In a privileged position on the northeastern coast of the Iberian peninsula and the shores of the Mediterranean sea lies Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain in both size and population. It is also the capital of Catalonia, 1 of the 17 Autonomous Communities that make up Spain. There are two official languages spoken in Barcelona: Catalan, generally spoken in all of Catalonia, and Castilian Spanish. The city of Barcelona has a population of 1.510.000, but this number spirals to more than 4.000.000 if the outlying areas are also included.
The Sagrada Familia church of Gaudi
The capital of Catalonia is unequivocally a Mediterranean city, not only because of its geographic location but also 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 Catalonian modernism is one of the most noticeable displays.
Barcelona is more than just a single city. It 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 entirely intact, or by the curious contrast between the maze of narrow streets and the grid-like layout of the L'Eixample neighborhood, the urban planning "Enlargement" project that began towards the end of the 19th century.
The entrance to Güell Parc
Fiestas and celebrations in Barcelona
One of the most important celebrations in Barcelona is the Mercè in honor of the patron saint of the city. The main event takes place on September 24th, although various pageants, concerts and activities begin three days earlier. Three of the most traditional events around the Mercé celebrations are:
'Els Castellets' or building of human towers. The 'castle' is deemed to be complete when the smallest person, usually a child, stands at the top. Event activities begin three days earlier.
'El Correfoc', 'diablos y demonios',, which is Catalan and Spanish for "devils and demons", a costume event where people dressed as devils demons armed with all sorts of fireworks go through the streets.
'The fireworks and music spectacle on September 24th', happen at 10 o'clock in the evening which signal the end of all celebrations.
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