Barcelona is the capital, most populous city of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain, with a population of 1,615,908 in 2008. It is the eleventh-most populous municipality in the European Union and sixth-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Ruhr Area, Madrid and Milan with the population 4,185,000. 4,9 million people live in Barcelona metropolitan area. The main part of a union of adjacent cities and municipalities named Área Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB) with a population of 3,186,461 in area of 636 km² (density 5.010 hab/km²). Barcelona is Europe's largest city on the Mediterranean coast.
Barcelona is recognised as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts and international trade. Barcelona is a major economic centre with one of Europe's principal Mediterranean ports, and Barcelona International Airport is the second largest in Spain after the Madrid-Barajas Airport (handles about 30 million passengers per year). Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, it became one of the most important cities of the Crown of Aragon. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination and has a rich cultural heritage. Particularly renowned are architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is well known in recent times for the 1992 Summer Olympics. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean are located in Barcelona.
As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona houses the seat of the Catalan government, known as the Generalitat de Catalunya; of particular note are the executive branch, the parliament, and the Supreme Court of Catalonia. The city is also the capital of the Barcelonès comarca (shire).
Currently construction is mainly focusing on the nave and the main southern facade known as the Glory Facade. This facade will picture life and death.
Opposite the Nativity facade is the 'Passion Facade'. Construction started in 1954, but only in 1987 sculptures depicting the crucified Jesus Christ were added. As soon as they were installed, the abstract figures caused a storm of criticism, as the style was very different from Gaudí's.
You can also visit the towers. A lift and a long walk will lead you to the top of a tower from where you have a magnificent view over Barcelona. The climb is not recommended for those with fear of heights or for people with claustrophobia!
La Rambla or Les Rambles is the most famous street in Barcelona. The wide boulevard connects the Plaça de Catalunya, a busy square, to the Monument a Colom, a tall column erected in honor of Christoffel Columbus.
The most interesting building on this rambla is the Gran Theatre del Liceu, a building decorated in modernista style. Fire destroyed Barcelona's Opera Theater twice, in 1861 and in 1994, but it was rebuilt each time, most recently reopening in 1999.
Further down the rambla on the left hand side is the entrance to the Plaça Reial, a 19th century lively square with tall palm trees and street lamps designed by Antoni Gaudí. Opposite the Plaça Reial, in the Carrer Nou de la Rambla is the Palau Guëll or Guëll Palace, one of Gaudí's first residential buildings. The parabolic shapes at the entrance and the rooftop chimneys are signs of things to come in his later works at the Guëll Park and the Casa Mila, just to name two of this catalan architect's most famous works.
MontjuïcThe Montjuïc is a hill located near the center of Barcelona. It features a large number of attractions including the Spanish Village and the Montjuïc Castle.
Mies van der Rohe Pavilion
In 1900 Guëll commissioned his friend and protégé Antoni Gaudí with the development of the project. With the support from other architects including Josep M. Jujol and his disciple Francesc Berenguer, Gaudí worked on the garden village until 1914 when it was clear the project was a commercial failure: Guëll failed
Port Vell Attractions
The Arc de Triomf is a triumphal arch built with colorful brickwork in mudéjar style. This beautiful arch was built for the 1888 Universal Exposition, which took place at the Parc de la Ciutadella. The Arc de Triomf, situated at the end of a wide promenade, served as the exposition's main entrance.
La Seu Cathedral
In the center of the Barri Gòtic (Gothic district), the heart of Barcelona, is the gothic cathedral, known as La Seu. The cathedral is officially named Cathedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia, after Barcelona's patron saint Eulalia.
Already in 343 A.D. during the Roman Empire a basilica was built at the site of the current cathedral. In 985 the basilica was destroyed by the Moors, led by Al-Mansur. It was replaced by a Roman cathedral, built between 1046 and 1058. A Roman chapel, the Capella de Santa Llucia, was added between 1257 and 1268. It was later incorporated in the cloister next to the cathedral.
30 Years later, in 1298, construction of the gothic cathedral started under King Jaume II, known as 'the Just'. During the construction of the gothic cathedral, the existing roman building was demolished except for the Santa Llucia chapel. Due to civil wars and the black death which hit the city several times, the construction only progressed slowly. It took until 1460 before the main building was completed. The gothic facade was finished much later, in 1889 and the last part, the central spire, was The La Seu Cathedral at night, Barcelona The Cathedral at night completed in 1913. The design of both the facade and the spire were based on the original design from 1408 by the French architect Charles Galters.
The Christoffel Columbus was built in 1888 in honor of the renowned explorer and discoverer of America.
