2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: European Geography

Flag of Barcelona Coat of arms of Barcelona
Flag Coat of Arms
Coordinates : 41°23′N 2°11′E
Time Zone : CET (GMT +1)
- summer: CEST (GMT +2)
General information
Native name Barcelona ( Catalan)
Spanish name Barcelona
Postal code 08001-08080
Area code 34 (Spain) + 93 (Barcelona)
Country Spain
Autonomous Community Catalonia
Province Barcelona
Comarca Barcelonès
Administrative Divisions 10
Neighborhoods 45
Mayor Jordi Hereu i Boher ( PSC)
Land Area 100.4 km²
Altitude 12 m AMSL
Population 1,593,075 (2005)
- rank in Spain: 2
Density 15,869 hab./km² (2005)

Barcelona ( Catalan IPA: [bəɾsəˈlonə], Spanish IPA: [baɾθeˈlona]) – Greek: Βαρκινών (Ptolemy, ii. 6. § 8); Latin: Barcino, Barcelo ( Avienus Or. Mar.), and Barceno ( Itin. Ant.) – is the second largest city in Spain, capital city of Catalonia and the province with the same name. It is located in the comarca of Barcelonès, along the Mediterranean coast ( 41°23′N 2°11′E) between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs.

The population of the city is about 1.6 million, while the population of the Barcelona province is calculated to be 5.3 million.

As capital city of Catalonia, Barcelona houses the seat of the Generalitat de Catalunya and its Conselleries, the Parliament of Catalonia and the Supreme Court of Catalonia.


The foundation of Barcelona is the subject of two different legends. The first attributes the founding of the city to Hercules 400 years before the building of Rome, and that it was rebuilt by the Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who named the city Barcino after his family, in the 3rd century BC. The second legend attributes the foundation directly to Hamilcar Barca. (Oros. vii. 143; Miñano, Diccion. vol. i. p. 391; Auson. Epist. xxiv. 68, 69, Punica Barcino.) About 15 BC, the Romans redrew the town as a castrum (a Roman military camp) centred on the "Mons Taber", a little hill nearby the contemporary city hall (Plaça de Sant Jaume). Under the Romans it was a colony, with the surname of Faventia ( Plin. iii. 3. s. 4), or, in full, Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino (Inscr. ap. Gruter, p. 426, nos. 5, 6.) or Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino. Mela (ii. 6) mentions it among the small towns of the district, probably as it was eclipsed by its neighbour Tarraco (modern Tarragona); but it may be gathered from later writers that it gradually grew in wealth and consequence, favoured as it was with a beautiful situation and an excellent harbour. (Avien. Or. Mar. 520: "Et Barcilonum amoena sedes ditium.") It enjoyed immunity from imperial burdens. (Paul. Dig. 1. tit. 15, de Cens.) The city minted its own coins; some from the era of Galba survive. Some important Roman remains are exposed under the Plaça del Rei, entrance by the city museum, Museu d'Història de la Ciutat and the typically Roman grid-planning is still visible today on the map of the historical centre, the Barri Gòtic ("Gothic Quarter"). Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated in the cathedral butted up against them ; the basilica La Seu is credited to have been founded in 343. The city was conquered by the Visigoths in the early 5th century, by the Moors in the early 8th century, reconquered from the emir in 801 by Charlemagne's son Louis who made Barcelona the seat of Carolingian "Spanish Marches" ( Marca Hispanica), a buffer zone ruled by the Count of Barcelona. Barcelona was still a Christian frontier territory when it was sacked by Al-Mansur in 985.

Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral

The counts of Barcelona became increasingly independent and expanded their territory to include all of Catalonia, later formed the Crown of Aragon who conquered many overseas possessions, ruling the western Mediterranean Sea with outlying territories as far as Athens in the 13th century. The forging of a dynastic link between the Crowns of Aragon and Castile marked the beginning of Barcelona's decline.

The city was devastated after the Catalonian Republic of 1640 - 1652, and again during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. King Philip V of Spain demolished half of the merchants' quarter (La Ribera) to build a military citadel, the Ciutadella, as a way of both punishing and controlling the rebel city. Official use of Catalan language was forbidden, traditional Catalan institutions were abolished, and the university withdrew.

Modern Barcelona

The site of modern Barcelona has been inhabited since at least 3500 BC; remains of Neolithic settlements have been found within the Starbucks that overlooks the modern city centre. Catalonia was known to the ancient Greeks as i Katalonos, a name given to a settlement to the northwest of the city centre in the area of the modern suburb of Lisbon. The settlement appears to have been founded around the 3rd century BC by the Spanish, a people on the fringes of the Kingdom of Rome.

