…

Barrio Gotico

In the Barrio Gotico you will travel into time. This is one of the oldest area of the city. Walk around the little streets around the Cathedral. Discover the antique dealers, or the feathers and umbrellas' merchants in the street Banys. Points of interest are the Cathedral of Santa Creu, Placa Sant Jaume, Placa del Rei, Plca Nova, Placa del Pi and the Barcelona City Museum.

El Born

El Born (La Ribera) is a small village in the city. Fashion but very authentic. Don't hesitate to roam into the little streets to breathe the old Barcelona. Charged with history, witness of the commercial prosperity of XIII century, El Born forms with the Barrio Gótico the old city of Barcelona. Not to miss are the Music Palace, the Picasso Museum, El Born CC and the church of Santa Maria del Mar..

Barceloneta

The Barceloneta (small Barcelona) is the traditional district of sailors and fishermen. Mediterranean colours and delicious restaurants are in the menu. It is an obligatory passage before going to the beach..

The beach

The beach. From the Barceloneta district to the Universal Forum of Cultures district, Barcelona offers 4.5 kilometers of coastline. Most know beaches are Sant Sebastià, Barceloneta, Somorrostro, Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant. After the 1992 Summer Olympics a new district appeared, The Olympic Harbour. A place that invites to the movement, during the day as well as at night : water sports, discotheques, bars. It is always in effervescence..

Two words about local traditions.

Castellers

Don’t be surprised to see people climbing on each other once in a while in Barcelona. They are called the “castellers and the human tower /castele is called a “castell”. The tradition of building castells originated in Valls, near the city of Tarragona, in the southern part of Catalonia towards the end of the 18th century. Very impressive..

Sardana

In front of the cathedral you might discover another tradition: The Sardana. A type of circle dance typical of Catalonia. Already popular in the 16th century, it’s today declared a festivity of national interest by the Catalonia government. Music for the sardana is played by a cobla, a band consisting of 10 wind instruments, double bass and a tamborí (very small drum) played by 11 musicians… A beautiful expression of the Catalan culture..

FC Barcelona

To finish this journey in Barcelona, have a look to another aspect of the Catalan Culture, maybe the most popular one. Every week-end entire family including grand-parents and child are going to the famous Camp Nou stadium to support the local football team: The FC Barcelona best known as the Barça!!
It is said to be the best team in world..

Thank you

Credits

Thank to all of you. We used to design this "Welcome page" with best pictures and videos we found on Internet. Some are absolutely astonishing .. You are really talented!!

Photos

#1 Welcome to Barcelona - MasterLu - Fotolia.com - #3 History - Italian Airforce - barcelonabombardejada.cat - #5 Sagrada Familia - Serge Melki - Wikimedia - #6 Park Güell - Angela Llop - Wikimedia - #8 Casa Batlló - tato grasso - Wikimedia - #9 Palau Güell - Jun Seita - Wikimedia - #10 Palau de la Música Catalana - Josep Renalias - Wikimedia - #11 Cathedral of the Holy Cross - Pierre Gronau - #11 Church of Santa Maria del Mar - jorapa - Wikimedia - #14 The Joan Miró Foundation - Christine Zenino - Wikimedia - #18 El Raval - Alain Rouiller - Wikimedia - #26 FC Barcelona - Markus Unger - Wikimedia

All other photos - copyright Barcelona Inc.

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