Considered to be one of the first examples of modern urban planning, Barcelona’s Eixample (meaning, literally, “extension” in the Catalan language) was developed in the second half of the 19th century.
Cerda’s plans for the Eixample were considered to be quite visionary. When designing the neighborhood, he took many things into consideration including traffic, sunlight, and ventilation. The streets were to broaden at each intersection and the corners were cut off to allow horse-drawn wagons to make turns Casa Terrades, Barcelona Casa Terrades more easily. However, all of Cerda’s plans didn’t turn out quite the way he had hoped. Architects did follow his grid plan, but ignored many of the specifics. The intersections weren’t designed as his drawings indicated (though they are spacious), garden areas were eliminated, and the neighborhood became a haven for the wealthy rather than a place that would attract all classes.
You’ll want to make a stop at the magnificent Casa Batlló, a Gaudi-designed structure that’s on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The structure is nearly indescribable to those who haven’t laid eyes on it, but is truly one of the most incredible examples of Modernista architecture anywhere, covered with glittery pieces of glass and boasting interesting shapes throughout. You’ll also want to visit the Casa Milà, with its wavy walls which remind some of honeycombs and others of African cave dwellings. Strange-looking chimney stacks sit atop the building.
The Magic fountain is a large fountain built in 1929. When the fountain is active, it constantly changes color and shape. The Font Màgica or Magic fountain was part of a project built for the 1929 Universal Exhibition. The exhibition took place on Montjuïc, a hill on the eastern end of Barcelona.
Cascades and Fountains
The project, designed by the engineer Carles Buigas consisted of a series of cascades and fountains between the Palau National, the main exhibition center on the Montjuïc, and the Plaça d'Espanya at the foot of the hill. It took one year to complete the project. The most spectacular part was the monumental Magic fountain. It was originally intended to show people what could be achieved with filtered electrical light.
Barcelona’s Palau Nacional appears, at first glance, to be a very grand, old building. Looks can be deceiving! This sprawling structure that houses the National Art Museum of Catalonia was actually built in 1929 for the International Exhibition.
About the Building The Palau Nacional was the flagship of the 1929 Exhibition, drawing lots of attention from the crowds that descended upon the Catalan region for the event. Built in the style typical of palaces that housed European royalty, Palau Nacional it was designed by architects Enric Català i Català and Pedro Cendoya Oscoz. The building recently underwent major renovations at the hands of architects Gae Aulenti and Josep Benedito, though the magnificent Oval Hall was renovated in 1992 and opened in time for the summer Olympics, held in Barcelona that year.
Parc de la Ciutadella
The Parc de la Ciutadella is Barcelona's most central park. The park includes a zoo, a lake, a large fountain and several museums. The Catalan Parliament is seated at a building in the center of the park.
The Citadel In 1714, after a 13 month long siege, Barcelona fell to the army of Philips V during the war of the Spanish Succession. In order to keep firm control over Barcelona, King Philips V built the largest fortress in Europe, a star-shaped citadel or 'Ciutadella'. A large part of the the Ribera district was demolished for this fortress. Only 30 years later was the neighborhood rebuilt at another location as the 'Barceloneta'.
Parc de l'Espanya Industrial
Creation The 4.6ha (11 acres) large park was created in 1985 on the site of Vapor Nou, a former textile factory. Locals called the factory L'Espanya Industrial, hence the name of the park. The development of the park was part of a plan by Barcelona's city council to create more open spaces. The modern design by the Bask architect Luis Pena Ganchegui fits well in the environment, defined by the large railway station, wide roads and high-rise buildings.
The Plaça de Catalunya
The central government prevailed and the new Eixample district was designed according to Cerdà's design. Barcelona's government however opposed what they perceived as a lack of integration between the new and old districts. They supported Rovira i Trias's plan of a wide esplanade leading to a plaza. Cerdà's plan consisted of an extension of the Rambla towards a large square to be created on the Passeig de Gracia.
ça de Catalunya is not integrated with any of the surrounding neighborhoods, but for a square this size it is surprisingly pleasant.
A recent addition to the square's collection of sculptures is the Monument a Francesc Macià, honoring the former president of the Generalitat (the Catalan government). The sculpture was created in 1991 by Josep Subirachs, the architect in charge of the construction of the Sagrada Familia.
Plaça d'EspanyaThe Plaça d'Espanya was created for the 1929 World Exhibition. Designed in 1915 by the architect Josep Amargós, it was only completed just in time for the exhibition.
Another architect, Josep Maria Jujol designed a large fountain at the center of the square. His modernist style is clearly influenced by Gaudi, with whom Jujol frequently collaborated on projects like the Casa Milà and Park Guëll. The sculptures adorning the fountain were created by the Spanish sculptor Miguel Blay Fabregas.
