Barcelona & Catalonia
City of Barcelona
Catalonia is a self-governing, autonomous region, located in north-eastern Spain and covers an area of 18534 sq.mi. Catalonia is five of the seventeen regions of Spain, others include the Basque Country, Andalucia and Galicia. Catalonia population is about 6 million. Catalonia consists of the provinces of Gerona, Lerida, Barcelona and Tarragona.
The Catalan flag consists of 4 vertical red stripes on a yellow background and can be seen flying on all public buildings next to the Spanish flag. The Catalan language is a blend of Latin, French and Spanish and is spoken from the French area of Roussillon down the coast as far as Alicante and including the Balearic Islands. There are two official languages in Catalonia: Catalan and Castilian.
The city of Barcelona is the capital and the seat of the regional government (Generalitat de Cataluña).
CITY OF BARCELONA
There has been a flourishing city and port on this site for well over 2000 years. In Roman times it was known as Barcino and part of the Roman city can still be seen. In the Middle Ages the centre of the city was what is now known as the "Gothic Quarter" and there are many examples of medieval architecture around the Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace and the building which today houses the Catalan government (Generalitat de Cataluña) in the Plaza Sant Jaume.
Near the sea can be found the "Ribera" district with the splendid church of Santa Maria del Mar and the Picasso Museum. Nearby is the park of the "Ciutadella" and the famous zoo, museums and the Catalan parliament.
There are also many bars and cafes with tables and chairs on the Ramblas where one can sit and watch the world go by in a unique atmosphere. In the small streets off the Ramblas there are many types of restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets.
During the 19th century the city saw a period of great expansion. Following the plan of the architect Ildefonso Cerdà, the area known as the Eixample, with its wide streets and avenues, was built. Now in this area of the city some of the best shops, boutiques and art galleries can be found.
The church of the Sagrada Familia, designed over 100 years ago by the Catalan architect Gaudi and still unfinished, must be seen. Also the Guell Park, which is another of his great works.In the Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village) on Montjuic can be seen reproductions of houses and streets from all the regions of Spain and craftsmen can be found still practising their trades. Also on Montjuic are the Olympic Stadium, swimming and diving pools.
The Paseo de Gracia is also very interesting with typical buildings such as "La Pedrera" and "Casa Batllo". The most fashionable quarter is the Olympic Village with a very nice sporting harbour full of restaurants and fashionable bars.