Barcelona history and attractions. With a population of over a million and a half residents, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain.
With a population of over a million and a half residents and a metropolitan area of over five million, Barcelona is the city with the second largest population in Spain and the sixth largest in the European Union. The city is located just 120 kilometers south of the Pyrenees on a flat coastal area bordered to the west by the Serra de Collserola Mountain Range. It also faces the Mediterranean Sea and sits embraced by the Llobregat and the Besós Rivers, where it enjoys a much more stable and mild climate than its neighbors. The city is known as the Ciudad Condal because it was once the capital of Barcelona County (condal refers to a count).
Barcelona's origins remain lost in ancient history. We do know that when the Laietani (an Iberian tribe) were conquered by Cornelio Escipión, the city was converted into a Roman colony until the Middle Ages. By this time, the city was known as Barcalona, or Barchelona. The lack of reliable information available on the city's early beginnings has given rise to a number of curious legends that we might describe in Italian as "se non è vero, è ben trovato" (even if it's not true, it sounds good). Among these beautiful legends we find one that tells the tale of how the mythical hero Hercules, together with the Argonauts, search for the Golden Fleece and end up caught in a terrible storm in which they lose their ninth boat, the "Barca Nona". According to the popular story, the boat was later found safe on the shores of the place where the city sits today, its crew also safe and enjoying their stay in the region. Supposedly Barcanona later became Barcelona.
In the Middle Ages, Barcelona was one of the Mediterranean's trade centers along with Naples and Valencia, under the Aragon crown. This prosperous period of trade began to decline over several centuries until the area experienced a time of economic recovery toward the end of the 18th century. Industrialization arrived in the 19th century, which had a fundamental impact on the textile trade and on Barcelona, as the city held a monopoly on textile trade between Spain and Cuba. The situation would help the city gain a position of prominence as a political, cultural and economic center. In the 20th century, the arms industry became another source of development in Barcelona to add to the already powerful textile industry.
In the more recent past, the 1992 Olympic Games were held here, which transformed the city into a modern urban center on the cutting of art and design. It is no exaggeration to say that the Olympics launched Barcelona into the international sphere.
Today, the Ciudad Condal continues to develop as a major city recognized as a national and international leader in a number of industries. Along with traditional industries like textiles, Barcelona is also making headway in new technological fields, where companies are investigating biomedicine and nano and bio-technology. Barcelona is also the Spanish language's leading publisher of books and comics, both in Catalan and in Spanish, the latter of which are produced for both the Spanish and the Latin American markets.
Shopping in Barcelona is one way to get to know the city. Anyone interested in buying clothes by the top names in fashion is recommended to visit the area surrounding the Plaza de Cataluña, the Borne and Pelayo and Portal del Ángel streets. If you're looking for fur or jewelry, take a look at the shops in the Paseo de Gracia area, on the Rambla de Cataluña or on Avda. Diagonal.
After a long day of shopping, you can relax in any one of the city's many parks, such as Guell Park, designed by the magnificent Antoni Gaudi, or Ciutadella Park. You can also head up to Tibidabo or Montjuic to take in panoramic views of the city or you can also lose yourself in Labyrinth Park of Horta.
Getting to know people is always easy in a city like Barcelona, which is open to the whole world. All you have to do is visit las Ramblas, the Plaza de Cataluña or the bars at the Plaza Real. The nightlife here is a rich variety of surprises, particularly in the popular Gracia and the Poblenou areas and also in the more exclusive Sant Gervasi area. The Raval and the Gothic district offer the chance to explore Barcelona's most international side. Finally, visitors interested in experiencing a unique atmosphere can explore the Eixample area, which Barcelona residents refer to as Gayxample for obvious reasons.
With its thriving economy, 14 universities and higher-level technical schools, internationally celebrated monuments and pleasant natural landscapes, Barcelona invites you to come explore all it has to offer.