Whether you’re about to travel there, just got back or are simply curious about all the interesting twists and turns of the Catalan capital, I’ve got all the fun facts about Barcelona that you could possibly need.
From the secrets of Gaudí’s masterpieces to the bustling streets filled with parakeets and magical museums, Barcelona has more surprises up its sleeve than you probably expect.
Here’s a juicy teaser for you: ever wondered why the Sagrada Familia is taking longer to build than the Great Pyramids of Giza? Trust me, you’ll be amazed to see why!
So, let’s embark on this thrilling journey together, and by the end of this article, you’ll be armed with an arsenal of fun facts that’ll make you fall head over heels in love with Barcelona.
Fun facts about Barcelona
Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain
It’s no surprise that Barcelona holds the crown as the most visited city in Spain! With its magnetic charm, architectural wonders, and vibrant cultural scene, tourists from all corners of the globe flock here to soak up the Mediterranean sun and immerse themselves in the city’s unique atmosphere.
From the iconic Sagrada Familia to the bustling streets of Las Ramblas, every corner of Barcelona seems to have something special to offer. Whether you’re an art enthusiast exploring the works of Gaudí and Picasso or a foodie savoring the delicious Catalan cuisine, there are places to visit in Barcelona that cater to every taste and interest.
Barcelona’s beaches were completely redone for the 1992 Olympics
The 1992 Summer Olympics were a defining moment for Barcelona. As the host city, Barcelona underwent a dramatic transformation, and one of the most significant changes was the complete renovation of its beaches.
The city worked tirelessly to revamp its coastline, creating a pristine and welcoming beachfront for both locals and visitors to enjoy. What used to be an industrial and neglected area was transformed into a stunning stretch of golden sand, which today form Barcelona’s world famous beaches.
Today, it’s a popular spot for sunbathing, beach volleyball, water sports, and leisurely walks along the seafront promenade, the perfect place to soak in the Mediterranean vibe.
Just make sure that once you leave the beach, you keep an eye on what you shouldn’t wear in Barcelona – as did you know that it’s literally illegal to wear beachwear in the city here?
Barcelona’s equivalent to Valentine’s Day is one-of-a-kind
Have you heard about “La Diada de Sant Jordi” in Barcelona? It’s like their own version of Valentine’s Day, but with a delightful twist.
Instead of just giving flowers and chocolates, on April 23rd, people exchange books and roses. It’s a great day to experience in person, trust me.
To be clear, the women get roses and the men get books – and while I, personally, would probably prefer a book if given the choice, the combination is still pretty great!
It all goes back to a beautiful legend about a brave knight named Sant Jordi (Saint George) who saved a princess from a fearsome dragon. Legend has it that a rose bush grew from the blood of the defeated dragon, and Sant Jordi plucked a red rose for the princess.
So now, on this special day, the streets of Barcelona are adorned with book stalls and colorful blooms, and love is celebrated through the exchange of these wonderful gifts.
This Barcelona tradition inspired the creation of World Book Day
Did you know that Barcelona’s love for books and reading had such a powerful impact that it inspired the creation of World Book Day? UNESCO chose April 23rd as the official World Book and Copyright Day to honor the memory of great authors like Cervantes and Shakespeare, who both passed away on this date.
This means that not only do they celebrate Sant Jordi on this day, but it’s also a tribute to the Spanish literary icon who gifted the world with the timeless classic “Don Quixote” It’s like a double celebration of literature, love, and culture!
Worst city for pickpockets in the world
Here’s a not-so-fun fact about Barcelona: it was named by TripAdvisor travelers as the worst place in the world for pickpockets. Specifically, La Rambla was identified as the worst street for getting pickpocketed – which, honestly, aligns with my own thoughts on that part of town.
Sure, it’s somewhere you have to see as a tourist, but given the sheer amount of tourists there, the fact that pickpocketing is rife isn’t so surprising.
There’s no need to be afraid of going there, but make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and where your belongings are, while making sure nothing is hanging out of your pocket to make you an easy target.
The famous grid pattern of l’Eixample faced criticism at the time of its implementation
You know that beautiful and iconic grid pattern that defines the district of l’Eixample in Barcelona? Well, believe it or not, when it was first designed and implemented in the 19th century, it faced quite a bit of criticism.
Can you imagine that? Well, it’s true, as back in the day, the grid plan was seen as controversial and innovative, as it was a departure from the narrow, winding streets of the old city.
