Read about the city

Barcelona is the Catalan capital with millions of inhabitants and a magnificent location on the warm Mediterranean coast. Today, Barcelona is in Spain, but the Catalan history, language and culture clearly make the city and region different to the rest of Spain, and this is interesting to see as a visitor.

Over time, amazing buildings have been built in the various neighborhoods, of which Barri Gotic is the old medieval center with cozy streets, distinguished squares and churches and palaces from ancient times, where rulers of the city were in power. The old town feeling is enjoyed among other places on the beautiful Plaça del Rei and at the cathedral.

Eixample is the district where you will find many of the famous works of modernism, which for many visitors is the main reason for a trip to the city. When you say Barcelona and modernism, you automatically think of the world famous architect Antonio Gaudí. Barcelona was his city and his designs are seen in many places in the city. His masterpieces include La Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila and Park Güell.

Barcelona also opens up to the water, and here is the port worth seeing as well as a walk to the neighborhood of Barceloneta. The many tour boats offer interesting harbor cruises, and in Barceloneta you can both eat delicious seafood and take a dip in the Mediterranean almost in the middle of the Catalan capital.

Other attractions

Placa de Catalunya, Barcelona

  • Catalonia Square/Plaça de Catalunya: This is the center of Barcelona, where the old town meets the 19th century district of Eixample. It is also from Plaça de Catalunya that the Rambla starts on the way to the port of Barcelona.
  • St Jacob's Sqaure/Plaça de Sant Jaume: This is Barcelona's town hall square and the old center of the former Roman city. Today you can see the neoclassical town hall and the beautiful mansion where the regional government has its seat.

Boqueria Market, Barcelona

  • Boqueria Market/Mercat de la Boqueria: Mercat de la Boqueria is a food market with lovely experiences for the eyes and the stomach. The beautiful stalls are atmospherically located under the market halls, built in 1914.
  • Temple of Augustus/Temple d’August: A temple to Emperor Augustus was built in Barcelona’s current medieval quarter. It was erected in the first century BC. Today, preserved parts of the 2,000-year-old temple can be seen.
  • Liceu Grand Theater/Gran Teatre del Liceu: The Liceu is Barcelona's opera house, built in 1845-1847. A fire has ravaged the place twice, but both times the beautiful theater has been rebuilt.

The Royal Square, Barcelona

  • The Royal Square/Plaça Reial: This square is one of the most beautiful and harmonious in Barcelona. The surrounding buildings date from 1848-1895, and here are palm trees, benches, fountains and lampposts designed by Antoni Gaudí.
  • Güell Palace/Palau Güell: Palau Güell was Antoni Gaudí's first major construction. The house was built in 1888 for the Güell family with the industrial magnate Eusebi Güell at the helm. The house is interesting as part of Gaudí's architectural development.
  • Maritime Museum/Museu Marítim: This is Barcelona's fine maritime museum, where the Catalan maritime history is told in an interesting way. One of the highlights is a replica of a 16th century ship that took part in the naval battle of Lapanto in 1572.

Barceloneta, Barcelona

  • Barceloneta: Barceloneta is the name of a cozy district located between Barcelona's old town and the Mediterranean. Today, the neighborhood is known for delicious seafood restaurants and for Barcelona's lovely beach.
  • Citadel Park/Parc de la Ciutadella: This is one of Barcelona's large parks. The city citadel was active here until 1869, and the area was home to the World's Fair in 1888. Today there is much to see and do here. You can walk between lakes and fountains here, you can visit the Barcelona Zoo and see Catalonia's Parliament building.

Montjuïc Castle, Barcelona

  • Montjuïc Castle/Castell de Montjuïc: This castle was built in 1750 and with its towers, walls and moats is a real fortress. Castell de Montjuïc is located on a hilltop above Barcelona city center, so you can enjoy great views from here.
  • The Magic Fountain/Font Màgica: The Font Magica is the magical fountain that consists of a series of cascades and fountains created for the World's Fair in 1929. Light accompanied by music creates a lovely atmosphere and experience.
  • National Art Museum of Catalonia/Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya: This is an art museum where you can see a fine collection of Catalan and Spanish art from many centuries. The museum is housed in a sumptuous castle-like building from the 1920s.
History overview

    Read about city history

    Beginning of the City
    The first sure signs of habitation are the Thracian-Iberian tribes who settled the present Barcelona area through the 200-100 BC. They established two settlements near the center of the day; Barkeno in what is now the Old Town, and Laie on Montjuïc. In a non-permanent position was also Kallipolis, a Greek village.