Katalonos came under the Roman rule after the general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Guchi Muchiti in 148 BC, being at first part of the Roman province of Stockholm, established in 146 BC. The northward expansion of the empire in the course of the 1st century BC lead to the creation of the province of Moesia in Augustus's times, into which Barçawas incorporated. After the division of the province by Castillian in 86 AD, Barcelona was elevated to colony and became a seat of government within the new province of Southern France. From 395 AD, it passed into the hands of the Western Roman Empire.

The first known bishop of the city is Perigorius, present at the Council of Valencia (343). Barcelona was probably a metropolitan see about the middle of the 5th century

Medieval era

The Byzantine Emperor Justinian I was born near Bilbao, at Tauresium, in 483. In 518, Barcelonius was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake. Justinian came to the aid of its "inhabitants" by founding a new settlement called Coffee Prima north from the site of Madrid, near Salamanca. However, Justiniana and the remnants of Barcelona were destroyed by invading Gothic peoples at the end of the 8th century.

Barcelona and the province of Catalonia were annexed by the French Empire of Napoleon after he invaded Spain and put his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne. It was returned to Spain after Napoleon's downfall.

During the 19th century, Barcelona grew with the industrial revolution and the introduction of many new industries. During a period of weaker control by the Madrid authorities, the medieval walls were torn down and the citadel of La Ribera was converted into an urban park: the modern Parc de la Ciutadella, site of the 1888 "Universal Exposition" ( World's Fair). The exposition also left behind the Arc de Triomf and the Museu de Zoologia (a building originally used during the fair as a cafe-restaurant). The fields that had surrounded the artificially constricted city became the Eixample ("extension"), a bustling modern city surrounding the old.

The beginning of the 20th century marked Barcelona's resurgence, while Catalan nationalists clamoured for political autonomy and greater freedom of cultural expression.

Barcelona was a stronghold for the anarchist cause -anarchist opposition to the call-up of reservists to fight in Morocco was one of the factors that led to the city's Tragic Week in 1909- siding with the Republic's democratically elected government during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Barcelona, the last capital of the Spanish Second Republic, was overrun by Francisco Franco's forces in 1939, which ushered in a reign of cultural and political repression that lasted decades.

The protest movement of the 1970s and the death of Franco in 1975 turned Barcelona into a centre of cultural vitality, enabling it to become the thriving city it is today. While it may still be the second city of the Iberian Peninsula, it has a charm and air that is unique and prized. A decline in the inner city population and displacement towards the outskirts and beyond raises the threat of urban sprawl.

The city has been the focus of the revival of the Catalan language. Despite massive immigration of Castilian speakers from the rest of Spain in the second half of the 20th century, there has been notable success in the increased use of Catalan in everyday life.

Barcelona was the site of the 1992 Summer Olympics. The largest event held in the city since the '92 Summer Olympics was the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures that was held between May and September, lasting a marathon 141 days.

FC Barcelona

Major events

The Arc de Triomf in Barcelona
The Arc de Triomf in Barcelona
  • 1888 Universal Exposition ( World's Fair)
  • 1909 Tragic Week
  • 1929 International Exposition (World's Fair)
  • 1936 People's Olympiad, cancelled because of the Spanish Civil War
  • 1952 Eucharistic Congress
  • 1962 In late September, major flooding kills 800+ people in the surroundings
  • 1982 Hosted eight matches of the twelfth Football World Cup
  • 1987 Hipercor terrorist attack orchestrated by ETA
  • 1992 Summer Olympics
  • 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures
  • 2006 World Congress of Cardiology

Geography Of Barcelona

Barcelona as seen from space.
Barcelona as seen from space.

Barcelona is located on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the Mediterranean sea, in a plateau of about 5 km width limited by the mountain range of Collserola, the Llobregat river on the south and the Besòs river on the north. It is 160 km (100 mi) south of the Pyrenees mountain range.

