Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Barcelona
Barcelona lies on the Coast Dorada, between the mouths of the Riu Besós and the Riu Llobregat. It is Spain's largest city after Madrid. Barcelona is a major tourist destination with mild, humid winters and warm, dry summers.
The city has a favored situation in a wide coastal plain which rises gradually from the sea to the ridge of Tibidabo and is bounded on the northeast by the Montaña Pelada and on the southwest by Montjuïc. Beyond the Montaña Pelada is the valley which the Riu Besós has carved through the hills; to the south of Montjuïc, the Riu Llobregat reaches the sea after flowing through a wide and fertile valley which provides Barcelona with its vegetables and fruit.
The old town of Barcelona is bounded by the harbor and by the wide ring roads (ramblas) which have replaced the old town walls. On the highest point in the town center, Monte Tabor (12m/40ft), stands the cathedral, surrounded by medieval streets. The main street is the broad tree-shaded Rambla, which divides the old town into two parts. The newer parts of the city (ensanches), with their avenues of plane-trees and handsome houses, are for the most part laid out in accordance with a regular plan. Round the city, from Montjuïc to the Montaña Pelada are a series of attractive modern residential areas; industry and commerce are concentrated in the northeast. The 25th Olympic Summer Games of 1992 have indelibly changed the face of Barcelona, not only through the new building and upgrading of the Olympic sites but also in the town itself where avant-garde artists and designers have left their mark on the new harbor promenade and in many of the modern restaurants. In 1992, Barcelona also witnessed celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage of discovery.
There are numerous beaches along the redeveloped coastline including San Sebastia and Barceloneta. The Olympic port area is one of the most popular spots for recreation and leisure.History
According to local tradition Barcelona was founded by the Carthiginian general Hamilcar Barca in 218 B.C. It is first recorded under the Iberian name of Barcino, and in the time of Augustus it became a Roman colony under the name of Julia Faventia, to which the designations Augusta and Pia were later added. In 414 the Visigoths took the town, calling it Barcinona, and in 531 made it their capital. Under the Moors, who captured it in 716, it was called Barshaluna. Louis the Pious recovered it in 801 and made it the capital of the Spanish March which had been established by Charlemagne in 778.
In 874 the Counts of Barcelona achieved independence, and under their rule and during the later period when Catalonia was united with Aragon Barcelona ranked with Genoa and Venice as one of the leading commercial cities of the Mediterranean. Its power was shattered, however, by the union with Castile in the 15th century, and still more by the exclusion of Catalonia from trade with the New World. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13) it supported the cause of Archduke Charles of Austria, from whom it hoped to secure increased privileges, and much of the town was destroyed when it was stormed by the French in the Autumn of 1714. In the reign of Charles III, who granted the right to trade with America, Barcelona began to prosper again, and in the course of the 19th Century it recovered its former importance in the Mediterranean area. Major international exhibitions were held in the city in 1888 and 1929.
After the proclamation of the Republic in 1931 Catalonia was granted autonomy in 1932 (a status which it retained until 1939) and became the seat of the regional government. During the Civil War, in the course of which many old churches in the city were destroyed by fire, Barcelona was held by the Republicans until 1939. (From about 1880 until the 1930s it was a stronghold of the Spanish anarchist movement.)
In 1975 Catalan was recognized as an official language and the language of teaching. In a referendum held in October 1979 the people of Catalonia voted in favor of far-reaching proposals for self-government; soon afterwards the Spanish Congress of Deputies passed a law granting Catalonia autonomy; and in the following year a regional parliament was elected.
Barcelona is the cultural capital of Catalonia and hosts a packed calendar of festivals, exhibitions and concerts. It is also home to 70 museums, among which we highlight the Museu Nacional d'Art de Cartalunya, which takes visitors on a journey through 1,000 years of art, the Museu Picasso and the Fundació Miró.
The city has become a major gourmet destination, with restaurants boasting a total of 21 Michelin stars, and is a favourite with shoppers, with its 5-kilometre retail thoroughfare known as the Barcelona Shopping Line. Meetings and business tourism is another of the strong points of the city, which has become Europe and the Mediterranean's leading cruise port over the past five years.