If you know Lionel Messi, you know Barcelona. It is home to one of the most popular football clubs in the world, FC Barcelona, lovingly known as Barça. If you are not a fan of this sport, you would still know Barcelona as the capital of the Catalonia community. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain.
Barcelona is well advanced technologically. It became a leading Smart City in Europe in 2011. Apart from world-class technology, the city has a rich heritage and a unique culture.
While the best way to discover the insights into any place is to actually visit, it’s fun to know a few facts beforehand. It helps you plan your trip better and decide on what you would want to explore. Or maybe you’ve already been, and just want to know a little more about this intriguing city.
Where in Spain is Barcelona?
Barcelona is situated along the North-Eastern Mediterranean coast of mainland Spain. It is the largest city in the Catalonia region, the Northern part of Spain. The Catalans have their own traditions and customs, different from the rest of the country.
How big is Barcelona?
Barcelona spans an area of 101.4 square kilometers(63.01 miles ). Its population is around 1.6 million within the city limits. Its greater urban area houses around 4.8 million people, stretching into the neighboring Province of Barcelona municipalities.
Barcelona is Europe’s sixth-most populous urban area.
When was Barcelona founded?
Barcelona was founded towards the end of the 1st century, BC, during the Neolithic times. It was founded by the Romans as an Iberian village named Barkeno.
The city was ruled by Muslims for over 200 years. It eventually became a Catholic nation under the Crown of Aragon, after the Christian reconquest, or reconquista.
What languages do the locals speak?
Barcelona has two official languages:
Since it is the capital of Catalonia, Catalan is widely spoken in the city. Due to migration and inter-city interaction with the rest of Spain, people also speak Spanish interchangeably. While few people speak only one of the two languages, most of the locals are fluent in English, especially in the tourist areas.
Climate of Barcelona
Barcelona is protected by a semi-circular shield of mountains, that stops the cold, harsh winds from the west and the north. Despite this, the weather can get windy sometimes.
The coldest month in the region is January, with temperatures of about 49°F(9°C), while the hottest month is August, with the temperature rising to 76°F(24°C). The average annual temperature of Barcelona is around 61°F(16°C).
What is Barcelona famous for?
Barcelona is known for a lot of things. It has blessed us with spectacular writers like George Orwell, Ernest Hemmingway, and Emma Goldman.
Apart from this intellectual aspect, Barcelona is popular in other areas like football, architecture, and political philosophy. It found its name in the list of the most popular destinations of the world after it hosted the Olympics in 1992.
Barcelona is known for its football club, FC Barcelona, which was founded in 1899. It is also famous for the team’s home ground stadium, Camp Nou, which is the largest football stadium in the world.
Barcelona is famous for its incredibly elegant architecture. It is the only city in the world to have received a ‘Royal Gold Medal for Architecture’. Some of the most prominent buildings of interest are:
- The unfinished Sagrada Familia church by Antoni Gaudi, which is the second most visited church in the world
- Montjuic Olympic Center
- Poble Espanyol Museum, a museum depicting architectural works from different regions in Spain
- Antoni Gaudi park, dedicated to the talented architect with the same name, with access to his house-museum
Barcelona has hosted various famous and well-known artists and painters at different points in time. They used to work here, the influence of which is still evident today. The works of artists like Miro and Picasso have found a home in museums dedicated especially to them.
In addition, there are various other art galleries displaying the works of other famous artists. There is certainly no dearth of cultural places of interest for art connoisseurs in Barcelona.
Barcelona is known for its political philosophy and the significance that it holds. The city had the first trade union in Europe. It is home to the first school ever to offer free education to children, irrespective of their gender or religion.
Traditional food in Barcelona
Barcelona is a foodie’s paradise. The food here is different from the rest of the country. You haven’t tried it all unless you have tried the food in the Catalonian capital.
Some of the most popular and traditional dishes, dating back hundreds of years are:
- Paella – a seafood dish from Valencia
- Bombas – potato croquettes served with different sauce
- Esqueixada – a raw salted cod salad, served with olives, tomatoes, onions, and sauces
- Escalivada – a dish made with eggplant and red peppers, served with toasted bread
- Crema Catalana – similar to a creme brûlée, a creamy vanilla custard, blow torched to form a glassy crust.
Fun facts about Barcelona
Fun stories are the essence of the identity of a city. Knowing the facts about places of interest makes them even more interesting to explore. Barcelona is full of such fun facts, which make it an enthralling city to visit.
There is an alternate theory about its origin
In contrast to the theory that Barcelona was founded by the Romans, there is another theory in circulation. Some believe that Hercules founded the city of Barcelona, 400 years before Rome was even built.
There is no evidence to prove or disprove any of the two theories. It is up to an individual as to what theory he or she chooses to believe.
Does Barcelona have a beach?
People often wonder, “Is there a beach in Barcelona?” There were no beaches in the city until the Olympics in 1992. Ahead of the major sporting event, artificial beaches were created from Barceloneta to Poblenou. Until then, there was only a rocky shore in the name of a Barcelona seaside waterfront.
Today, Barcelona has been voted as one of the best beach cities in the world by National Geographic.
It has a Museum of Funeral Carriages
Funeral Carriages are not something that is extensively seen in museums. Barcelona is home to the only Museum of Funeral Carriages in Europe, located in the Montjuïc cemetery. The historic collection contains 13 vehicles, some of them belonging to the 19th century.
