Barcelona: Mediterranean Capital
Since Barcelona was founded over 2000 years ago it has pursued its vocation as a great Mediterranean metropolis. With its privileged location on the Iberian Peninsula, between the sea and the mountains, it is the cultural and administrative capital of Catalonia and the traditional gateway to Spain.
Its mild climate throughout the year is an invitation to experience the city to the full, both by day and by night. Strolling through the captivating, lively streets, you can sense the hospitality and friendliness of its inhabitants.
The old city, formed by the Gothic Quarter and the Ribera and Raval neighbourhoods, is famous for its historic buildings. A walk through its old streets is essential in order to understand the different periods in the history of Barcelona, to contemplate its monuments, the Roman wall among perfectly conserved Gothic buildings, the remains of the Jewish quarter, and above all, to enjoy its characteristic Mediterranean atmosphere.
There is no better place to get to know Barcelona than La Rambla, a colourful, bustling avenue that begins beside the sea at the Mirador de Colom and goes up to the Plaça de Catalunya, a meeting point and the centre of urban communications. Considered as the lively and dynamic heart of the city, it is essential to visit it from top to bottom. Street musicians, opera singers, mime artists, painters, human statues, flower stalls and bird sellers, the Boqueria market, the Gran Teatre del Liceu -restored at the end of 1999-and the countless shops and friendly cafés make up a unique and unforgettable walk.
Continuing towards the mountains, we come to the Eixample district: a unique European model of urban planning. Designed in 1860 by Ildefons Cerdà, it contains one of the largest collections of modernista[Catalan art-nouveau] architecture on the continent. The famous Passeig de Gràcia contains the most representative buildings from this movement. Antoni Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch and Domènech i Montanerexpressed their creativity in the residences of the Catalan bourgeoisie of that time.
Casa Batlló, Casa Amatller and Casa Milà –better known as La Pedrera [the stone quarry]- are just some of the buildings which bring together a host of almost unprecedented, exuberant colours and forms.Modernisme can be appreciated throughout the city. Spectacular buildings like the church of the Sagrada Família -an unfinished work by Gaudí-, the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Park Güell make up, along with other buildings, a legacy of modernisme that can only be seen here.
The Sagrada Família, the Casa Batlló, the Casa Vicens and the Colònia Güell have been designated World Heritage Sites, together with the Palau Güell, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, the Park Güell and the Palau de la Música Catalana.
But the city does not live only through the past. Barcelona -an active and dynamic city- is in a constant process of renewal. In the last decade, it has experienced an impressive transformation. The holding of the 1992 Olympic Games -considered, at the time, the best in history- meant that the city was opened up to the sea, and provided with an infrastructure of roads incorporating the latest technology. The major 1992 event left a rich architectural legacy –Isozaki’s sports facility the Palau Sant Jordi, the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium, the Olympic Ring, on the Montjuïc’s mountain- and a rich urban legacy which continue to grow with the great challenge of the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures.
The website www.barcelonaturisme.cat features comprehensive information about this new service