Barcelona, in a privileged position at the shores of the Mediterranean, it is the capital of Catalonia, a small nation over 1000 years old which is now part of Spain. Two languages are spoken in Barcelona: Catalan, the autochthonous language spoken in all Catalonia and Spanish, although over 120 languages more are spoken among its 1.8 million inhabitants, some of which come from all corners of the world. Its metropolitan area, comprised by 36 cities and towns including Barcelona, reaches 4.8 million.
The capital of Catalonia is unequivocally a Mediterranean city, not only because of its geographic location but also and above all because of its history, tradition and cultural influences. The documented history of the city dates back to the founding of a Roman colony on its soil in the second century B.C. Modern Barcelona experienced spectacular growth and economic revival at the onset of industrialization during the second half of the 19th century. The 1888 World’s Fair became a symbol of the capacity for hard work and the international outlook projected by the city. Culture and the arts flourished in Barcelona and in all of Catalonia; the splendor achieved by Catalan modernism is one of the most patent displays.
Barcelona, more than just a single city, is really a collection of multi-faceted and diverse cities. The visitor unfamiliar with its history might be surprised that such a modern and enterprising city preserves its historic Gothic center almost intact, or by the curious contrast between the maze of narrow streets and the grid-like layout of the Eixample, the urban planning “Enlargement” project of the end of the 19th century; or that beside a modern high-rise, you can also find a quaint square where the most outstanding decorative element is a chimney, an echo of the old factories that were installed there in the past.
Video: © Rob Whitworth