An introduction to Barcelona !!

It is time to update my initial introduction to Barcelona. This was a while back and in the meantime been there several times and plenty of posts in my blog, This update will be on my black and white series, no pictures. Barcelona is very nice by the sea, different northern beach town, and lucky to have visited. As have it, it is one of the few cities in Spain where I have been by air direct and not from inside Spain. Like I said it is different yet into the microscopic blend that is old Spain. Let me tell you a bit more on it.

The city of Barcelona is the administrative and economic capital of Catalonia, and the province of Barcelona. Located on the Mediterranean coastline, it is crossed by the rivers Llobregat and Besòs and bordered to the west by the Serra de Collserola which culminates at 512 meters with the Tibidabo. It is also the city that has the largest metropolitan park in the world, Collserola Park. Having been founded by the Romans, the city became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona and then one of the major cities of the crown of Aragon.

A bit on the distribution of districts in Barcelona to maybe help you guide while walking on the city or public transports. In 1787 the first census including the annexation of Vallbona  to Barcelona takes place. In 1860, the Barceloneta was attached to the city. In 1897, Les Corts, Gràcia, Sant Andreu de Palomar, Sant Gervasi de Cassoles, Sant Martí de Provençales and Sants i Vallvidrera are attached to Barcelona. In 1904, it was the turn of Horta and finally, in 1930, Sarrià, part of which had already joined Santa Creu of Olorda. These are today many more but the main ones from a tourist point of view me think are: Ciutat Vella :  Gòtic, Barceloneta. L’Eixample : Sant Antoni, Nova Esquerra de l’Eixample, Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample ,  Dreta de l’Eixample , Sagrada Família and Fort Pienc.  Sants-Montjuïc : Poble Sec, Marina del Prat , Marina de Port , Sants, parc de Montjuïc , Les Corts, Tibidado , Gràcia , Vila de Gràcia, el Clot, El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou , La Vila Olimpica del Poblenou ,  Poblenou, Diagonal Mar i el Front Marítim del Poblenou.

The transports here are superbe! By Air (Barcelona International Airport at Prats about 15 km, but also those of Girona and Reus at about one hour), maritime (the port is one of the most important of the Mediterranean), railway (the city is connected to Madrid by a fast line AVE) and Highways (the city is connected to Madrid by AP-2 and to Valencia and France by AP-7). A network of commuter trains, Rodalies de Catalunya, composed of seven lines and operated by the RENFE . The main stations such as Barcelona Sants (main, to the west of the city) and Barcelona França (large station terminus, at the seaside). The tramway with four lanes (broken down into six lines) with a total length of 45 km, all governed by the Autoritat del Transport Metropolità (ATM). Their function is to provide service to the peripheral areas while creating connections with the metro lines. These are two independent networks: the Trambaix and the Trambesòs who are not connected as yet. The dense bus network of the TMB, the metro lines are 11 in total (including three automatic lines). Eight of them are governed by the transport Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) as well.

Some things to see and do as my favorites because the choices are endless are:

Port Vell offers a wide range of activities, whether in the field of culture, leisure or business. The Maremagnum, the Aquarium, the Museum of History of Catalonia, the Maritime Museum and the Marina Port Vell are concentrated.  The Olympic Port set up during the 1992 Summer Olympics and a host of restaurants, bars clubs etc. In 1888, Barcelona organised its first universal exhibition, which allowed the expansion of Catalan modernism, a movement that marked the city deeply and lasted until the second universal exhibition of the city in 1929, where the Noucentism took over, The Ramblas is the emblematic avenue and promenade of Barcelona connecting the Plaça de Catalunya, the nerve center of the city, to the old Port where the Christopher Columbus column stands. In the heart of the Old Town, the Barri Gòtic is the oldest district in Barcelona. It includes vestiges of Roman Barcelona such as the wall or columns of the temple of Augustus as well as many medieval buildings including the Cathedral of St. Eulalie and houses various administrative buildings of Medieval origin including the Casa de la Ciutat (City Hall) or the palace of the Generatilat of Catalonia. From the maze of alleys, Plaça Nova has two cylindrical towers dating back to Roman times or Plaça del Rei, seat of the Palau Reial Major, County and Royal residence. Also very popular, Plaça del Pi is one of the central hubs of this area stretching to the edge of the Born. The Eixample is the result of a planned extension of the city (in Catalan, eixample means “widen, enlarge”)  of houses called Maçanes, themselves interspersed by perfectly parallel streets and boulevards, with the exception of three avenues: the Meridiana, to the north whose north/south route runs along an arc of Meridian, the parallel to the south whose east/west route follows a parallel and diagonal Avinguda Diagonal  which crosses the entire city from the southwest to the northeast. There are a large number of modernist buildings, including the famous Sagrada Família, an unfinished work by Antoni Gaudí, which began more than a century ago.