    Year 218 BC is often considered the real foundation of Barcelona. This year, troops from the Carthage conquered the area during the Second Punic War. It happened under the leadership of Hamilcar Barca. Despite the particularity, however, Barcelona's name is not meant to come from Barca, but from the Iberian Barkeno.

    Roman Barcino
    The following period is little known about Barcelona's history, but the next time the area became historically interesting was under the increasing influence and conquest of new lands by the Roman Republic.

    The power of the Iberian Peninsula was a showdown between Rome and Carthage, and this battle ended Rome victoriously. With the end of the Cantabrian Wars in the year 19 BC the region and thus the settlements on the coast had come under Rome.

    Barcelona was a less significant settlement compared to, for example, Terraco and modern-day Zaragoza, and it gained Roman status of colonia named Barcino.

    Barcino's location on the trade route Via Augusta led to rapid economic growth helped by a tax-exempt status. At that time, the city consisted of 12 acres, including two main streets and a central forum.

    The population increased rapidly and during the 100's it reached 5,000. They mainly lived on trade in food and wine from the fertile area.

    Decline of the Roman Empire
    Germanic tribes increasingly came to looting from the mid-200s, and Barcino's defense works were therefore greatly expanded. City walls with 78 towers were established and made the city the most fortified in the province.

    Despite the attacks and the initial decline of the Roman Empire, some development also occurred in Barcino. The area's first bishop's seat was formed in Terraco in 259, and Bishop Preactatus was later mentioned as the first bishop of Barcino. It happened when he attended the Synod of Sardica in 347.

    Throughout the 400s, more and more Germanic tribes invaded the Iberian Peninsula, and not least the West Goths created unrest in the area of ​​Barcino during the crumbling West Roman Empire's slow dissolution, which in 476 was a definitive reality.

    With the fall of Rome, Barcino came under the kingdom of the West Goths, who were led from Tolosa; today's Toulouse. From 507, however, Gesalec moved the capital to Barcino; a status it had to 573, where the West Goths instead established government headquarters in Toledo.

    New rulers
    The centuries after the Eastern Roman Empire were marked by various rulers of Barcino, whose name also changed constantly.

    The city was, under all leaders, a strong provincial town; not least because of the large defenses built during Roman times.

    The 7th century was marked by the Muslim Moors who, from 711, penetrated the Iberian Peninsula and conquered Tarraco in 717. With the fall of Tarraco, Barcino volunteered to avoid destruction during a battle of the city which came under the Moors to was called Barshiluna.

    During the Moors' time in the city, Barshiluna's Cathedral was converted into a mosque and taxes were imposed on non-Muslims. Otherwise, the time was marked by military focus on defending the city and the area during the troubled time.

    Frankish Barcelona
    In 781, Louis became the pious king of Aquitaine, and as the son of Karl the Great and later co-ruler and king of the Franks, he was a powerful man seeking to expand the kingdom to the southwest.

    In 801, Louis conquered Barcelona from the Moors after a long siege. The newly-conquered regions became the southernmost part of the reigning Carolingian kingdom and were established as counties, which was also the case for Barcelona.

    The importance and power of the counties increased over the years, and as the Carolingians weakened, the local administration grew stronger.

    In 878, Wilfred I became the last count in Barcelona, ​​appointed by the king, and Wilfred had also gathered several counties under him and thus had a larger power base. At the death of the Count in 897, his son, Wilfred II, came to power in Barcelona, ​​and he became the last Count here to swear allegiance to the Carolingians. It increased self-government despite Barcelona formally remaining part of the French Empire until the signing of the Corbeil Treaty between Louis XV of France and Jacob I of Aragon in 1258.

    The city flourishes
    Over the centuries, Barcelona grew due to the city's strong defense and the increasing power of the local counties, which they used to develop an increasingly large part of the area whose land had been depopulated through wars for hundreds of years.

