Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, is known for its art and architecture. The fantastical Sagrada Família church and other modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudí dot the city. Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró feature modern art by their namesakes. City history museum MUHBA, includes several Roman archaeological sites.
Sports & nature
Barcelona has a long sporting tradition and hosted the highly successful 1992 Summer Olympics as well as several matches during the 1982 FIFA World Cup (at the two stadiums). It has also hosted, among others, about 30 sports events of international significance.
FC Barcelona is a sports club best known worldwide for its football team, one of the largest in the world and second richest football club in the world. It has 69 of national (likewise 45 runners-up) and 17 continental (likewise 10 runners-up) trophies, including five of the UEFA Champions League (likewise 3 runners-up) and three of the FIFA Club World Cup (likewise 1 runners-up). Also, it is the only men's club in the world to accomplish a sextuple. FC Barcelona also has professional teams in other sports like FC Barcelona Regal (basketball), FC Barcelona Handbol (handball), FC Barcelona Hoquei (roller hockey), FC Barcelona Ice Hockey (ice hockey), FC Barcelona Futsal (futsal) and FC Barcelona Rugby (rugby union), all of them winners of the highest country or/and European competitions. The club's museum is the second most visited in Catalonia. Twice a season, FC Barcelona and cross-town rivals RCD Espanyol contest in the local derby in La Liga, while its basketball section has its own local derby in Liga ACB with nearby Joventut Badalona. Barcelona also has other clubs in lower categories, like CE Europa and UE Sant Andreu.
It may lack the diversity of the London scene or the cutting edge of the experimental Berlin nightlife, but considering it's only Spain's second biggest city Barcelona certainly packs a helluva party punch - and whether you like to get high with the hippies, or get down with the glitterati you'll find more than enough going on after the sun goes down... in fact, if you want to keep pace with the locals, you'd best be prepared to see the sun come back up again.
A metropolitan city of close to two million people (five if you include the whole urban area), there isn't one area to sample Barcelona's nightlife but rather a whole host of happening neighbourhoods to check out. Read on for the best barrios for going out and the best venues in each district, along with the general vibe... by the end of the article you'll have all the info you need to start your own nocturnal adventures!
Culture and history info
Barcelona was most likely founded by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century BC. Even if developed by the Romans, it remained a city of minor importance until the 11th century AD. The Moors left practically no traces, while it was Guifré el Pilòs who in 878 founded the dynasty of the Counts of Barcelona who ruled over the region for many centuries. During the 12th century the Counts of Barcelona obtained a great advantage from the fall of the caliphate of Cordoba, thanks to the gold they conquered they acquired a large fleet and Catalonia began its expansion in the Mediterranean and its golden age. At the end of the 14th century the Catalans possessed a kingdom that included Valencia, the Balearic Islands, southern France, Sardinia, Sicily and Athens.
After this a period of decline began and they lost power, in part due to a rivalry with Genoa, internal revolts and the black plague. In 1479 King Ferdinand of Aragon managed to include Catalonia in the unified kingdom of Castile and Aragon. Nevertheless, Catalonia was always denied taking part of the spoils of the Americas while Castile continued to accumulate unlimited wealth.
Catalonia acquired the right to trade with the Americas only in 1778, and thanks to its cotton trade, it started to develop a flourishing textile industry as well as iron and cork industries, in the 19th century. The 19th century was a crucial time for Barcelona: its demographic expansion made it necessary to destroy the medieval walls and build new districts, such as Eixample. It was also the century of the Catalan renaissance, or Renaixanca, when writers and intellectuals brought the question of the Catalan language to the forefront, while the nationalist movement was meeting with broad consensus in all the political parties.
Between the two centuries Barcelona witnessed a golden period in arts; it was in these centuries that the great Catalan Modernism originated and developed. However, the first decades of the 20th century were also years of upheaval and political revolts where the various factions fought for power, while the power of the anarchic political formations or those on the extreme left grew, backed by the city's enormous working class. The Spanish Civil War ended with the rise to power of the dictator Franco who destroyed the hopes for an independent Catalonia and prohibited the use of the Catalan language.
The post-Franco period brought democracy to Spain and returned autonomy to Catalonia. The Generalitat currently exercises broad powers over many aspects of the economic and social life of the region. The 1992 Olympic games finally gave Barcelona recognition as a great European city.