But visionary urban planner Ildefons Cerdà had a grand vision for a modern, spacious, and organized neighborhood, and his plan ultimately revolutionized urban design. Today, l’Eixample stands as a testament to his genius and is one of the most sought-after areas to live and explore in Barcelona.
Barcelona has 12 abandoned underground stations
Beneath the bustling streets of Barcelona, there are 12 abandoned underground stations. They were part of a metro line that was supposed to connect the city in a grand way, but due to various reasons, the construction was halted, and these stations were left in a state of eerie abandonment.
Exploring these hidden and mysterious places has become quite a thrilling adventure for urban explorers and history enthusiasts. While some of the stations are closed off, you can still find remnants of their existence in the current metro lines.
It’s like a secret world lurking beneath the surface, waiting for those curious enough to seek it out.
Barcelona has more than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants
Calling all foodies! If you thought Barcelona was all about Gaudi and beaches, think again.
This vibrant city is a true paradise for gastronomy lovers, boasting over 20 Michelin-starred restaurants. From the traditional Catalan cuisine to innovative and fusion dishes, your taste buds are in for a treat!
Whether you’re craving delectable seafood, tantalizing tapas, or indulgent desserts, these Michelin-starred eateries have got you covered. Don’t forget to bring your appetite along when you visit Barcelona because it’s not just a feast for the eyes but an unforgettable culinary journey too!
There are numerous air raid shelters scattered across Barcelona
You might not guess it at first glance, but Barcelona holds a fascinating piece of history from the Spanish Civil War. During that tumultuous time, the city built more than 1,000 air raid shelters to protect its citizens from aerial bombardments.
These shelters, scattered across the city, served as a lifeline for the people during those difficult years. Today, some of these shelters are open to the public as museums, offering a glimpse into the past and a chance to understand the hardships endured by the locals.
It’s incredible how these structures have been preserved, standing as a reminder of Barcelona’s resilience and determination.
The world’s first beach ice bar can be found in Barcelona
Ready to chill out in a unique way? Barcelona takes cool to a whole new level with its beach ice bar, the world’s first of its kind!
Located right on the sandy shores, this bar lets you enjoy your favorite drinks in a frosty wonderland even during the hottest summer days. It’s like a winter paradise on the beach!
Step inside and you’ll be greeted by a surreal setting of ice sculptures and frozen decorations. The entire bar, including the glasses, is made of ice, so get ready to bundle up in cozy coats and gloves provided by the bar.
After his first voyage to the Americas, Christopher Columbus met the Spanish king and queen in Barcelona
You probably learned about Christopher Columbus and his voyages in school, but did you know that after his first journey to the Americas in 1492, he made a grand return to Spain?
And guess where he headed? Yep, you got it – to the beautiful city of Barcelona!
Columbus arrived in Barcelona with great fanfare and was received by none other than King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, the Spanish monarchs. They celebrated his successful expedition and the discovery of new lands, making Barcelona a pivotal moment in the history of exploration and the beginning of a new era.
In fact, you can actually go to the exact spot that historians say the monarchs greeted Columbus, which is on the steps that exist to this day at Plaça del Rei, or King’s Square.
Barcelona and Catalonia have some of the world’s weirdest Christmas traditions
The holidays in Barcelona are anything but ordinary! While the rest of the world might have their typical Santa Claus and stockings, they have their own peculiar Christmas characters – the caganer and caga tio!
Trust me, you won’t find these in any other part of the world. The caganer is a little figurine depicted as…well, doing his business in the nativity scene.
It’s believed to bring good luck and fertility to the land. Although some say it’s as simple as the fact that, well, the Three Wise Men took a while to appear and when you gotta go, you gotta go!
Because of this, if you visit Barcelona at Christmas, you’ll find the Christmas markets full of caganers. Some look like the traditional little man with a white shirt and red cap, but you can also find rows and rows of caganers modeled after basically any famous person you can think of.
And then there’s the caga tio, a festive log adorned with a cute face and a little red hat. But here’s the kicker – on Christmas Day, kids “beat” the log with sticks while singing traditional songs, and it “poops” out small gifts and candies.
It’s an absolutely hilarious, if not very strange, tradition loved by everyone, young and old!
Barcelona is the largest city on the Mediterranean
The majestic Mediterranean Sea hugging the shores of Barcelona is truly a sight to behold! And guess what? Barcelona proudly boasts the title of being the largest city on the Mediterranean coast.
