Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia, is a cosmopolitan Mediterranean city that combines its urban street pattern Roman remains with medieval districts, lovely beaches and the most beautiful examples of Modernism and 20th century avant-garde art. It also has the privilege to overlook the sea and count with emblematic buildings of Catalan architects Antoni Gaudí and Luis Doménech i Montaner declared to be World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Of Roman origin, Barcelona's long history and economic dynamism have provided it with an impressive cultural heritage, shown in the conservation of its rich historic and artistic heritage and in the encouragement of the newest artistic trends. Its long cultural agenda will lead the visitor through museums, exhibitions, outdoor sculptures and an extensive calendar of music, theatre, and dance.
Tradition and modernity are also responsible for shaping its innovative and imaginative cuisine, which is based on organically grown produce, fresh fish, rice, vegetables and olive oil. Home-made pastries and sparkling wines will round off a merely superficial approach to Barcelona's culinary culture.
Barcelona will surprise you at every step. Pedestrian streets in the old districts, green spaces, and a splendid waterfront filled with modern structures all reflect the city's aim of integration. Its exceptional communications network, its Mediterranean climate and its great number of tourist attractions make of Barcelona an important business city. Business facilities, as well as conference and exhibition centres, can accommodate the widest variety of initiatives.
The visitor, whether on business or pleasure, will enjoy Barcelona's Mediterranean character, which can be clearly felt on the Costa del Garraf as well as the Maresme coast. In addition, the city has beautiful urban beaches, marinas, and seafront golf courses. Nature lovers will not need to travel far to be able to hike through the hills that are part of the coastal mountain range and the Catalan Pyrenees.
Barcelona overlooks the sea, and it has a waterfront that encompasses many different artistic styles. Les Drassanes, formerly a dockyard and now home to the Maritime Museum, and the Llotja del Mar are part of the medieval port facilities. Arcaded houses lead to the Ciutadella Park, the Olympic Village and the Port Olímpic. Beaches, piers, an impressive array of museums and leisure centres make Barcelona's seaport a cosmopolitan place full of life.
Its early city centre was surrounded by walls during Roman times. It is today is the Gothic Quarter with narrow streets, quiet squares and attractive corners. Surrounding Barcelona's impressive Cathedral, medieval palaces emerge such as Casa dels Canonges and Casa d´Ardiaca. The Plaça del Rei brings together another labyrinth of marvellous buildings, such as the Palau Reial Mayor, the Chapel of Santa Ágata, and the City History Museum. The Plaça Sant Jaume holds the Palau de la Generalitat (headquarters of the Catalan government) and the City Hall, or Casa de la Ciutat. We must not forget the church of La Mercè, patron saint of Barcelona.
Next to the Gothic Quarter, the Ribera district, also of Medieval origin, begins. In its origins, it brought together traders and seagoing people, but with the passage of time many magnificent, small palaces were built as well.
The Eixample is the urban development of the central area of Barcelona. The emerging Catalonian bourgeoisie chose this place to build its mansions and palaces, following the most daring principles of Modernism. Architects such as Gaudí, Doménech i Montaner or Puig i Cadafalch relied on the help of master craftsmen to fill the streets of Barcelona with fantasy. Works by Gaudí, such as Park Güell, the Palau Güell, and Casa Milà “La Pedrera”, as well as Doménech i Montaner's Palau de la Música Catalana, and the Sant Pau Hospital have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
The temple of the Sagrada Familia (the Holy Family), and houses such as Casa Batlló are just a few of the many modernist gems treasured by the city.
One of the main arteries of the historic quarter, La Rambla, leads to the Mediterranean Sea, and it is one of the best places to catch the rhythm of the city.
Some of these modern facilities are the inheritance from the 1992 Olympics. Their mark can also be seen on the hill at Montjuïc, beside the monumental work from the 1929 World Exhibition.
Barcelona's culture is not only evident in its buildings, parks and outdoor sculptures, but also in its countless museum collections such as the Museum of the History of Catalonia, the Barcelona Centre for Contemporary Culture (CCCB) and Caixa Forum.
The museums of Barcelona, however, cover a wider variety of subjects; namely: archaeology, zoology, science, ethnology, pre-Colombian art and more. A large number of exhibition halls round off this rich and diverse cultural selection.