Barcelona, Spain 2010A settlement since at least 5000 B.C., Barcelona was documented in 15 A.D. as a Roman camp that reshaped the settlement into a colony of Rome with many small towns around the area as part of Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino. The name was then shortened to Barcino as it was fortified into a walled Roman city over a few hundred years.
In the 4th century, as part of the Roman decline, the Visigoths conquered it. Then in the 8th century, the Moors from Africa conquered the city, only to be displaced by Louis, son of the great leader Charlemagne in 801 A.D.
In 985 the city was completely sacked and emptied of people (through killing or slavery) by the southern Spanish Muslim leader Almanzor. This started the city's population anew.
It was acquired by marriage and the beginning of the consolidation of Spain by 1137.
Populated by fiercely independent people, it was the center of Catalonia which spanned into France. There were several revolts and unfortunately plagues that had overtly negative effects on the city. As Spain became more involved in the Americas, the importance of Barcelona as the primary Mediterranean port declined dramatically. The Industrial Revolution reversed the decline starkly and Barcelona thrived for a century.
As Franco was conquering Spain in the 1930s civil war, Barcelona was the seat of the Republican opposition, and the last point to fall to Fascist forces. The reprisal was fairly harsh with executions in the streets.
Home of the 1992 summer Olympics (They always seem to be at sea level cities, don't they?) , the city is still independent and to a large degree anti-Madrid. Barcelona has been and still is the site of many protests and demonstrations in recent history.
The ArrivalI flew into El Prat airport south of the city. Train service is well represented and it was easy to get to Barcelo-Sants main station. Very busy and well, full of light-fingered "entrepreneurs" and a lot of beggars of Romani descent. The begging is so over the top, it's almost worth a euro for the show they put on. Connections to the subway system are in the station also. Moving large bags is a bit challenging at some points.
I stayed at the Hilton on Avinguda Diagonal, a major road in the north of the city. This people in this area speak primarily Catalonian, not Spanish. Spanish will suffice here though.
Gothic QuarterThis is the site of the original walled Roman settlement and the medieval city. Barcelona was legally restricted from expanding its land area until the 1800s.
Ciutadella Park150 years old, created out of an old fortress complex that now includes the local Parliament, Science Institute, Zoo, fountains, statues, gardens and monuments. Easily accessible by street level trams or subways (Ciutadella Vila Olympica station), the park is an awesome place to while away most of a day - when there isn't an independence protest going on.
La RamblaA mostly walking boulevard from the central square Placa de Catalunya, to the ocean, it is the primary tourist area of Barcelona, covered in shops, performers, beggars, restaurants, markets, and more.
MontjuicThe mountain in the city, with the castle on top to protect the port, but also has many museums, gardens and great views of Barcelona.
SummaryBarcelona is a great city that feels like being at home to me. Always warm, on the Mediterranean, great international airport. Spain's second city, full of culture and leisure, it reminds me of what Paris is proclaimed to be.
The public transportation at night in certain areas can be a little... pickpockety. I met a South African family that got robbed on it, so keep your wits about you.
I love this city though. It calls to me.