With its golden beaches, stunning sunsets, and a vibrant coastal atmosphere, it’s no wonder why Barcelona is such a beloved destination for travelers from all around the globe.
Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll along the famous La Barceloneta beach, trying out water sports, or savoring delicious seafood by the sea, Barcelona’s Mediterranean charm will leave you with incredible memories of your time here.
Barcelona used to be a Muslim region
Step back in time, and you’ll discover a captivating chapter in Barcelona’s history – its days as a Muslim region. During the early Middle Ages, Barcelona was under the rule of the Moors, who brought their rich culture, architecture, and art to the city.
You can still find traces of this fascinating past in the ancient walls and remnants of the Arab baths. In addition, the influence of the Islamic era can also be seen in the design of some of Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks, like the intricate details in the architecture of the Gothic Quarter.
It’s a remarkable reminder of the city’s diverse heritage and the layers of history that make Barcelona such a fascinating place to explore.
The native dance of Barcelona is the sardana
Want to experience the true essence of Catalan culture? Look no further than the sardana, the native dance of Barcelona.
This traditional dance is a heartwarming display of community and togetherness. Locals and visitors alike gather in a circle, holding hands, and gracefully dance to the sounds of a cobla, a traditional Catalan band.
The sardana is more than just a dance; it’s a symbol of unity and pride for the people of Barcelona and Catalonia. You’ll often witness this beautiful spectacle in front of historical landmarks like the Barcelona Cathedral or in picturesque squares, as it’s an integral part of local festivals and celebrations.
Gaudí is buried in the Sagrada Familia
Barcelona is synonymous with the genius architect Antoni Gaudí, and his magnum opus, the Sagrada Familia, is an awe-inspiring masterpiece that draws millions of visitors each year. But here’s a lesser-known fact – Gaudí himself is buried within this iconic basilica.
After Gaudí’s tragic death in 1926, he was laid to rest in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia, a place he dedicated much of his life to. Visiting his tomb adds an extra layer of reverence when exploring the extraordinary basilica and experiencing the genius of this visionary architect.
The Catalan castellers tradition thrives in Barcelona
Prepare to be amazed by one of the most awe-inspiring traditions of Catalonia – the castellers. These human towers are a true testament to teamwork, strength, and Catalan pride.
Participants, called “castellers,” create towering human structures by standing on each other’s shoulders, forming impressive multi-level human pyramids. It ends with a young child climbing to the very top of the tower – who at least these days is made to wear a helmet, even if no one else involved has to!
Witnessing a castell performance is a heart-pounding experience. The tension in the air as they build the tower, and the euphoria when it stands tall and steady, is simply exhilarating.
This unique tradition is a living example of Barcelona’s rich cultural heritage and community spirit, and you can catch these incredible displays at local festivals and special events throughout the city.
Barcelona was once an independent entity separate from Spain
Long before it became the bustling metropolis it is today, Barcelona was its own independent entity, known as the Principality of Catalonia. For centuries, the region enjoyed a distinct identity, language (Catalan), and governance, even as part of larger political entities like the Crown of Aragon and later Spain.
The spirit of Catalan identity remains strong to this day, and you’ll see the iconic yellow-and-red Catalan flag flying proudly across the city. Barcelona’s unique history and proud identity are woven into its streets, architecture, and festivals, making it a place like no other in Spain.
There are 68 parks scattered throughout Barcelona
For a bustling city, Barcelona sure knows how to embrace nature! Believe it or not, there are a whopping 68 parks scattered across the city, offering lush green spaces and a breath of fresh air for locals and visitors alike.
One of the most beloved parks is Parc de la Ciutadella, a picturesque oasis in the heart of the city, boasting serene lakes, palm trees, and even a grand fountain designed by none other than…you guessed it, Antoni Gaudí!
So, if you ever need a moment of tranquility amid the urban buzz, Barcelona’s parks are the perfect escape.
Barcelona was a potential location for the Eiffel Tower
Here’s a fascinating historical “what if”: Barcelona was actually considered as a potential location for the iconic Eiffel Tower!
Yep, you heard that right! Before the famous tower found its home in Paris, the Barcelona city officials rejected Gustave Eiffel’s proposal to build it here, believing it would not fit into the city’s aesthetics.