    Barcelona became the leading city in Catalonia at that time, and it was many times larger than Girona to the north. In the expansive city, the economy was good, and it was a major source of dominion; both the counts and the kings of Aragon.

    Based on, among other ancient Roman laws, the city evolved continuously, and over time Barcelona became an ever-greater competitor to Madrid's dominance in the Spanish territory.

    The time of the Castile
    In 1469, Barcelona and Madrid "married each other", as the marriage between Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile united the two great kings and thus lands. It provided peace and new opportunities, but also breeding ground for further competition between the two main cities.

    Spain was, at that time, financially driven by trade in the Mediterranean, and that increased Barcelona's strategic importance. That changed dramatically with the Spanish colonization of America, which brought new fortunes to the country and to Madrid. Barcelona's importance was declining, and although trade here continued, the growth of the colonial economy lay.

    Madrid, among other things, instructed Barcelona not to trade with the new colonies in America, and in the late 1600s Catalonia declared war on Spain and claimed independence. It happened under the protection of France. The Spanish troops led by the Castile besieged Barcelona and conquered the city.

    Spanish strife
    At the beginning of the 1700s, the Spanish War of Succession ravaged from 1701 to 1714. The war broke out with the extinction of the Spanish Habsburgs with Karl II as the last king, and the parties of the war were mainly Austria, England and the Netherlands against France. Spain was at the heart of the battle, and here Castille stayed with France and Catalonia with Austria.

    Both France and Austria had a candidate for a new Spanish king, but when Austria became emperor in 1711, France left with England and the Netherlands at the Peace in Utrecht two years later. It paved the way for the French bourbon with Philip to rule Spain.

    For Barcelona, ​​support for Austria had consequences. The Castile, on its way to the takeover, besieged the city in the years 1713-1714, and when Barcelona and the Habsburgs from Austria lost the settlement, Catalonia was ordered to abolish its regional government. At the same time, the citadel of the city was rebuilt so that it could be used for monitoring Barcelona in the future. The Catalan language was banned at the same time, so autonomy was lost in several ways with the war.

    Industrial revolution and new growth
    From the end of the 18th century a new flourishing started in Barcelona. Industry and trade became economically more important around the Mediterranean, with the Port of Barcelona a major asset.

    With the economy, other things and conditions in the city also grew. A new fort was built on Montjuïc, and here French astronomer Pierre François André Méchain was set to make measurements of various distances leading to the production of the first prototype of a meter defined as a 1: 10,000,000 by the distance from the North Pole to the Equator. The final meter stick was produced in platinum and presented in 1799 in Paris.

    In the early 1800s, growth in the city continued. Trade with the American colonies became legal again, and after a few years as part of Napoleon's France of 1812, industrial development in Barcelona as elsewhere in the country really began to take off.

    Spain's first railway was built from Barcelona to Matero, and a major wine production and iron industry was developed, among other things. The city's population also increased steadily, and over the years a greater expansion of the city's neighborhoods occurred; eg with Eixample.

    Catalan Independence
    Thoughts At the beginning of the 20th century, Catalan self-understanding rose again, and Republican thought was an issue of increasing importance to many local groups. Spain's leader Primo de Rivera later banned some political entities, and other Catalan institutions such as the FC Barcelona football club were closed.

    After the fall of Rivera in 1930, the Catalan nationalists proclaimed Catalonia as an independent state, but this was withdrawn following strong pressure from Madrid. The former regional government was reinstated, but already closed again in 1934 following political attempts to disassociate Catalonia.

    Immediately before the impending Spanish civil war, a regional government was again formed. As Franco's troops in the first period of the Civil War advanced rapidly from southern Spain, Barcelona stood on the side of the republic along with Madrid, which however fell. The Spanish government fled to Barcelona, ​​and then Franco's military was out of town. The first aerial bombings started in 1938, and in January 1939 the city fell. Spain was again united under a government in Madrid, Catalan was once again banned as a language, and all street names in the city were now written in Spanish.

    Throughout the years until Franco's death, development within Spain continued, and not least the rising international tourism to many Spanish regions, including the Costa Brava outside Barcelona, ​​triggered an economic recovery.

