Set between the mountains and the sea, Barcelona is one of the most exciting cities on the Western Mediterranean coast, a city with a zest for life and artistic genius. Its distinctive districts bear witness to the city’s expansion over the centuries: the maze of narrow streets in the Old Town, the 18th century fishing village of Barceloneta, the Modernista buildings of the Eixample district and the 1992 Olympic Games developments projects in Montjuic and on the waterfront all tell the story of a city rich in history, yet boldly modern.
Barcelona is the second Spanish city after its old rival, Madrid and the capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. It is home to the seat of the Catalan government, the Generalitat de Catalunya. The Catalans are fiercely proud of their cultural identity. Barcelona is a bilingual city where all official signs and documents are in Castilian Spanish and Catalan.
Barcelona’s cultural heritage is impressive. It is one of Europe’s great Gothic treasure houses and is home to over 55 museums. Two of the greatest 20th century artists, Picasso and Miró, lived and worked in the city, but it is best known for the work of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi whose Sagrada Familia has become Barcelona’s most emblematic building. The Eixample district counts many of the best Modernista buildings by Gaudi, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, several of which are now listed as World Heritage sites.
Modern Barcelona is Spain’s largest port, and main commercial and industrial centre thanks to its strategic location, on the Mediterranean Sea and near the border with France. It is a dynamic city where people work hard and play hard. Barcelona’s nightlife is vibrant, and locals and visitors alike enjoy the many bars, cafés, restaurants and clubs well into the small hours. In the summer months the city give itself over to fiestas. Add to this one of Spain’s best cuisine and the fine Penedès wines and it is hardly surprising that Barcelona ranks as one of the top destinations in Europe.
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