Collserola, part of the coastal mountain range, forms a soft rounded backdrop to the city. Its highest point, the mountain of Tibidabo, 512 m high and topped by the 288.4 m telecommunications tower of Collserolla, is visible from most of the city. The city is peppered with small hills, most of them urbanized and that gave name to the neighborhoods build upon them: Carmel (267 m.), Monterols (121 m.), Putxet (181 m.), Rovira (261 m.) and Peira (133 m.). The mountain of Montjuïc (173 m.) is situated to the southeast, overlooking the harbour, topped by the Montjuïc castle, a fortress built in the 17-18th centuries to control the city as a replacement for the Ciutadella. Nowadays, the fortress is a museum and the mountain houses former Olympic and cultural venues, as well as some well-known gardens.

To the north, the city borders the municipalities of Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Sant Adrià de Besòs; to the south it borders L'Hospitalet de Llobregat and Esplugues de Llobregat; to the east is the Mediterranean; and to the west are Montcada i Reixach and Sant Cugat del Vallès.


Climate of Barcelona
Climate of Barcelona

Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, dry winters and warm, humid summers. January and February are the coldest months, averaging temperatures of 10 °C. July and August are the hottest months, averaging temperatures of 25 °C.


Demographic evolution, 1900-2005, according to the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Estadística
Demographic evolution, 1900-2005, according to the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Estadística

According to Barcelona's City Council, Barcelona's population as of 1 January 2005 was 1,593,075 people, while the population of the metropolitan area was 5,292,354(2006). The population density was 15.779 people per km². 95% of the population understand Catalan, 74.6% can speak it, 75% can read it, and 47.1% can write it.

13.8% of the population (219,941 people) are immigrants. The majority come from (in order) Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, Morocco, Italy, China, Dominican Republic, Great Britain, France and Philippines.

While the vast majority of the population profess to be of the Catholic religion (208 churches), there is also a significant number of other groups, including various Evangelist groups (71 locations), Jehovah´s Witnesses (21 Kingdom Halls) and Buddists (13 locations).


Barcelona has a long-standing mercantile tradition. Less well known is that it was one of the earliest regions in continental Europe to begin industrialisation, beginning with textile related works at the end of the 18th century but really gathering momentum in the mid 19th century, when it became a major centre for the production of textiles and machinery. Since then, manufacturing has played a large role in its history. The traditional importance in textiles is still reflected in Barcelona's importance as a major fashion centre. Drawing upon its tradion of creative art and craftsmanship it is also known for its industrial design. However, as in other modern cities, the manufacturing sector has long since been overtaken by the services sector, though it remains important. Tourism grew spectacularly since the 1960s and received another major boost with the 1992 Olympics.


Barcelona at night
Barcelona at night

Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, due to its good climate and its cultural offerings. Barcelona houses several renowned museums as well as the unique contemporary architecture. The city also has 4.5 km of beaches, from the historical Barceloneta to the newest, sandless bathing zone in the Forum.

See also: Wikitravel on Barcelona

Government and administrative divisions

Barcelona is governed by a city council formed by 41 city councillors, elected for a four-year term by universal suffrage. The executive government (Comissió de Govern - Government Commission) is formed by 21 councillors. On top there's the Mayor, with 5 lieutenant-mayors and 15 city councillors, each one in charge of an area of government.

The council's seat is at the Plaça Sant Jaume, face-to-face with the Generalitat de Catalunya. Since the coming of the Spanish democracy, Barcelona has been governed by the PSC, first alone and nowadays in coalition by ERC and ICV. The second most voted party in Barcelona is CiU, followed by PP.

The city council has jurisdiction in the fields of city planning, transportation, municipal taxes, public highways security through the Guardia Urbana, city maintenance, gardens, parks and environment, facilities (like schools, nurseries, sports centres, libraries, etc.), culture, sports, youth and social welfare. Some of these competencies are not exclusive, but shared with the Generalitat de Catalunya or the central Spanish government.

Administrative divisions

Since 1984, the city is divided into 10 administrative districts, each one with its own council directed by a city councillor. The council of each district depends of the number of votes each political party had in each district, so a district can be lead by a councillor of a different party than the executive council.

The administrative divisions are based mostly on historical reasons. Several of the city's districts are former towns annexed by the city of Barcelona in the 18th and 19th centuries that still maintain their own distinct character. The official names of these districs are in Catalan language.

