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Facts About Barcelona

BarcelonaBarcelona is the second largest city in Spain, with a population of a little more than a million and a half, and is considered the fourth-most-visited in all of Europe. Millions of tourists flock to this beautiful city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea each year. Barcelona boasts a rather mild climate, including humid winters and warm, dry summers.

No one knows exactly how this historic city had its beginning. Legends attribute its founding from the mythical Hercules to the historical Carthaginian commander, Hamilcar Barca. Through the ages, the city that would come to be called Barcelona was controlled by Romans originally naming it Barcino. Later, Visigoths called the city Barchinona, while Muslims renamed it Barshiluna. It wasn't until the region was taken over by Spanish forces that the more permanent name of Barcelona was installed.

Great attractions include its modern architecture, like Antoni Gaudi's masterpieces: La Sagrada Famillia (a Catholic church and the international symbol of the city), Casa Vicens (a family residence), and Park Guelle (a garden complex). Several of Gaudi's creations have been declared World Heritage Sites, along with other breathtaking constructions such as: Palau de la Musica Catalana (a concert hall) and the Hospital de Sant Pau (a hospital).

Barri Gotic, or the Gothic Quarter, is filled with magnificent medieval architecture, dating back to the 19th century. This attraction includes many landmarks, like Portal de l'Angel, which is the most walked down street in the entire country and Placa Sant Jaume, which includes Barcelona's city hall. Such architectural richness does not go undetected. The Royal Institute of British Architects awarded the city of Barcelona with the Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 1999. It was the first and only time the award had been presented to a city instead of a single architect.

La Rambla street is often referred to as the heart of Barcelona. For two kilometers, tens of thousands of tourists each year enjoy lovely sights such as street artists, shops, marketplaces, restaurants, and mosaic artwork. Interestingly, it is often referred to as Las Ramblas, because it originally consisted of five streets that were joined together to make one long boulevard.

Barcelona has recently been applauded for its beaches. In 1992, after the Olympic Games, the coast line of Barcelona was transformed to include more tourists destinations, including hotels and beaches. Some of these beaches have even been named the best in the world.

Walking is preferred in Barcelona, mostly because of the alarming traffic statistics about the city. Vehicle accidents occur very frequently, making Barcelona one of the most dangerous city for drivers. Therefore, walking is often the best and safest solution, which also explains the constantly crowded sidewalks of the city.