Barcelona Travel Blog› entry 3 of 3 › view all entries
i would like to come back to visit the miro museum and picasso museum.
Barcelona is the capital and most populous city of Catalonia
and the second largest city in Spain, with a population of 1,605,602 in 2006,
while the population of the Metropolitan Area was 3,161,081. It is the central
nucleus of the Urban Region of Barcelona, which relies on a population of 4,856,579.
It is located on the Mediterranean coast ( [show location on an interactive
map] 41°23′N, 2°11′E) between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs and is limited
to the west by the Serra de Collserola ridge (512 m/1,680 ft).
Barcelona is a major economic centre with one of Europe's principal Mediterranean ports, and Barcelona International Airport is the second largest in Spain. Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona and the Crown of Aragon. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination and has a rich cultural heritage. Particularly renowned are architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is well known in recent times for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics.
As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona houses the seat of the Catalan government, known as the Generalitat de Catalunya; of particular note are the executive branch, the parliament, 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.
About 15 BC, the Romans redrew the town as a castrum (Roman military camp) centred on the "Mons Taber", a little hill near the contemporary city hall (Plaça de Sant Jaume). Under the Romans, it was a colony with the surname of Faventia, or, in full, Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino or Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino.
Some important Roman ruins 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 in the layout of the historical centre, the Barri Gòtic ("Gothic Quarter"). Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the cathedral. The cathedral, also known as basilica La Seu is said to have been founded in 343.
The Counts of Barcelona became increasingly independent and expanded their territory to include all of Catalonia, later the Crown of Aragon which conquered many overseas possessions, ruling the western Mediterranean Sea with outlying territories in Naples and Sicily and as far as Athens in the thirteenth century. The forging of a dynastic link between the Crowns of Aragon and Castile marked the beginning of Barcelona's decline.
Barcelona has seven beaches, totalling 4.5 km (2.8 mi) of coastline. Sant Sebastià and Barceloneta beaches, both 1,100 m (3,610 ft) in length,are the largest, oldest and the most frequented beaches in Barcelona. The Olympic port separates them from the other city beaches: Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant. These beaches (ranging from 400 to 640 m/1,300 to 2,100 ft) were opened as a result of the city restructuring to host the 1992 Summer Olympics, when a great number of industrial buildings were demolished. At present, the beach sand is replenished from quarries given that storms regularly remove large quantities of material. Greenpeace has criticized the beaches as environmentally unsustainable and as prejudicial to sea bed flora and fauna.
The area around the Plaça Catalunya makes up the city's historical centre and, alongside the upper half of Avinguda Diagonal, is the main commercial area of the city. Barcelona has several commercial complexes, like L'Illa in the higher part of the Diagonal avenue and Diagonal Mar in the lowest, La Maquinista, Glòries in the place of the same name and the Maremagnum by the port.
Barcelona has several skyscrapers, the highest being the Hotel Arts and its twin the Torre Mapfre, both 154 m (505 ft) high, followed by the newest Torre Agbar 144 m (472 ft) high.
Entertainment and performing arts
Barcelona has many venues for live music and theatre, including the world-renowned Gran Teatre del Liceu opera theatre, the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, the Teatre Lliure and the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall. Barcelona also is home to the Sónar Music Festival which takes place around June every year, and to the Barcelona and Catalonia National Symphonic Orchestra (Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, usually known as OBC) is the largest symphonic orchestra in Catalonia. In 1999, the OBC inaugurated its new venue in the brand-new Auditorium (l'Auditori). It performs around 75 concerts per season and its current director is Eiji Oue. It has a thriving alternative music scene, with groups such as The Pinker Tones receiving international attention.
Barcelona houses a great number of museums, which cover different areas and eras. The National Museum of Art of Catalonia possesses a well-known collection of Romanesque art while the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art focuses on post-1945 Catalan and Spanish art. The Fundació Joan Miró, Picasso Museum and Fundació Antoni Tàpies hold important collections of these world-renowned artists.
Several museums cover the fields of history and archeology, like the City History Museum, the Museum of the History of Catalonia, the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia, the Barcelona Maritime Museum and the private-owned Egiptian Museum. The Erotic museum of Barcelona is among the most peculiar ones, while Cosmocaixa is a science museum that received the European Museum of the Year Award in 2006.
The Barri Gòtic ("Gothic Quarter" in Catalan) is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. Many of the buildings date from medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. Catalan modernisme architecture (often known as Art Nouveau in the rest of Europe), developed between 1885 and 1950 and left an important legacy in Barcelona. A great number of these buildings are World Heritage Sites. Especially remarkable is the work of architect Antoni Gaudí, which can be seen throughout the city. His best known work is the immense but still unfinished church of the Sagrada Família, which has been under construction since 1882, and is still financed by private donations. As of 2007, completion is planned for 2026.
Barcelona won the 1999 RIBA Royal Gold Medal for its architecture,the first (and as of 2007, only) time that the winner has been a city, and not an individual architect.
Public transportation (is one of the best)
Barcelona is served by a comprehensive local public transport network that includes a metro, a bus network, two separate tram networks (one of them, the Tramvia Blau, connects to the Funicular del Tibidabo), and several funiculars and aerial cable cars. The Barcelona Metro network comprises nine lines, identified by an "L" followed by the line number as well as by individual colours. Most of the network is operated by the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), but three lines are FGC commuter lines that run through the city.
The TMB also operates the city's tram networks, known as Trambaix and Trambesòs, and the city's daytime bus network, as well as a tourist bus service. The night bus network, known as Nitbus, is operated by Mohn. Transports Ciutat Comtal operates the regular Tomb Bus (along the Diagonal avenue) and Aerobus (to the airport) services. Other companies operate services that connect the city with towns in the metropolitan area.
The Funicular de Montjuïc climbs the Montjuïc hill. The Vallvidrera and Funicular de Tibidabo funiculars climb the Tibidabo hill. The city has two aerial cable cars: one to the Montjuïc castle and another that runs via Torre Jaume I and Torre Sant Sebastia over the port.
Barcelona is a major hub for RENFE, the Spanish state railway network, and its main intercity train station is Barcelona-Sants station. The AVE high-speed rail system was recently extended from Madrid to Tarragona in southern Catalonia, and is expected to reach Barcelona by 2007. Renfe cercanías/rodalies and the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) run Barcelona's widespread commuter train service.
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 has a metered taxi fleet governed by the Institut Metropolità del Taxi (Metropolitan Taxi Institute), composed of more than 10,000 cars.
On March 22, 2007, Barcelona's City Council started the Bicing service, a bicycle service understood as a public transport. Once the user has their user card, they can take a bicycle from any of the 100 stations spread around the city and use it anywhere the urban area of the city, and then leave it at another station. The service has been a success, with 50,000 subscribed users in three months.