The city through the ages

Barcino was founded as a Roman colony more than two thousand years ago. They chose to build the city in a sandy enclave on the northeastern Iberian coast, situated between the mouths of the Llobregat and the Besos rivers and protected by the Collserola mountain range. The strategic position of the first settlement, well communicated both by water and by land, with a seaport and walls, was well suited for a capital city. The benign climate and the abundance of natural resources were to do the rest, and, over the centuries, the city became the capital of Catalunya and Spain’s principal trading port.

The history of Barcelona is closely linked to that of the Catalan nation and, in turn to that of the Catalan language which is the fruit of the evolution of Latin ( more related to Provencal French than Castilian Spanish ), and a cohesive element in the traditions, culture, and identity of the country.

One of the city’s greatest moments took place in the Middle Ages when the different fiefs united as the County of Barcelona under the French kings, and this unification gave rise to the great Catalan expansion throughout the Mediterranean in the 13th and 14th centuries. Traces of these commercial and military feats can still be seen today in many places, for example, Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, and even Athens, and, of course, in the city of Barcelona itself.

The splendid Gothic quarter, the Palau Reial, the palaces on Carrer Montcada, the Drassanes ( shipyards ), and several churches, such as Santa Maria del Mar, all bear witness to this glorious past.

Following its Roman birth and energetic, medieval youth, Barcelona achieved maturity in the middle of the 19th century when it embraced the industrial revolution and consolidated its position as the Spanish city of greatest European leaning. Barcelona underwent a total transformation during those years.

Down came the city walls, the urban structure expanded with the creation of the Eixample, the economic profile became more industrialized and the city was culturally reborn via the Renaixenca ( Renaissance ), which, in turn, sowed the seeds of the Modernisme movement whose magnificent fruits were harvested at the beginning of the 20th century. This was the crop that endowed the city with its most characteristic image – the most vivid impression left in the memory of its 20th-century visitors.

During the last decade of the last century, with the background of the 1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona has made a great leap forward. More open to the sea than ever, converted into a model of modern urban planning, culturally and economically consolidated, and decked out by both local and internationally renowned artists and architects, Barcelona underlined its condition as the city of reference. A reference that was first Catalan, then the Mediterranean, and is now, finally, Universal.

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