While the Eiffel Tower went on to become the symbol of Paris, Barcelona has its own array of architectural marvels, including Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, which stands tall as an iconic symbol of our city’s creativity and visionary architecture.
The Sagrada Familia isn’t actually a cathedral
Wait, what? Despite its name, the Sagrada Familia isn’t technically a cathedral!
While it’s often referred to as one, it lacks an important component – it’s not the seat of a bishop. However, it does hold the title of a minor basilica, a special designation bestowed by the Pope in recognition of its religious significance and exceptional architecture.
This doesn’t diminish the grandeur and splendor of the Sagrada Familia in any way. Gaudí poured his heart and soul into this magnificent basilica, and even though it’s still under construction, its stunning beauty and symbolic significance have earned it a place among the most extraordinary landmarks in the world.
Bullfighting is illegal
If you’re an animal lover, you’ll be pleased to know that Barcelona has a compassionate side too! Bullfighting is, in fact, illegal in Catalonia, the region where Barcelona is located.
In 2010, the Catalan Parliament passed a law banning this controversial tradition, putting an end to bullfights and other related events.
Instead, you’ll find the city embracing other cultural events and festivities that celebrate its rich heritage without causing harm to animals. From vibrant festivals and colorful parades, there’s no shortage of ways to experience the local culture without sacrificing animal welfare.
Only city in the world awarded a Royal Gold Medal for architecture by Royal Institute of British Architects
Barcelona’s architectural prowess knows no bounds, and here’s proof: It’s the only city in the world to have been awarded the prestigious Royal Gold Medal for architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
And not once, but twice! The first time was in 1999, honoring the city’s impressive architectural legacy and its impact on the world of design.
With groundbreaking architects like Gaudí, Montaner, and Puig i Cadafalch, Barcelona has left an indelible mark on the world of architecture. From the whimsical curves of the Sagrada Familia to the elegant arches of the Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona’s architectural wonders continue to inspire and amaze visitors from every corner of the globe.
Barcelona was the first city in the world to achieve the “Biosphere World Class Destination” certification
Sustainability and responsible tourism are of utmost importance to Barcelona, and it became the pioneer in earning the “Biosphere World Class Destination” certification. This prestigious recognition was awarded to the city for its efforts in promoting sustainable practices, preserving its cultural heritage, and fostering a harmonious relationship between tourists and the local environment.
Barcelona’s commitment to protecting its natural and cultural assets is evident in various eco-friendly initiatives, green spaces, and efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of tourism. This means that when you visit this vibrant city, you can feel good about supporting a destination that truly cares about its future and the well-being of both its residents and visitors.
Barcelona played a significant role in determining the meter measurement
Next time you whip out a measuring tape, remember that Barcelona played a crucial role in determining the meter measurement we use today! The standard meter was originally defined in terms of the Earth’s dimensions and was later redefined based on a physical prototype.
And guess where this prototype was created? Yep, right here in Barcelona!
The Meridian of Barcelona, a line running through the city’s famous Plaça del Rei, was one of the key reference points used in the redefinition of the meter. This historic site holds immense significance in the field of metrology and stands as a reminder of Barcelona’s contributions to science and global standards.
The tiles along Passeig de Gràcia are Gaudí’s original design
Strolling along Passeig de Gràcia, you’ll be captivated not just by the luxurious shops and stunning architecture but also by the beautiful tiles under your feet. These eye-catching mosaic tiles are Gaudí’s original design, part of the stunning modernist benches located in the heart of the city.
The vibrant patterns and colors of the tiles mirror the playful and artistic spirit of Gaudí’s designs found throughout Barcelona. Make sure that, when you walk along Passeig de Gràcia, take a moment to appreciate the small but significant details that make this city a living work of art.
Paella isn’t from Barcelona
Ah, paella! A delicious and iconic Spanish dish loved by people all around the world, including thousands of visitors to Barcelona every year.
But here’s the thing – paella isn’t originally from Barcelona or even Catalonia. It hails from the coastal regions of Valencia, where it has a long and cherished history.
Valencians take great pride in their paella, and you’ll find countless variations of this scrumptious rice dish, featuring fresh seafood, succulent meats, and a delightful blend of spices. While you can certainly find paella in Barcelona due to its popularity, for an authentic taste, I’d highly recommend heading to Valencia, where it all began!