The two most popular vehicles are ‘The Stove’, that was designed for the most illustrious residents of the city, and ‘The Black Widow’, that was meant to carry the family members of the deceased.
You can find 12 abandoned Metro Stations
If you are the adventurous kind and like to visit spooky destinations, you will love Barcelona. The city has 12 abandoned metro stations that are believed to be haunted. A modification in the city’s layout led to these metro stations losing importance, leading to their abandonment.
Some of these stations are:
- Gaudí station
- Ferran Station
- Bank Station
- Post Office Station
- Travessera Station
- Banco Station
- Correos Station
You can find 9 UNESCO Heritage Sites in Barcelona
Out of the 9 UNESCO heritage sites in the city, 7 are the work of the Catalan architect Gaudi. They are:
- Parc Güell
- Casa Milà (aka La Pedrera)
- Palau Güell
- Casa Vicens (the first building ever designed by Gaudi)
- La Sagrada Familia
- Cryst of the Church at Colonia Güell
- Casa Batlló
The other two in the list, both designed by Lluis Domenech I Montaner are:
- Palau de la Música Catalana
- Hospital de Sant Pau
The locals do not like flamenco and bullfighting
Flamenco and bullfighting are essential art forms in Spanish culture. In order to cater to the tourists, renowned Flamenco artists from all over Spain often perform on the streets of Barcelona. But the locals prefer performances of their own traditional dance, the Sardana.
Bullfighting, known as Corrida De Toros, is practiced widely across Spain from March to September. It has entire festivals dedicated to it. But the Catalans are not particularly fond of this violent and cruel sport. Bullfighting was banned in Barcelona in 2010.
World Book Day originated in Barcelona
April 23rd is celebrated as World Book Day. The tradition was started by the Catalans as a tribute to the patron Saint of the region, Saint George. On this day, couples and friends exchange roses and books.
UNESCO was so impressed by this idea of exchanging books that they named 23rd April as World Book Day.
Barcelona could have been home to the Eiffel Tower
Gustave Eiffel, the architect behind the famous Eiffel Tower, had initially proposed the design of the wondrous monument to Barcelona. He wanted the majestic structure to be displayed at the World Exposition of Barcelona in 1888.
The city was reluctant and feared that its residents would not approve. They saw it as an obstacle in the beautiful view of the city’s skyline. Barcelona’s loss was Paris’ gain, and the French ain’t complaining.
La Rambla is a combination of five streets
La Rambla is the most famous street in Barcelona, full of shops and cultural activities. It is a long promenade, perfect for evening strolls. But, this 2-kilometer long stretch is not one single street, but a combination of five shorter streets:
- Rambla De Canaletes, where you can find the fountain, Font De Canaletes
- Rambla De Sant Josep, where you can find a flower market on the street
- Rambla Dels Estudis, which was the location of the former Jesuit University, and now has the church of Bethlehem
- Rambla De Santa Monica, named after the arts center, St. Monica
- Rambla Dels Caputxins, which is the location of the grand Opera-house, Liceu
One of the worst traffic jams in the world is found here
According to some, Barcelona has some of the worst drivers in the world. People are rash and love breaking traffic rules. There is an estimate of around 1 accident every nineteen seconds on the streets of this crowded city.
A lot of locals prefer to ditch their cars and walk instead, fearing the high accident rates. A large number of people can be seen going about their day on foot.
Barcelona has Spain’s most walked street
Portal de l’Àngel is the most walked street in Spain. It is situated in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona. Close to 3500 people pass through this street every hour, making it the perfect place for a glimpse of the city crowds.
The street is flanked by hotels and shops on both sides. It lies adjacent to the beach Plaça Catalunya. This is the reason it is always crowded with tourists.
Christopher Columbus is honored for his first voyage
The Columbus monument in Barcelona was built in honor of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to America. It was built as part of the World Exposition in 1888. The monument was a reminder of the fact that Christopher Columbus reported to King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I when he returned.
The top of the monument consists of a statue of the explorer pointing in a certain direction. The popular belief is that he is pointing towards America, but according to the compass, he is pointing towards Constantine in Algeria. Another theory is that he is simply pointing in the direction of the sea.
Barcelona facts for kids
Kids are not always enthused by the same things as adults. While there are so many interesting facts about Barcelona, some of them are especially fun for kids.
Magic is Barcelona’s gift to the world
Magic had always been in existence through the ages. The practice of witchcraft was prevalent across many ancient towns and cities. In fact, Barcelona was the first city to make it official as an art form.
In 1881, the city launched the world’s first Museum of Magic, as well as a magic shop. They generated curiosity and interest among people and helped the art gain popularity throughout the world.
Barcelona has the largest supercomputer in Southern Europe
Barcelona boasts one of the most powerful computers in Southern Europe. This supercomputer is located at the Barcelona Supercomputer Center, in the Polytechnic University Of Barcelona. It has been around since 2005.
The main machine is called MareNostrum and it weighs around 40,000 kilograms. Its space requirement equals half a basketball court.
Barcelona is a leading city in the fields of tourism, commerce, trade, and culture. It is one of the most successful cities in Europe. Tourism has also increased significantly over the years in this historic city.
The fun and interesting lesser-known facts make it extremely intriguing and a must-visit on the list of places to see.
The charming city has an identity of its own. With its own language and its own traditions, it is wonderfully unique. An insight into the culture of the country is incomplete without a trip to ‘Barça’. With a plethora of places to see and activities to engage in, this town has something in store for everyone.