Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of the Spanish region of Catalonia, is most famous for its art and architecture. The Sagrada Familia basilica and the other extravagant buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí are the symbol of the city. The Picasso Museum and the Joan Miró Foundation exhibit works of art by two famous modern artists. The MUHBA city history museum collects numerous archaeological finds from the Roman era.
Barcelona; in Catalan Barcelona and in Spanish Barcelona is a city in Spain of 1 636 732 inhabitants, capital of Catalonia, an autonomous community of the eastern part of the state, as well as of the homonymous province and the comarca of Barcelonès: nicknamed Ciutat Comtal or Ciudad Condal, it is the second largest city in Spain by number of inhabitants after the capital Madrid.
In 1992 it was the site of the Summer Olympic Games. In 2004, the Universal Forum of Cultures was held there for the first time, the city hosted the International Exposition of 1888 and that of 1929, and is the permanent home of the Mobile World Congress and the Union for the Mediterranean; strong in tourism, port and proximity to France, the city is the second largest industrial and financial center in Spain after Madrid, as well as the largest commercial and tourist port and one of the largest in Europe.
It is located in eastern Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea south of the Pyrenees mountain range and 150 km from the Colle del Perthus, which marks the border with France, in a plain located between the sea and the aforementioned mountain range, between the mouths of the rivers. Besòs and Llobregat. The municipality is bordered to the north by the municipalities of Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Sant Adrià de Besòs, to the west by Montcada i Reixac and Sant Cugat del Vallès, to the south by the free zone with L'Hospitalet and Esplugues de Llobregat, while to the east it remains only the sea. The reliefs of the city can be divided into three distinct sections: the Collserola mountains, with Tibidabo as the main peak dominating the city with its amusement park; the plain; the Besòs and Llobregat delta perpendicular to the coast. Other minor peaks emerge from the coastal plain, the best known of which is Montjuïc, a hill near the port dominated by a fortification.
Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate with some characteristics different from those typical of the Mediterranean climate, such as a non-negligible amount of rain in summer and a secondary minimum of rainfall in winter. In Barcelona, as in all of Catalonia, the classic Mediterranean climate with humid and temperate winters and arid summers is affected by its position compared to the rest of the Western Mediterranean.
January and February are the coldest months; July and August the hottest. The highest temperature ever recorded in the city was 38.6 ° C on 12 August 2003, and the coldest -7 ° C on 11 February 1956. The summer of 2003, similar to all of Europe Western left the month with the highest average temperature since records, while February 1956 saw the lowest monthly average temperature of the 20th century: 4.5 ° C.
The position of Barcelona between the "Serra di Collserola" and the Mediterranean Sea favors scarce daily temperature variations, on average around 7 ° C in all seasons, and a particularly high humidity rate in summer and autumn. Therefore it is rare to have extreme temperatures: on average there are 5 frosts every winter and no more than ten days with a maximum above 30 ° C. But this changes immediately in the upper districts and the villages near the prelitorial valleys. In the Vallès comarca, the ice temperatures exceed 30 days per year and 25 days for the maximums above 30 ° C in summer. However, these maximums not exceeding 30 ° C for many days in summer are accompanied by a strong discomfort caused by high average humidity with strong heat, xafogor in Catalan. On the contrary, in winter, although the average temperatures are not excessively low, mistral winds predominate and often north winds which increase the perceived cold: fredor in Catalan.
The average rainfall amounts to 620 mm. annual and are present throughout the twelve months of the year, with maximums between September and November and a summer minimum in July. The thunderstorms in August mean that summer rainfall is locally abundant: in some years this month has recorded truly remarkable rainfall values, such as 220 mm measured during a violent storm on the night between 31st July and 1st August 2002. On average there are 25 days of thunderstorms, especially in August and September.
Despite the overall temperate climate, episodes of great cold are not unusual in winter, when cold air masses descend into the western Mediterranean via the Gulf of Lion, which can bring on average 1-2 days of snow. Citizens remember well the real snowstorm of Christmas 1962, the snowfall of the Epiphany of 1985, those of February 83 and that of 87 and the spectacular snowfall of March 1, 1993. More recently they are notable. the very early snowfall of November 21, 1999, the real storm of December 15, 2001 and the snow storms, including thunderstorms, of February 28, 2004, March 1, 2005, March 8, 2010, February 2, 2012 and February 8 2018.
According to legend, the Carthaginian Amilcare Barca, Hannibal's father, founded the city of Barcelona. In reality, the existence of a Punic Barcelona has never been able to prove, just as the birth and development of a Greek settlement in the immediate vicinity of the city seems to have little more foundation. It is likely that the first inhabitants of Barcino, founded around 300 BC, were people of Iberian origin.