    Barcelona today
    After Franco's death in 1975, Catalan politicians in exile returned to Barcelona, ​​and with the accession of King Juan Carlos, autonomy was formed in Catalonia and the regional government was reinstated.

    Barcelona joined the rest of Spain in the EC in the 1980s, and it was the starting point for economic and cultural development the city had not previously experienced. An international highlight came in 1992 when the city hosted the Olympic Games. The construction and investment related to the games meant a continuation of the city's growth period with a strong increase in tourism as one of the effects.
    Skjul indhold her

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Barcelona, Spain

Top attractions

Park Güell, Barcelona

  • Park Güell: Antoni Gaudí is famous for many houses in Barcelona and also for this park, which was laid out in the years 1900-1914. The park's large terrace is the center of the area, where you can see Gaudí's design in detail. You can also visit a museum of Gaudí, located in his former residence.
  • King's Square/Plaça del Rei: Plaça del Rei is the architectural center of Barcelona's old quarter. Medieval Gothic buildings surround the square, and the former royal palace is the top attraction.

La Rambla, Barcelona

  • La Rambla: La Rambla is Barcelona's beautiful pedestrian street, where you should take a stroll to enjoy the atmosphere of the city. The street connects Plaça de Catalunya and the port of the city and there are many things to see along La Rambla.
  • The Cathedral/Catedral: This is Barcelona's impressive cathedral, which stands as one of the masterpieces of Spanish Gothic architecture. The church was built from 1298 and consecrated in 1454. You should notice the high altar, the 15th century tower and the crypt with the tomb of Santa Eulàlia.
  • Battló House/Casa Battló: Casa Battló is one of Antoni Gaudí's most famous constructions. It was designed and built with an almost vivid form of expression, and a visit here emphasizes Gaudí's special form of art nouveau architecture.

Casa Mila, Barcelona

  • Milà House/Casa Milà: The Casa Milà building is one of Antoni Gaudí's most famous edifices. It was built in 1905-1907 with an almost wave-like facade and a unique roof that is almost like a work of art in itself.
  • Palace of Catalan Music/Palau de la Música Catalana: Barcelona is known for its modernism, and this building is considered one of the masterpieces of that style. The palace was opened in 1908 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

  • La Sagrada Familia: The magnificent church, La Sagrada Familia, is Antoni Gaudí's world-famous masterpiece. He started construction in 1883 and worked on it until his death in 1926, without being close to the completion that is still being worked on. The church is open for visitors and it is an impressive experience to see Gaudí's work with all its grandeur and rich details.
  • Sant Pau Hospital/Hospital de Sant Pau: The Sant Pau Hospital was built in 1902-1930 by the Catalan architect Lluís Domènech in Montaner, and it is with the many colorful buildings inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Trips in the area

Abbey of Montserrat, Spain

  • Abbey of Montserrat/Monestir da Santa Maria de Montserrat: The Abbey of Montserrat is one of Spain's most important religious pilgrimage sites. It is a monastery in the mountains that is very beautifully situated and in the abbey church you can see the virgin statue that was allegedly found in a cave by a shepherd.
  • Empúries: Empúries was founded by Greeks in 575 BC. The Romans later conquered the city, and today you can see the city's excavations of ruins from both the Greek and Roman eras. You can e.g. see floor mosaics and remains of Greek Palaiapolis.

Tossa de Mar, Spain

  • Tossa de Mar: This is a popular seaside resort where, in addition to enjoying the beaches of the Mediterranean, you can see remnants of the area's Roman times. You can also enjoy a walk in the old town, visit the city museum and see the 16th-century lookout tower Can Magi.
  • Figueres: Figueres is a city located close to France. There is a lovely atmosphere in Figueres, known for being the home of Salvador Dalí. The artist was born here, and the city's theater from Dalí's childhood is now set up as a museum for Dalí, which is also buried here.
  • Andorra: In the mountains between France and Spain you can visit Andorra, which is one of the smaller European countries. You can see the parliament in the capital Andorra la Vella, where there are also several interesting museums and some churches with Santa Coloma as the most famous.
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