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Barcelona (, ) is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of 101.4 km2. The urban area of Barcelona extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of between 4,200,000 and 4,500,000 on an area of 803 km2, people live in the Barcelona metropolitan area. It is also Europe's largest metropolis on the Mediterranean coast. It is the main component of an administrative area of Greater Barcelona, with a population of 3,218,071 in an area of 636 km² (density 5,060 hab/km²). It is located on the Mediterranean coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs and is bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola ridge (512 m).

Barcelona is today one of the world's leading tourist, economic, trade fair/exhibitions and cultural-sports centres, and its influences in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. Indeed, it is a major economic centre and a growing financial centre (Diagonal Mar area and Gran Via); one of Europe's principal Mediterranean ports, can be found here as well as Barcelona international airport, which handles about 30 million passengers per year. It also boasts an extensive motorway network and is a hub of high-speed rail, particularly that which will link France with Spain. Barcelona is the 16th-most-visited city in the world and 4th most visited in Europe after Paris, London, and Rome, with several million tourists every year. Barcelona is the 16th most "livable city" in the world according to lifestyle magazine Monocle. Similarly, according to Innovation Analysts 2thinknow, Barcelona occupies 13th place in the world on Innovation Cities™ Global Index. It is the 4th richest city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world with an output amounting to €177 billion, a figure nonetheless smaller than alternative estimates. Consequently, its GDP per capita output stands at €39,859 – some 44% higher than the European Union average and GDP per head is €80,894 according to Eurostat. Similarly, the city of Barcelona stands in 29th place in a list of net personal earnings headed by Zurich. The city is Europe's 3rd and one of the world's most successful as a city brand, both in terms of reputation and assets. Barcelona is 7th most important fashion capital in the world. Also, the city is Europe's 4th best business city and fastest improving European city, with growing improved by 17% per year.

Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona became one of the most important cities of 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 the 1992 Summer Olympics. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona.

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 city is also the capital of the Province of Barcelona and the Barcelonès comarca (shire).


The name Barcelona comes from the ancient Iberian Phoenician Barkeno, attested in an ancient coin inscription in Iberian script as , in Ancient Greek sources as , Barkinṓn; and in Latin as Barcino, Barcilonum and Barceno.

During the Middle Ages, the city was variously known as Barchinona, Barçalona, Barchelona, and Barchenona.

Some sources say that the city could have been named after the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, who was supposed to have founded the city in the 3rd century BC.


The founding of Barcelona is the subject of two different legends. The first attributes the founding of the city to the mythological Hercules 400 years before the building of Rome. The second legend attributes the foundation of the city directly to the historical Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who named the city Barcino after his family in the 3rd century BC.

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. Mela 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. It enjoyed immunity from imperial burdens. The city minted its own coins; some from the era of Galba survive.

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 city was conquered by the Visigoths in the early 5th century, becoming for a few years the capital of the whole Hispania. After being conquered by the Arabs in the early 8th century, it was reconquered 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.

The Counts of Barcelona became increasingly independent and expanded their territory to include all of Catalonia. In 1137, Aragon and the County of Barcelona merged by dynastic union by the marriage of Ramon Berenguer IV and Petronilla of Aragon, and their titles were finally borne by only one person when their son Alfonso II of Aragon ascended to the throne in 1162. His territories were later to be known as 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 13th century. The forging of a dynastic link between the Crowns of Aragon and Castile marked the beginning of Barcelona's decline.

The marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in 1469 united the two royal lines. The centre of political power became Madrid and the colonisation of the Americas reduced the financial importance (at least in relative terms) of Mediterranean trade. Barcelona was always the stronghold of Catalan separatism and was the center of the Catalan Revolt (1640–52) against Philip IV of Spain. The great plague of 1650–1654 halved the city's population. The Napoleonic wars left the province ravaged, but the postwar period saw the start of industrialization.

In the eighteenth century a fortress was built at Montjuïc that overlooked the harbour. In 1794, this fortress was used by the French astronomer Pierre François André Méchain for observations relating to a survey stretching to Dunkirk that provided the basis of the metre. The definitive metre bar, manufactured from platinum, was presented to the French legislative assembly on 22 June 1799.