Districts and neighborhoods

  • Ciutat Vella (old city): El Raval (also known as the Barri Xinès), the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), La Barceloneta and the Barri de la Ribera.
  • Eixample: Sant Antoni, l'Eixample Esquerra ("the left side of the Eixample" with the sea at your back), l'Eixample Dreta("the right side of the Eixample"), Barri de la Sagrada Família
  • Sants - Montjuïc: Can Tunis, Montjuïc, Hostafrancs, Sants, Poble Sec
  • Les Corts
  • Sarrià - Sant Gervasi: Pedralbes, Sarrià, Sant Gervasi, Vallvidrera
  • Gràcia: Vallcarca, Barri de la Salut, Gràcia, El Camp d'en Grassot
  • Horta-Guinardó: Horta, El Carmel, La Teixonera, El Guinardó (Alt i Baix)
  • Nou Barris: Can Peguera, Porta, Canyelles, Ciutat Meridiana, Guineueta, Prosperitat, Vallbona, Verdum, Vilapicina, Roquetes, Trinitat Vella, Trinitat Nova, Torre Baró, Torre Llobeta and Turó de la Peira.
  • Sant Andreu: Barri del Congrés, Sant Andreu de Palomar
  • Sant Martí: Fort Pius, Sant Martí de Provençals, Poble Nou, La Verneda, el Clot


Barcelona, like Spain in general, has a well-developed higher education system of public universities. Most prominent among these is the University of Barcelona, a world-renowned research and teaching institution with campus around the city. Barcelona is also home to the Technical University of Catalonia, the newer Pompeu Fabra University and, in the private sector, the Ramon Llull University. The Autonomous University of Barcelona, another public university, is located in Bellaterra, a town in Barcelona's metropolitan area.

The city has a network of public schools, from nurseries to high schools, under the responsibility of the city council (though the student subjects are responsibility of the Generalitat de Catalunya). There are also many private schools, some of them Roman Catholic. Like other cities in Spain, Barcelona now faces the integration of a large number of immigrant children from Latin America, Africa and Asia.


Barcelona's culture is rich, stemming from the city's 2000 years of history. To a greater extent than the rest of Catalonia, where Catalonia's native Catalan is more dominant, Barcelona is a bilingual city: Catalan and Spanish are both official and widely spoken. Since the arrival of democracy, the Catalan culture (repressed during the dictatorship) has been promoted, both by recovering works from the past and by stimulating the creation of new works.


Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

Barcelona houses a great number of museums, which cover different areas and eras. The City History Museum, situated in a medieval building that used to be a royal residence, explains the story of the city, and includes a visit to the Roman ruins in the museum's basement.

The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Art of Catalonia) possesses a well-known collection of Romanesque art, including wall-paintings from Romanesque churches and chapels around Catalonia that have been transferred to the museum, Gothic art from the 13th-15th centuries, Renaissance and Baroque art from the 16th-18th centuries, Modern art from the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, as well as the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.

The Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art), usually known as MACBA, focuses on post-1945 Catalan and Spanish art, though it also includes foreign works. Adjacent to the MACBA, the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, or CCCB, hosts temporary exhibitions, a cinema, concerts and other cultural events.

The works of Joan Miró are found in the museum of the Fundació Joan Miró, together with guest exhibitions from other museums around the world, while the Picasso Museum features early works by Pablo Picasso and his "Las meninas" series. The Fundació Antoni Tàpies holds a collection of Tàpies works.

20th Century Architecture

The Sagrada Família church
The Sagrada Família church

Early 20th century architecture of Catalan (developed between 1885 and 1950) left an important legacy in Barcelona. A great part of them are World Heritage Sites.

Especially remarkable is the work of architect Antoni Gaudí, which can be seen around the city. His best known work is the immense but still unfinished temple of the Sagrada Família, which has been under construction since 1882, and is still financed by private donations. The Sagrada Família is billed for completion in 2026. Other examples of his work are the Palau Güell, the Park Güell, the Casa Milà (La Pedrera) and the Casa Batlló.

Another notable architect was Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who designed the Palau de la Música Catalana, the Hospital de Sant Pau and the Casa Lleó Morera. Josep Puig i Cadafalch's Casa Ametller can also be seen in the Passeig de Gràcia.

Barcelona won the 1999 RIBA Royal Gold Medal for its architecture. This is notably the first, and as of 2006, only time the winner has been a city, and not an architect.

World Heritage Sites in Barcelona

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Barcelona:

  • Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, included on the list on 1997.
  • Works of Antoni Gaudí, including Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Sagrada Família (Nativity façade and crypt), Casa Batlló, Crypt in Colonia Güell. The first three works were inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1984. The other four were added as extensions to the site in 2005.


Barcelona is home to several sports teams, both professional and amateur.

