Barcelona (/bɑːrsəˈloʊnə/, Catalan: [bəɾsəˈlonə], Spanish: [barθeˈlona]) is the capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain as well as Spain’s second most populous municipality, with a population of 1.6 million within its administrative limits. Its urban area extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of around 4.7 million people, being the seventh-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area, Berlin and Milan. It is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres (1,680 ft) high. Founded as a Roman city, in the Middle Ages Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon as an economical and administrative center of this Crown and the capital of the Principality of Catalonia. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural center and a major tourist destination. Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments. Barcelona is one of the world’s leading tourist, economic, trade fair and cultural centers, and its influence in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. It is a major cultural and economic center in southwestern Europe, 24th in the world (before Zürich, after Frankfurt) and a financial center. In 2008 it was the fourth most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world with GDP amounting to €177 billion. In 2012 Barcelona had a GDP of $170 billion; it is leading Spain in both employment rate and GDP per capita change. In 2009 the city was ranked Europe’s third and one of the world’s most successful as a city brand. In the same year the city was ranked Europe’s fourth best city for business and fastest improving European city, with growth improved by 17% per year, but it has since been in a full recession with declines in both employment and GDP per capita, with some recent signs of the beginning of an economic recovery. Since 2011 Barcelona is a leading smart city in Europe. Barcelona is a transport hub with the Port of Barcelona being one of Europe’s principal seaports and busiest European passenger port, an international airport, Barcelona–El Prat Airport, which handles above 40 million passengers per year, an extensive motorway network and a high-speed rail line with a link to France and the rest of Europe.
Historic buildings and monuments
Further information: List of Modernista buildings in Barcelona
- Minor basilica of Sagrada Família, the international symbol of Barcelona
- Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, included in the UNESCO Heritage List in 1997.
- Works by Antoni Gaudí, including Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Milà (La Pedrera), 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.
- The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Eulalia (Gothic)
- Gothic basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
- Gothic basilica of Santa Maria del Pi
- Romanesque church of Sant Pau del Camp
- Palau Reial Major, medieval residence of the sovereign Counts of Barcelona, later Kings of Aragon
- The Royal Shipyard (gothic)
- Monastery of Pedralbes (gothic)
- The Columbus Monument
- The Arc de Triomf, a triumphal arch built for entrance to 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition.
- Expiatory church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the summit of Tibidabo.
Sports In Barcelona
Barcelona has two UEFA elite stadiums: FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 100,000 and the publicly owned Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, with a capacity of 55,000; used for the 1992 Olympics. Also, the city has several smaller stadiums such as Mini Estadi, with a capacity of 15,000 and Camp Municipal Narcís Sala, Nou Sardenya with a capacity of 7,000. In the suburbs of Barcelona there is a third UEFA elite stadium – Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, with a capacity of 40,000. Also, except Palau Sant Jordi (St. George’s sporting arena), with a capacity of 12,000–24,000 (depending on use), city has two other larger sporting and concert arena: Palau Blaugrana, with a capacity of 7,500 and Palau dels Esports de Barcelona. Circuit de Catalunya/Circuit de Barcelona, race track of Formula 1 and MotoGP on the suburb of Barcelona. Barcelona was also the host city for the 2013 World Aquatics Championships, which were held at the Palau San Jordi. Several road running competitions are organized year-round in Barcelona: the Barcelona Marathon every March with over 10,000 participants in 2010, the Cursa de Bombers in April, the Cursa de El Corte Inglés in May (with about 60,000 participants each year), the Cursa de la Mercè, the Cursa Jean Bouin, the Milla Sagrada Família and the San Silvestre. The Open Seat Godó, a 50-year-old ATP World Tour 500 Series tennis tournament, is held annually in the facilities of the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona (Barcelona Royal Tennis Club). Also, each Christmas, a swimming race across the port is organized. Near Barcelona, in Montmeló, the 107,000 capacity Circuit de Catalunya / Circuit de Barcelona racetrack hosts the Formula One World Championship, Formula One Spanish Grand Prix, Catalan motorcycle Grand Prix, Spanish GT Championship and GP2 Series. Skateboarding and bicycling are also very popular in Barcelona. In the city and the metropolitan area, there are tens of km of bicycle paths.
Airports in Barcelona
Barcelona is served by Barcelona-El Prat Airport, about 17 km (11 mi) from the center of Barcelona. It is the second-largest airport in Spain, and the largest on the Mediterranean coast, which handles more than 37.5 million passengers a year, showing an annual upward trend. It is a main hub for Vueling Airlines and Ryanair, and also a focus for Iberia and Air Europa. The airport mainly serves domestic and European destinations, although some airlines offer destinations in Latin America, Asia and the United States. The airport is connected to the city by highway, metro (Airport T1 and Airport T2 stations), commuter train (Barcelona Airport railway station) and scheduled bus service. A new terminal (T1) has been built, and entered service on 17 June 2009. Some low-cost airlines, also use Girona-Costa Brava Airport, about 90 km (56 mi) to the north, Reus Airport, 77 km (48 mi) to the south, or Lleida-Alguaire Airport, about 150 km (93 mi) to the west, of the city. Sabadell Airport is a smaller airport in the nearby town of Sabadell, devoted to pilot training, aerotaxi and private flights.
Seaport in Barcelona
The Port of Barcelona has a 2000-year-old history and a great contemporary commercial importance. It is Europe’s ninth largest container port, with a trade volume of 1.72 million TEU’s in 2013. The port is managed by the Port Authority of Barcelona. Its 10 km2 (4 sq mi) are divided into three zones: Port Vell (the old port), the commercial port and the logistics port (Barcelona Free Port). The port is undergoing an enlargement that will double its size thanks to diverting the mouth of the Llobregat river 2 kilometres (1 mile) (1¼ mi) to the south.
The Barcelona harbour is the leading European cruiser port and a most important Mediterranean turnaround base. In 2013, 3,6 million of pleasure cruises passengers used services of the Port of Barcelona. The Port Vell area also houses the Maremagnum (a commercial mall), a multiplex cinema, the IMAX Port Vell and one of Europe’s largest aquariums – Aquarium Barcelona, containing 8,000 fish and 11 sharks contained in 22 basins filled with 4 million litres of sea water. The Maremagnum, being situated within the confines of the port, is the only commercial mall in the city that can open on Sundays and public holidays.