The resistance of Barcelona to Franco's coup d'état was to have lasting effects after the defeat of the Republican government. The autonomous institutions of Catalonia were abolished, and the use of the Catalan language in public life was suppressed. Barcelona remained the second largest city in Spain, at the heart of a region which was relatively industrialised and prosperous, despite the devastation of the civil war. The result was a large-scale immigration from poorer regions of Spain (particularly Andalucia, Murcia and Galicia), which in turn led to rapid urbanisation. Barcelona hosted the Olympic Games in 1992, which helped revitalize the city.


Barcelona is located on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the Mediterranean Sea, on a plateau approximately 5 km wide limited by the mountain range of Collserola, the Llobregat river to the southwest and the Besòs river to the north. This plateau has 170 km2, are occupied by the city itself. It is 120 km (75 mi) south of the Pyrenees and the Catalonian border with France.

Tibidabo, 512 m high, offers striking views over the city and is topped by the 288.4 m Torre de Collserola, a telecommunications tower that is visible from most of the city. Barcelona is peppered with small hills, most of them urbanized and that gave their name to the neighbourhoods built upon them, such as Carmel (267 m), Putxet (181 m) and Rovira (261 m). The escarpment of Montjuïc (173 m), situated to the southeast, overlooks the harbour and is topped by Montjuïc castle, a fortress built in the 17–18th centuries to control the city as a replacement for the Ciutadella. Today, the fortress is a museum and Montjuïc is home to several sporting and cultural venues, as well as Barcelona's biggest park and gardens.

The city borders are the municipalities of Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Sant Adrià de Besòs to the north; the Mediterranean Sea to the east; El Prat de Llobregat and L'Hospitalet de Llobregat to the south; and Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Sant Just Desvern, Esplugues de Llobregat, Sant Cugat del Vallès, and Montcada i Reixac to the west.


Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), with mild, humid winters and warm, dry summers.

Its average annual temperature is 20 °C during the day and 11 °C at night. Average annual temperature of sea is about 18 °C. In the coldest month – January, typically the temperature ranges from 8 to during the day, 2 to at night and the average sea temperature is 13 °C. In the warmest month – August, the typically temperature ranges from 25 to during the day, about 20 °C at night and the average sea temperature is 25 °C.

{{Weather box |location = Barcelona |metric first = yes |single line = yes |Jan high C = 13.4 |Feb high C = 14.6 |Mar high C = 15.9 |Apr high C = 17.6 |May high C = 20.5 |Jun high C = 24.2 |Jul high C = 27.5 |Aug high C = 28.0 |Sep high C = 25.5 |Oct high C = 21.5 |Nov high C = 17.0 |Dec high C = 14.3 |year high C = 20.0 |Jan mean C = 8.9 |Feb mean C = 10.0 |Mar mean C = 11.3 |Apr mean C = 13.1 |May mean C = 16.3 |Jun mean C = 20.0 |Jul mean C = 23.1 |Aug mean C = 23.7 |Sep mean C = 21.1 |Oct mean C = 17.1 |Nov mean C = 12.6 |Dec mean C = 10.0 |year mean C = 15.6 |Jan low C = 4.4 |Feb low C = 5.3 |Mar low C = 6.7 |Apr low C = 8.5 |May low C = 12.0 |Jun low C = 15.7 |Jul low C = 18.6 |Aug low C = 19.3 |Sep low C = 16.7 |Oct low C = 12.6 |Nov low C = 8.1 |Dec low C = 5.7 |year low C = 11.1 |Jan precipitation mm = 41 |Feb precipitation mm = 39 |Mar precipitation mm = 42 |Apr precipitation mm = 49 |May precipitation mm = 59 |Jun precipitation mm = 42 |Jul precipitation mm = 20 |Aug precipitation mm = 61 |Sep precipitation mm = 85 |Oct precipitation mm = 91 |Nov precipitation mm = 58 |Dec precipitation mm = 51 |year precipitation mm = 640 |Jan precipitation days = 5 |Feb precipitation days = 4 |Mar precipitation days = 5 |Apr precipitation days = 5 |May precipitation days = 5 |Jun precipitation days = 4 |Jul precipitation days = 2 |Aug precipitation days = 4 |Sep precipitation days = 5 |Oct precipitation days = 6 |Nov precipitation days = 5 |Dec precipitation days = 5 |year precipitation days = 55 |unit precipitation days = 1 mm |Jan sun = 149 |Feb sun = 163 |Mar sun = 200 |Apr sun = 220 |May sun = 244 |Jun sun = 262 |Jul sun = 310 |Aug sun = 282 |Sep sun = 219 |Oct sun = 180 |Nov sun = 146 |Dec sun = 138 |year sun = 2524 |source 1 = World Meteorological Organization (UN), Agencia Estatal de Meteorología This was a hard blow for the city as the fair brought €100 m to the city in just three days. There have been many attempts to launch Barcelona as a fashion capital, notably Gaudi Home. The Brandery, an urban fashion show, is held in Barcelona twice a year.