Subsequently, the Romans reorganized the city as a castrum, located on Mount Tàber, a hill where today there is the town hall on one side and the seat of the Generalitat de Catalunya on the other. The city was baptized by the Romans with the name of Colonia Iulia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino. The ancient organization of the streets is still visible on the maps of the historic center and in the Roman walls that remain standing. It is believed that Barcino also had an amphitheater, probably located near the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar.
The city was then conquered by the Visigoths in the fifth century, by the Moors in the eighth century, by the Franks, led by Louis the Pious, in the year 801. The latter made it the capital of the county of Barcelona. It was then sacked by the Umayyad hajib Almanzor in 985.
From the tenth century Barcelona experienced a long period of prosperity that continued even when, in 1137, due to a game of alliances, the count became king of Aragon, and the city the most representative center of the kingdom and capital of the Principality of Catalonia. Barcelona became one of the major ports of the Mediterranean Sea; the center was enriched with sumptuous Gothic buildings and, between the 13th and 14th centuries, two new city walls fortified the medieval heart.
In the fifteenth century, the city entered a period of decline that continued in the following centuries. The personal union with the kingdom of Castile, which began with the marriage between Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile in the late fifteenth century, marked the economic decline of Catalonia, whose citizens were excluded from trade with the now discovered America. In 1717, following the defeat suffered against the forces of the first of the Bourbons of Spain, King Philip V, Catalonia lost its political independence.
The industrialization of the nineteenth century continued throughout the twentieth century, reviving the economy, and the city once again became an important commercial, political and cultural center. Witnesses are the two Universal Expositions organized in 1888 and 1929. In the second half of the nineteenth century the project to tear down the ancient medieval walls made room for the Extension, which expanded the city limits to encompass the villages of the nearby suburbs. This was the case in Gràcia, Sarrià, Horta, Sant Gervasi de Cassoles, Les Corts, Sants, Sant Andreu de Palomar and Sant Martí de Provençals.
Air raid of Barcelona on March 17, 1938, photographed from an Italian bomber.
During the civil war, Barcelona sided with the Republic. More precisely, the strong and rooted anarchist movement in the city gave impetus to massive collectivizations and widespread experiences of self-management in industry and public services. During the war, the city was bombed on several occasions mainly by the Italian Legionary Aviation, but also by the Nazi Legion Condor, in the service of General Franco. There were 385 bombings, which caused 2,750 deaths. The city was occupied on January 26, 1939 by the Francoist army. The regime abolished autonomous political institutions and banned the use of the Catalan language. During the 36 years of the dictatorship, Barcelona experienced a period of social and cultural transformation. Strong immigration injected large numbers of Spanish-speaking inhabitants into the substratum of the city, reducing the impact of Catalan. On April 14, 1943, the Barcelona History Museum was founded by the historian Agustí Duran y Sanpere.
At the end of the seventies, the return of democracy also led to a recovery of the Catalan political-cultural identity. In 1986 Spain joined the European Union. Barcelona began a new cultural and urban development that transformed it into the modern metropolis of the present. The Olympic Games, organized in 1992, contributed a lot to the development of the Catalan capital. In the years from the Olympic designation in 1986 to 1992, Barcelona underwent a radical transformation, renewing itself, expanding and promoting its image all over the world.
In 1987 an ETA Basque separatist car bomb exploded at Hipercor and killed 21 people. On 17 August 2017, around 17:00, the city of Barcelona was the scene of a terrorist attack claimed by the Islamic State: a van driven by a jihadist threw itself at pedestrians on La Rambla, killing 14 people on the spot and injuring over 100, one of whom later died bringing the total number of victims of the attack to 15; other attacks occurred in other places in Catalonia. The First Ministry of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, defined the attack as a "Jihadist attack" and the Amaq News Agency attributed the responsibility, albeit indirect, to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
In Barcelona you have the opportunity, walking through the streets, to find traces of its millenary history, from the Roman ruins and the medieval city up to the neighborhoods of Catalan modernism, with its characteristic buildings, its square blocks, its tree-lined avenues and its wide streets. The ancient city rises almost on the plain, while the more recent districts acquire greater slope as one approaches the chain of hills behind.
Some examples of modernism are the buildings of the Quadrat d'Or in the Eixample district, the works of Antoni Gaudí and the Palau de la Música Catalana by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997 and located in the district of Sant Pere, next to Via Laietana. No less important are Josep Puig i Cadafalch's architectural contributions, again with a modernist layout.
Inside the Barri Gòtic or Barrio Gotico, in the Ciutat Vella, to note is the beautiful Cathedral of Sant'Eulalia, dedicated to the patron saint of the city. The cathedral can be visited freely during certain hours of the day, otherwise the entrance is subject to a fee and includes not only the church but also the attached museums inside the buildings connected to it, including the Palau del Lloctinent which is the backdrop to the Plaça del Rei. Also in the Barri Gòtic there is another noteworthy church: Santa Maria del Pi, while Santa Maria del Mar is located in Born.
Among the places of greatest attraction we remember the La Rambla avenue, located between Plaça de Catalunya, the center of the modern city, and the Old Port. The street, both day and night, is packed with people and along its central sidewalk you can find newsagents, florists, bird sellers, street performers, cafes, restaurants and shops. Near the port it is common to find stalls where painters and draftsmen practice and work. Strolling along Les Rambles you can admire various buildings of interest such as the Virreina Palace, the colorful Boqueria Market and the famous Gran Teatre del Liceu, where operas and ballets are represented. The side streets are also characteristic; one of these, very short, leads to Plaça Reial, a square with palm trees and buildings whose arcades host beer bars and restaurants and where collectors of stamps and coins gather on weekends.
Casa Milà, known as La Pedrera, the masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí
The Ramblas ends arriving at the Old Port, where the Monument to Christopher Columbus is located which, with the pointing finger, metaphorically indicates the direction of the New Continent. A few steps from there, you will find the Maritime Museum dedicated above all to the naval history of the Mediterranean Sea, where you can admire the full-scale reproduction of a combat galley. The museum is located in the medieval shipyards, where the boats that sailed for the Mediterranean were built, and its stone sheds are an example of industrial archeology. The Porto Antico offers other attractions, such as a shopping center with shops, restaurants, cinemas and the largest aquarium of the Mediterranean marine fauna.
Barcelona is the city where the architect Antoni Gaudí lived and worked, whose works attract many tourists from all over the world every year. The best known is the church of the Sagrada Família, whose full name in Catalan is Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, which Gaudí left largely unfinished and which has been under construction since 1882. Based on modern means and materials, it is expected that it will be completed. around 2026. The works for its construction are financed solely by donations from the faithful and by the income deriving from the sale of the entrance ticket to visitors. The Nativity facade had already been completed before the designer's death; the one of the Passion and eight of the twelve planned towers has recently been completed. It also remains to complete the facade of the central nave, the one representing the Glory.
Among the other works of Antoni Gaudí, the most famous and important are the Park Güell, the Casa Milà, better known as "La Pedrera", Casa Batlló, Palazzo Güell and Casa Vicens.
Among the art museums of Barcelona, the Fundació Joan Miró is of great interest, which houses some creations by the Majorcan painter and where traveling exhibitions are held with works from all the museums in the world; Also noteworthy is the Museu Picasso, containing an important collection of little-known works by the famous painter dating back to his early period. One of the largest collections of Romanesque art in the world is housed in the National Art Museum of Catalonia. Among these of special interest are the Romanesque frescoes transferred to the museum directly from chapels and churches throughout Catalonia. A few steps from the MNAC, at the foot of Montjuïc, is the CaixaForum Barcelona, a large cultural center located in the ancient Fàbrica Casaramona. One of the oldest museums in the city, founded in 1882, is the Museum of Natural Sciences. One of the most famous museums is the Barcelona History Museum, also known by the acronym MUHBA, dedicated to the history and archeology of the city. The Chocolate Museum aims to promote the local artistic chocolate tradition. The MiBa, Museu d'Idees i Invents de Barcelona was inaugurated by the inventor Pep Torres in 2011. Located in the Disseny Hub Barcelona building, the Barcelona design museum opened in December 2014, and the nearby Museo della Musica de Barcelona opened in 2007.
One of the main attractions of Barcelona in recent years has been its beaches. Thanks to the regeneration of the coast implemented in 1992, for the Olympics, Barcelona can count on eight beaches that stretch for more than 4.2 km. The beaches are central, connected to the historic center, located a few minutes from the city and are fully equipped with the most important services: showers, security, first aid, bicycle racks, free wi-fi and, in some cases, cabins- changing room and rental service of hammocks, sunbeds and umbrellas. The beaches are cleaned every day throughout the year and all boast the blue flag of the European Union. According to data from the municipality of Barcelona, every year the beaches of Barcelona receive more than seven million bathers. Although most of these bathers are concentrated in the summer months between May and September, citizens and tourists can enjoy them all year round, being equipped to play tennis, volleyball and other sports. On the beach of Sant Sebastià, near the Hotel Arts, there is a modern municipal thalassotherapy center and the maritime sports center, equipped with seawater swimming pools that allow you to use the sports facilities all year round. The eight beaches are, from west to east: Sant Sebastià, Barceloneta, Somorrostro, Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant. Port Olímpic is located between Somorrostro and Nova Icària beach, while the Marine Zoo is located east of Llevant beach.