An always moving city

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Barcelona is one of those cities you don’t only visit but live, even if you don’t want to, it engages you and shows you its own soul. It’s hard to explain with words, but those who have already had the opportunity to visit the Catalan city know how Barcelona opens up to people, welcomes them offering, for better or worse, all of itself. Despite a strong identity and the unbreakable tie to Catalan culture and tradition, Barcelona is a city projected outward, that receives many inputs from everywhere in the world and openly welcomes whoever wants to choose it as their own home, to the point of being one of the most multi-ethnic cities in Europe, and not only in Europe. Perhaps it’s exactly the awareness of its own identity, able to survive even to Francoism, that makes so that it doesn’t fear different cultures and traditions but enriches from them to the point of being one of the most dynamic cities in the world.


Sagrada Familia

Constantly moving, just like the sea that bathes it, Barcelona is a very vibrant cultural city, the centre of an exponential economic growth, a city that knows how to renew itself and to balance its historical part with the modern one, tradition with avantgarde. Picture a multifaceted stage where art, culture, food, sports, fashion, style, music and fun are on all year round: simply irresistible. Despite being the second Spanish city, after Madrid, it competes with the capital for the place of most important economic and intellectual centre of the country. The Catalan city attracts tourists from all over the world thanks to a really wide range of opportunities: the not to be missed works of the architect Gaudí, discovering the fascinating Gothic Quarter, strolling around the vibrant port area, the rich collections of art galleries and museums, immersive and picturesque walks along the Ramblas, a heated nightlife on the same level as, if not better than, the main metropolises of the world, countless happenings, a tasty and tantalizing food offer. All this makes so that every year Barcelona is picked as the favourite travel destination in the Iberian territory and one of the most visited cities in Europe. On the top of that, young people are more and more choosing Barcelona, instead of London, as the destination for a short break in which immerse themselves in artistic and architectural beauties by day and have fun among a myriad of restaurants, bar de copas and clubs by night, but also as a long-term destination, maybe looking for a new job and a life abroad experience. The vitality of Barcelona must also be sought in its past, in its continual search for autonomy and freedom to express its peculiar character, in its always being a city of encounter for cultures, traditions, peoples.


Founded by the Carthaginians around 230 a.C., presumably with the name Barkeno, it was later conquered by the Romans and made into a colony with the name Colonia Favencia Julia Augusta Paterna Barcino. In the following centuries conquerors follow one after another: first the Visigoth, then the Moors, until the French of Charlemagne, who declared Barcelona the capital of “Marca Hispanica”. It’s during the period in which the French of Charlemagne banished the Arabs (801 d.C.) that the history of the present city officially starts. The name Catalonia comes from Catalunya, in the local language, and includes the countships of the historical Marca Hispanica. A testament of French influence is the fact that to this day the closest language to Catalan is Langue d’Oc, the old language of Southern France.


With the union between Catalonia and Aragon, through the wedding of the respective heirs of the two dynasties, a period of great prosperity for the whole region begins. During XV century the wedding between Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castilla declares the birth of a unified Spain, formed by Castilla, Catalonia and Aragon. The attention towards Catalan region drops so that Barcelona will gradually lose its economic and merchant importance, also due to the establishment of ports overseas; a strong sentiment for independence raises and will keep raising through the ages. Catalan hostility to Castilla domination exploded during the War of Succession (1702-1713), and in 1714 Barcelona fell under a hard siege. The consequence was that Philip V, in addition to banning the Catalan language, built an enormous fort, the Ciutadella, to keep his infidel subjects under control. It’s only after 1778 that Catalonia was granted the permission to trade with America and with this started an economic recovery of the region, to the point that the first Spanish Industrial Revolution, based on cotton, started exactly in Barcelona. In the IXX century it was thanks to the interest towards Romanticism that the Catalan culture and language did not disappeared. During the Renaissance writers and poets strived to revive the language of their people and meanwhile a heated nationalist movement was born, and it was supported by the members of all the parties.


Casa Milà

At the beginning of the new century a real demographic explosion occurred in Barcelona, mainly due to the countless workers who came to the city looking for a job. In 1931, while the Second Republic of Spain was being formed, the first declaration of independence was declared. The Catalan nationalists declared a republic inside of a “Iberian Federation” and established the “Generalitat de Catalunya”. Soon, although, with the Spanish Civil War it was forced to face a dramatic period. During the Olympic Games of 1936 many athletes who came to Barcelona decided to stay and join the International Republican Brigades, which became popular also thanks to writers as Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell. When the Popular Front won the elections in 1936, Catalonia was granted an actual independence, shortly lasted since the republican stronghold was occupied and conquered by the Francoist army (1939). This lead to the abandon of the city by millions of Catalans who preferred to flee over the borders than to subject themselves to the “Generalisimo”. This was the start of an obscure phase for Barcelona and Catalonia: the Catalan language and the traditional dance called Sardanas were declared illegal and, in addition, the authorities tried to contrast the independentist movements by relocating workers from Andalucía. Light shone again on Catalonia after the death of Franco in 1975 and Julio Carlos de Borbon accession to the throne, who strongly wanted to begin a new democratic course for Spain. The autonomy of the region was recognized and the Generalitat, a sort of local parliament, was established. The Catalan language, alongside with Basque and Galician, were recognized as Spain official languages and taught in schools. In 1979, with a popular referendum, the Catalan people voted for the regional autonomy and were granted the statute of autonomy.

In the last decades Barcelona growth exponentially and flourished mainly on high tech services, metallurgy, car manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries. The Olympiads of 1992 represented a turning point as the city prepared to host them by upgrading its own infrastructures, the underground, the port areas, the railways, the airport, and so it gave an extraordinary impulse to tourism too. In 2004 Barcelona was also the first city to host the Forum Universal de las Culturas (Universal Forum of Cultures), and this made so that Barcelona, in order to give it a proper centre, developed a new urban area of about 30 hectares along the coastal seaside between the Olympic port of Barcelona and Sant Adrià de Besos. The new site includes a congress centre, a central square, parks, an auditorium and the Forum building, designed by a famous avant garde architect studio.

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