As in other modern cities, the manufacturing sector has long since been overtaken by the services sector, though it remains very important. The region's leading industries today are textiles, chemical, pharmaceutical, motor, electronic, printing, logistics, publishing, telecommunications and information technology services.

Drawing upon its tradition of creative art and craftsmanship, Barcelona is nowadays also known for its award-winning industrial design. It also has several congress halls, notably Fira de Barcelona (Trade Fair) - second largest trade fair and exhibition centres in Europe, that host a quickly growing number of national and international events each year, which had also meant the opening of new hotels each year. However, the economic crisis and deep cuts in business travel are affecting the Council's positioning of the city as a convention centre.

An important business centre in Barcelona, the World Trade Center Barcelona, is located in Barcelona's harbour Port Vell.

Infrastructures impact on the economy

Fira de Barcelona

The Fira de Barcelona, Barcelona trade show, organized numerous exhibitions, shows, congresses and fairs for professionals, some of which are among the first in the world, as the Mobile World Congress, which is the largest in the world in its sector, the urban fashion fair The Brandery, or the fair construction Construmat on a biannual basis. These and other shows makes it one of the most important fairs of Europe and former Spain with over 3.5 million annual visitors,

Fira de Barcelona is a trade fair ground and organizer that was officially constituted in 1932 in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It is publicly owned company with autonomous management, organizing more than 80 trade shows, bringing together 40,000 companies and receiving three and a half million visitors. According to this law, Barcelona's city council is organized in two levels: a political one, with elected city councilors, and one executive, which administrates the programs and executes the decisions taken on the political level. This law also gives the local government a special relationship with the central government and it also gives the mayor wider prerogatives by the means of municipal executive commissions. It expands the powers of the city council in areas like telecommunications, city traffic, road safety and public safety. It also gives a special economic regime to the city's treasury and it gives the council a veto in matters that will be decided by the central government, but that will need a favourable report from the council.

  • Montpellier, France, 1963
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1972
  • Monterrey, Mexico, 1977
  • Boston, United States, 1983
  • Busan, South Korea, 1983
  • Cologne, Germany, 1984
  • São Paulo, Brazil, 1985
  • Montevideo, Uruguay, 1985
  • Seville, Spain
  • San Francisco, United States, 2010
  • Gdańsk, Poland, 1990
  • Havana, Cuba, 1993
  • Guayaquil, Ecuador
  • Kobe, Japan, 1993
  • Antwerp, Belgium, 1997
  • Istanbul, Turkey, 1997
  • Tel Aviv, Israel, 1998
  • Gaza, Palestinian National Authority, 1998
  • Dublin, Ireland, 1998
  • Athens, Greece, 1999
  • Isfahan, Iran, 2000
  • Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2000
  • Valparaíso, Chile, 2001
  • Shanghai, People's Republic of China, 2001
  • Nicosia, Cyprus, 2004
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2006
  • Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, 2008
  • Cebu City, Philippines, 2009
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2009-05-29.

Other forms of cooperation and city friendship similar to the twin city programmes exist to many cities worldwide.

Other sights

See also

  • Catalan people
  • Catalan cuisine
  • List of markets in Barcelona
  • List of tallest buildings and structures in Barcelona
  • 1929 Barcelona International Exposition
  • Exposición Universal de Barcelona
  • Mossos d'Esquadra
  • Urban Region of Barcelona


  • Busquets, Joan. Barcelona: The Urban Evolution of a Compact City (Harvard UP, 2006) 468 pp.
  • McDonogh, Gary W. "Review Essay: Barcelona: Forms, Images, and Conflicts," Journal of Urban History (Jan. 2011) v37#1 pp 117–123 doi: 10.1177/0096144210384250
  • Marshall, Tim, ed. Transforming Barcelona (Routledge, 2004), 267 pp.
  • Ramon Resina, Joan. Barcelona's Vocation of Modernity: Rise and Decline of an Urban Image (Stanford UP, 2008). 272 pp.

External links