Barcelona is the capital city of theautonomous community of Catalonia in Spain and the country's 2nd largest city, with a population of 1.6 million within its administrative limits. Its urban area extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of around 4.5 million people, being the sixth-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. About five million people live in the Barcelona metropolitan area. It is the largest metropolis on theMediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres (1,680 ft) high.
Founded as a Roman city, in the Middle Ages Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination. Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympicsas well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.
Barcelona is one of the world's leading tourist, economic, trade fair and cultural centres, and its influence in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. It is a major cultural and economic centre in southwestern Europe, 24th in the world (before Zürich, after Frankfurt) and a financial centre. In 2008 it was the fourth most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world with GDP amounting to €177 billion. In 2012 Barcelona had a GDP of $170 billion; it is leading Spain on both employment and GDP per capita change. In 2009 the city was ranked Europe's third and one of the world's most successful as a city brand. In the same year the city was ranked Europe's fourth best city for business and fastest improving European city, with growth improved by 17% per year, but it has since been in a full recession with declines in both employment and GDP per capita, with some recent signs of the beginning of an economic recovery. Barcelona is a transport hub with the Port of Barcelona being one of Europe's principal seaports and busiest European passenger port, an international airport,Barcelona–El Prat Airport, which handles above 35 million passengers per year, an extensive motorway network and a high-speed rail line with a link to France and the rest of Europe.
Central business district, Sagrada Família, Camp Nou stadium, The Castle of the Three Dragons, Palau Nacional,W Barcelona hotel and beach
|Nickname(s):Ciudad Condal (es) / Ciutat Comtal (ca)
"City of Counts"
The Barri Gòtic (Catalan for "Gothic Quarter") is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. Many of the buildings date from medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. Catalan modernista architecture (related to the movement known as Art Nouveau in the rest of Europe), developed between 1885 and 1950 and left an important legacy in Barcelona. Several of these buildings are World Heritage Sites. Especially remarkable is the work of architect Antoni Gaudí, which can be seen throughout the city. His best-known work is the immense but still unfinished church of the Sagrada Família, which has been under construction since 1882, and is still financed by private donations. As of 2007, completion is planned for 2026.
Barcelona was also home to Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion. Designed in 1929 for the International Exposition for Germany, it is an iconic building that came to symbolize modern architecture as the embodiment of van der Rohe's aphorisms "less is more" and "God is in the details." The Barcelona pavilion was intended as a temporary structure, and was torn down in 1930 less than a year after it was constructed. A modern re-creation by Spanish architects now stands in Barcelona, however, constructed in 1986.
Barcelona contains sixty-eight municipal parks, of which twelve are historic parks, five are thematic (botanical) parks, forty-five are urban parks and six are forest parks. They range from vest-pocket parks to large recreation areas. The urban parks alone cover 10% of the city (549.7 ha or 1,358.3 acres). The total park surface grows about 10 ha (25 acres) per year, with a proportion of 18.1 square metres (195 sq ft) of park area per inhabitant.
Of Barcelona's parks, Montjuïc is the largest, with 203 ha located on the mountain of the same name. It is followed by Parc de la Ciutadella (which occupies the site of the old military citadel and which houses the Parliament building, the Barcelona Zoo and several museums); 31 ha or 76.6 acres including the zoo), the Guinardó Park (19 ha or 47.0 acres), Park Güell (designed by Antoni Gaudí; 17.2 ha or 42.5 acres), Oreneta Castle Park (also 17.2 ha or 42.5 acres), Diagonal Mar Park (13.3 ha or 32.9 acres, inaugurated in 2002), Nou Barris Central Park (Parc de Nou Barris) (13.2 ha or 32.6 acres), Can Dragó Sports Park and Poblenou Park (both 11.9 ha or 29.4 acres), the Labyrinth Park (9.10 ha or 22.5 acres), named after the garden maze it contains. There are also several smaller parks, for example, the Parc de les Aigües (2 ha or 4.9 acres). A part of the Collserolla Park is also within the city limits.PortAventura, one of the largest amusement parks in Europe with 3,000,000 visitors per year, is located one hour's drive from Barcelona. Also, within the city lies Tibidabo Amusement Park, a smaller amusement park, with the Muntanya Russa amusement ride.
Barcelona beach was listed as number one in a list of the top ten city beaches in the world according toNational Geographic and Discovery Channel. Barcelona contains seven beaches, totalling 4.5 kilometres (3 miles) (2.8 mi) of coastline. Sant Sebastià, Barceloneta and Somorrostro beaches, both 1,100 m (3,610 ft) in length, are the largest, oldest and the most-frequented beaches in Barcelona. The Olympic Harbour separates them from the other city beaches: Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant. These beaches (ranging from 400 to 640 m/1,300 to 2,100 ft) were opened as a result of the city restructuring to host the 1992 Summer Olympics, when a great number of industrial buildings were demolished. At present, the beach sand is artificially replenished given that storms regularly remove large quantities of material. The 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures left the city a large concrete bathing zone on the eastmost part of the city's coastline.