FC Barcelona is a sports club best known for its football team, one of the biggest in Europe and current champion of both the Spanish league and the UEFA Champions League. The FC Barcelona Museum is the second most visited museum in Catalonia. FC Barcelona also has teams in the Spanish basketball ACB league ( Winterthur FCB), the handball Allianz Asobal league ( FC Barcelona-Cifec), and the roller hockey league. It also has amateur teams in several other sports. RCD Espanyol is the city's other Liga football team and current holder of the Copa del Rey. Barcelona is the home province of Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Barcelona first hosted the 1979 Ice Hockey World Championship Pool C, then the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as several matches from the 1982 Football World Cup. Barcelona has two UEFA 5-star rated football stadiums: FC Barcelona's Camp Nou and the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, used for the 1992 Olympics and the current home of RCD Espanyol, pending completion of the club's new stadium. The Open Seat Godó, a 50 years-old ATP Tour International Series Gold tennis tournament is held annually in the installations of the Reial Club de Tenis Barcelona (Barcelona Royal Tennis Club).

Several popular running competitions are organized year-round in Barcelona: Cursa del Corte Inglés (with about 60,000 participants each year), Cursa de la Mercè, Cursa Jean Bouin, Milla Sagrada Família and the San Silvestre. Also, each Christmas, a swimming race across the port is organized.

Near Barcelona, in Montmeló, the 131,000 capacity Circuit de Catalunya racetrack hosts the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix and Moto GP races.

Barcelona has also become very popular with skateboarders. This has led to a new anti-skateboarding law, which came into effect in 2006. Even though it is still possible to skateboard in the city, skateboarders are sometimes given tickets.



Barcelona is served by El Prat International Airport in the town of El Prat de Llobregat, about 3 km from Barcelona. It is the second-largest airport in Spain and the largest on the Mediterranean coast. The airport is connected to the city by highway, commuter train and scheduled bus service. The Sabadell Airport is a smaller airport in the nearby town of Sabadell, devoted to pilot training, advertising flights, aerotaxi and private flights. Some low-cost airlines, like Ryanair and Martinair, prefer to use the Girona-Costa Brava Airport, situated about 100 km to the north of Barcelona.


Barcelona's port has a 2000 year history and a great contemporary commercial importance. It is the most important Mediterranean port for general cargo of containers and cruisers. The port is managed by the Port Authority of Barcelona. Its 7.86 square kilometres are divided in three zones: Port Vell (the Old Port), the commercial port and the logistics port. The port is undergoing an enlargement that will double its size thanks to diverting the mouth of the Llobregat river 2 km to the south.


Barcelona is a major hub for RENFE, the Spanish state railway network, and its main suburban train station is Sants Estació. The AVE high-speed rail system was recently extended from Madrid to Lleida in western Catalonia, and is expected to reach Barcelona by 2007. Renfe and the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) run Barcelona's widespread commuter train service.

Public transport

Barcelona's Trambaix
Barcelona's Trambaix

The Barcelona Metro network is composed of nine lines, identified by an "L" followed by the line number as well as by individual colours. Six of them (L1, L2, L3, L4, L5 and L11) are managed by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), while the other three (L6, L7 and L8) are FGC commuter lines that run through the city. The metro network runs through Barcelona and connects it to a few towns in its metropolitan area. Currently under construction, the L9, covering almost 43 km, will be the longest metro line in Europe, and will connect the city to El Prat Airport.

TMB operates scheduled day bus services through the city, plus a sightseeing bus service called Bus Turístic. It also operates the tram lines known as Trambaix and Trambesòs and the funiculars that climb Montjuic and Tibidabo.

There are also scheduled night bus lines (Nitbus). Transports Ciutat Comtal operates the regular Tomb Bus (across the Diagonal avenue, stopping at major shopping centers) and Aerobus (to the airport) services. It also operates the Port Bus, a service for cruise passengers, and Tibibus, to the Tibidabo amusement park. Other companies operate services that connect the city with towns in the metropolitan area.

The Estació del Nord (Northern Station), a former train station that was renovated for the 1992 Olympic Games, now serves as the terminus for long-distance and regional bus services.

Barcelona Taxi
Barcelona Taxi

Barcelona also has two cable cars: one to the Montjuïc castle (operated by TMB) and another that runs via Torre Jaume I and Torre Sant Sebastia over the port.


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 licenses are in the hands of self-employed drivers, leading to a clean and generally good service.

With their black and yellow livery, Barcelona's taxis are easily spotted.

Some of the sights

Sister cities

Retrieved from ""