In the 1980s the park was renamed Parc de Joan Miró after the local artist who left his mark on the square with a 22m high colorful sculpture, known as 'Dona i Ocell' or Woman and Bird.
Originally the idea was to put a forest of sculptures like these in the park, but Joan Miró's death in 1983 prevented these plans from being implemented.
While the inside is certainly structurally interesting, it’s the exterior that fascinates passers-by as they make their way down the highways of Barcelona. The first skin that covers the concrete
structure is a layer of polished aluminum in blues, greens, and grays. The second skin, which adds an iridescent sparkle to the building, is made up of 59,619 sheets of clear glass.
Barcelona is served by Barcelona Airport in the town of El Prat de Llobregat, about 17 km (11 mi) from Barcelona. It is the second-largest airport in Spain, and the largest on the Mediterranean coast. It is a main hub for Vueling Airlines and Clickair, and also a focus for Spanair, Air Europa and Iberia. The airport mainly serves domestic and European destinations, but some airlines offer destinations in Asia and the United States. The airport is connected to the city by highway, commuter train and scheduled bus service. The airport handled 32,800,570 passengers in 2007. A new terminal (T1) has been built, and entered service on 17 June 2009.
Sabadell Airport is a smaller airport in the nearby town of Sabadell, devoted to pilot training, commercial flights, aerotaxi and private flights. Some low-cost airlines, like Ryanair and Martinair, prefer to use Girona-Costa Brava Airport, situated about 90 km (56 mi) to the north of Barcelona and Reus Airport, situated 77 km (48 mi) to the south.
The Port of Barcelona has a 2000-year history and a great contemporary commercial importance. It is Europe's ninth largest container port, with a trade volume of 2.3 million TEU's in 2006. The port is managed by the Port Authority of Barcelona. Its 7.86 km2 (3 sq mi) are divided into three zones: Port Vell (the Old Port), the commercial port and the logistics port (Barcelona Free Port). The port is undergoing an enlargement that will double its size thanks to diverting the mouth of the Llobregat river 2 km (1¼ mi) to the south.
The Port Vell area also houses the Maremagnum (a commercial mall), a multiplex cinema, the IMAX Port Vell and an aquarium.
Barcelona is served by a comprehensive local public transport network that includes a metro, a bus network, two separate modern tram networks, a separate historic tram line, and several funiculars and aerial cable cars. The Barcelona Metro network comprises nine lines, identified by an "L" followed by the line number as well as by individual colours. Most of the network is operated by the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), but three lines are FGC commuter lines that run through the city. When finished, the L9 will be the second longest underground metro line in Europe with 42.6 km; only shorter than London's 76 km Central Line.
TMB also provides most of the services of the city's daytime bus network, as well as a tourist bus service. The tourist bus service gives the opportunity to visit the city on open-topped double-decker buses. The Barcelona Bus Turistic runs along three sightseeing routes, and passengers can get on and off as many times as they like. The night bus network, known as Nitbus, is operated by Tusgsal and Mohn. Transports Ciutat Comtal operates the Aerobus (to the airport) and the Tibibus (bus from Plaça Catalunya to Tibidabo amusement park) services. Other companies
Another company, TRAMMET, operates the city's two modern tram networks, known as Trambaix and Trambesòs. The historic tram line, the Tramvia Blau, connects the metro to the Funicular del Tibidabo. The Funicular de Tibidabo climbs the Tibidabo hill, as does the Funicular de Vallvidrera. The Funicular de Montjuïc climbs the Montjuïc hill. The city has two aerial cable cars: one to the Montjuïc castle and another that runs via Torre Jaume I and Torre Sant Sebastià over the port.
Barcelona is a major hub for RENFE, the Spanish state railway network, and its main intercity train station is Barcelona-Sants station. The AVE high-speed rail system was recently extended from Madrid to Barcelona. Renfe cercanías/rodalies and the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) run Barcelona's widespread commuter train service. The Estació del Nord (Northern Station), a former railway station that was renovated for the 1992 Olympic Games, now serves as the terminus for long-distance and regional bus services.
Barcelona has a metered taxi fleet governed by the Institut Metropolità del Taxi (Metropolitan Taxi Institute), composed of more than 10,000 cars. Most of the licences are in the hands of self-employed drivers. With their black and yellow livery, Barcelona's taxis are easily spotted.
On 22 March 2007, Barcelona's City Council started the Bicing service, a bicycle service understood as a public transport. Once the user has their user card, they can take a bicycle from any of the 100 stations spread around the city and use it anywhere the urban area of the city, and then leave it at another station. The service has been a success, with 50,000 subscribed users in three months.