The works of the three main Catalan architects are found at Passeig de Gràcia: The Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch; The Casa Batlló and La Pedrera by Antoni Gaudí; La Casa Lleó Morea de Lluís Domènech i Montaner.  This block is called La Illa de la Discòrdia or the Islet of Discord, as the greatest modernist architects competed side by side. The most famous house is nevertheless the Casa Milà by Gaudí, nicknamed La Pedrera or the quarry. The Casa Batlló, another masterpiece by Gaudí, is already a myth of art. Behind an exceptional modernist façade, representing the waves of the sea after the lull, lurks a world of surprises and a refined succession of architectural details… The Casa Batlló was built in 1904.

The Parc de la Ciutadella is the place where the Universal exhibition of 1888 was held. From that time on, there was the Arc de Triomphe by which we entered the exhibition grounds and the present Museum of Zoology, which housed a café-restaurant. The park is named because Felipe V (the representative of the Bourbons in the war of Succession from 1702 to 1717) built a citadel there by removing a neighbourhood as it was used to monitor the inhabitants and above all to avoid a certain rebellion; the Parc Güell, located on the heights of the city, was commissioned by the Count Güell to Gaudí where nature and architecture merge and complement each other in these places.

The Castell de Montjuïc dominates the city and its harbor offering a magnificent viewpoint. A gondola allows access to it. Below is the Olympic site of 1992 and, even lower, the site of the Universal Exhibition of 1929, dominated by the Palau Nacional which hosts the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC) as well as by the Font Màgica whose games of water, sound and light has welcome many tourist and locals at night. Originally fishing districts and sailors, while slums barracks occupied the beaches until the years 1960, the most important being that of the Somorrostro, at the northeast limit of the Barceloneta  bordering the old Port (port Vell) of the City. Beach with lots of action.

The culmination of the Collserola dominating the city, the Tibidabo  has also become one of the things to see in Barcelona. The Tramvia Blau (blue tram) and the funicular which make it possible to climb and the amusement park symbolised by its Avió were all inaugurated in 1901. The atoning Temple of Sagrat Cor, visible from the urban areas below and illuminated at night, was built between 1902 and 1961. The Fabra Astronomical observatory was built in 1904, making it the fourth oldest active observatory in the world.

The City of Barcelona on things to see in its districts: https://www.meet.barcelona/en/visit-and-love-it

The Barcelona tourist office : https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/

The Catalunya region tourist office : https://www.catalunya.com/what-to-do/discover

A bit of history I like

Excavations have discovered a part of the Roman city of Barcino which is exhibited at the Museum of History of the city. In December 414, Barcino was taken by the Visigoths of Athaulf from Italy. At the fall of the Roman Empire, it became the capital of the Visigothic kingdom latest at  531-548).  In 714-716, the Moors armies under the command of Mûsâ Ibn Nusayr took over the city during the first assault. They named it  Barshalûna where the present name derives,and then was part of Al-Andalus.

In 801,the Carolingians conquered the city; they transformed it into the capital of the county of Barcelona, before incorporating it into the Spanish March (Marca Hispanica). In 856, it was again occupied by the Moors. In 859, Barcelona was looted by the Vikings of Chief Hasting, who came from Nantes and had overwintered in the Camargue. Over time, the county gained some independence from the Carolingian dynasty, whose reign officially ended in the 10C. In 985, Al-Mansur, the almighty minister of the Umayyad Caliph of Cordoba, took Barcelona. Count Borrell II asks for help from his overlord of France. Neither them nor his Byzantine ally could help him, as feudal law required, the county denounced its ties of suzerainty and took a de facto independence. The Counts-Kings (later became kings of Aragon, Valencia and Majorca) had to contend with their third State. The establishment of a feudal state in Catalonia during the 11C did not only involve the county of Barcelona, which took some dominance over the other counties of the Spanish March (the frontier in the pyrénées of Caroligians and the Al Andalus ,moors created by Charlemagne in 795). During the War of Succession (1701-1714), Barcelona, like most of Catalonia, took the part of Archduke Charles against the Bourbon King , Felipe V. After the siege of 1697, the city opened to the Archduke’s army and proclaimed it king under the name of Carlos III (Hadburgs). So the Bourbons (French) are not like here anyway ,not just now…

On 14 April 1931, following the municipal elections, the candidate of the Catalan Republican Party ERC, Francesc Macià, one hour before the proclamation of the Spanish Republic, proclaimed the Catalan Republic which ultimately led to the autonomy of Catalonia. It had its constitution from 1931-1936. From 1936, Spain embraced during the Civil War where Barcelona supported the leftist Republican forces and organized the popular Olympics in 1936  to challenge the organization of the Berlin Olympics. It was severely bombarded by the Italians in March 1938 before being taken by the nationalists Franco forces in February 1939.

There you go folks, a dandy big city with all you need for a great time alone or with family ; this is Barcelona. Hope you find the introduction useful as a guide and do browze my other posts on the city, You know as I said, Spain is everything under the Sun.

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: ,

2 Comments to “An introduction to Barcelona !!”

  1. Hopefully I will soon revisit this beautiful city. Thanks for the historical reminders.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: