Barcelona, capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain, is Europe’s Largest Metropolis on the Mediterranean coast, with a population of 1.6 million.
Short History – Two Legends, One Settlement
The origin of the earliest settlement of Barcelona is the subject of two legends. The first one claims the founding of the city was done by the mythological Hercules while the second legend attributes it to the historical Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, who originally named the settlement Barcino.
Becoming a Roman military camp in 15 BC, the city minted its own coins and blossomed until it was sacked by the army of Almanzor when most of Barcelona’s population was either killed or enslaved. Barça continued on a down spiral when the great plague (1650–1654) halved the city’s population, all the way until the Napoleonic wars, when the city was even further affected.
Even with such a rough history, Barcelona managed to survive and prosper, becoming soon the second largest city in Spain.
Full of color and life, Barcelona redefines the term ‘green’ as more than 10% of the city is covered by parks. The boulevards are also a mix to concrete and green, which helps keep the noise level low, and maintain the air quality.
Also, Barça is home of many buildings dating all the way back to the medieval times, which blend with the gorgeous Art Nouveau constructions, part of them already included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. However, the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar was the first one who designed the church, and the construction began on March 19, 1882, following his vision. Only in 1883 Gaudí started working on the project, next to him, until March 18, 1883, when Villar retired from the project.
Although incomplete even nowadays (it is estimated that the completion of the project will happen around year 2026), the church is already part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, which attracts a large number of tourists, every year.
Another one of Gaudí’s masterpieces, Casa Batlló or Casa dels ossos (House of Bones as it’s known to the locals) is the result of a total restoration which took place in 1904 when a 1877 conventional house was transformed completely.
Gaudí used ceramics, stone and forged iron for the radical construction, which made the building be highly criticized for a design that broke all the laws of the city. In the in 1900s however, it was voted by the Barcelona City Council as one of the three best buildings of the year.
Casa Mila – La Pedrera
La Pedrera (the stone quarry), the last civil work designed by Antoni Gaudí, built between the years 1906 and 1910, is also part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. With self-supporting stone facade and columns, twisting iron balconies and windows, this is another very controversial work of the famous architect.
Originally built for a married couple living in Barcelona, nowadays the building is the headquarters of Fundació Catalunya – La Pedrera which organizes a large range of cultural activities and exhibitions.
La Seu, as it’s also called was constructed between the 13th and the 15th century, to honor Eulalia of Barcelona, a virgin martyr from during the Roman times in Barcelona. Nowadays, her body is still entombed in the cathedral’s crypt, and the building is the Gothic cathedral seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona.
Even if the beach attracts so many tourists, it’s interesting to know there were no beaches in Barcelona until the year 1992, when the city hosted the Olympic Games, the main reason for transforming the city’s shoreline into a leisure area. According to both National Geographic and Discovery Channel, the beach was ranked number one in the list of the top ten city beaches in the world!
With a combination of perfect sand, luxurious yachts, bars and restaurants, the area is very inviting and full of life.
Located in Port Vell harbor, the aquarium is home to 11,000 animals, representing 450 species, which live in 35 aquariums. All in all, during your visit, you are surrounded by 5,000,000 l of water. Pretty impressive, or what?
Among the tanks, the ocean tank for sharks is probably the most impressive, considering its size and capacity. However, the large number of beautiful species offer a wonderful experience, throughout the entire aquarium.
All in all, Barcelona is a very colorful and happy city, combining perfectly various building styles, from medieval, to modern.
With a fresh cuisine, a positive vibe, a stunning architecture and a fascinating history, Barcelona makes you want to go back and experience more!