Crème brûlée is from Catalonia, not France
Time to set the record straight – crème brûlée is actually a delectable dessert from Catalonia, not France! Known locally as “crema catalana,” this creamy delight has been delighting taste buds in this region for centuries.
Just like its French counterpart, crema catalana features a luscious custard base topped with a layer of caramelized sugar. It’s usually flavored with cinnamon and lemon zest (slightly different from its French cousin which tends to be flavored with vanilla), giving it a unique and delightful twist.
And sure, while creme brulee may be more known worldwide, the first known recipe for crema catalana actually appeared in Catalan cookbooks in the 14th century – three centuries before recipes for the French crème brûlée.
When you’re in Barcelona, don’t miss the chance to savor this Catalan classic; it’s an absolute must-try!
Barcelona boasts 55 museums
Calling all art and culture enthusiasts! Barcelona is an absolute paradise for museum lovers, with a staggering total of 55 museums scattered throughout the city.
From world-renowned art museums like the Picasso Museum and the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) to quirky and specialized ones like the Chocolate Museum and the Museum of Illusions, there’s something for every interest and age.
Whether you’re captivated by modern art, fascinated by history, or curious about science, Barcelona’s museums offer something for everyone.
Barcelona has 9 UNESCO-protected monuments
Barcelona’s architectural wonders have garnered international recognition, and it’s no surprise that the city is home to not one, not two, but nine UNESCO-protected monuments!
These extraordinary sites, including the stunning Palau de la Música Catalana and the mesmerizing Park Güell, have been designated as World Heritage Sites due to their exceptional cultural and historical value.
Each UNESCO-protected monument in Barcelona is a true gem, showcasing the city’s rich heritage and the brilliance of architects like Gaudí and Montaner. Give yourself enough time to explore these masterpieces, as they offer a glimpse into the city’s creative past and enduring legacy.
Computers helped speed up the Sagrada Familia’s construction
The construction of the Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s magnum opus, has been a true labor of love that’s spanned over a century. But did you know that computers played a crucial role in speeding up the process in recent years?
In the 21st century, advanced technology and computer-aided design (CAD) techniques have been employed to analyze the structure, plan construction phases, and create precise models.
Thanks to these modern tools, the intricate and complex designs of the Sagrada Familia could be realized more efficiently, accelerating the construction process. While the basilica is still a work in progress, the use of cutting-edge technology has brought us closer to fulfilling Gaudí’s visionary dream for this extraordinary masterpiece.
Concerns were raised about Casa Mila’s unusual appearance devaluing the area
Believe it or not, when Gaudí designed Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, it caused quite a stir among the locals! Some people were skeptical about its unconventional appearance and feared that it might devalue the prestigious neighborhood of Passeig de Gràcia.
Safe to say, time has definitely proven them wrong! Today, Casa Mila stands as one of Barcelona’s most iconic and beloved landmarks.
Its undulating facade, wrought-iron balconies, and rooftop chimneys have become symbols of Gaudí’s genius and the city’s avant-garde architecture. Instead of detracting from the area, this architectural gem has become a major draw for tourists and architecture enthusiasts, enhancing the neighborhood’s allure and cultural significance.
Gaudí was 30 when he started working on the Sagrada Familia
Can you imagine embarking on the creation of one of the world’s most ambitious architectural projects at the age of 30? Well, that’s precisely what Gaudí did!
In 1883, he took over the construction of the Sagrada Familia, and it became his life’s work and legacy.
For over 40 years, Gaudí dedicated himself to this monumental basilica, pouring his heart, soul, and creativity into every detail. Despite his untimely death in 1926, his vision lives on in the ongoing construction of the Sagrada Familia, which continues to captivate the world with its beauty and innovation.
The original architect of the Sagrada Familia wasn’t Gaudí
Wait, what? Although Gaudí is synonymous with the Sagrada Familia, he wasn’t actually the original architect!
The basilica’s construction began in 1882 under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, but he resigned from the project a year later. That’s when Gaudí took over and transformed the design into his own visionary masterpiece.
Gaudí’s unique architectural style and innovative ideas infused the Sagrada Familia with a creative energy that was unlike anything seen before.
One of the most LGBTQI+ friendly cities in Europe
Barcelona embraces diversity and has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the most LGBTQI+ friendly cities in Europe. The local community and the city’s government have worked tirelessly to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
The vibrant LGBT scene in Barcelona includes lively nightlife, numerous gay-friendly bars and clubs, and a variety of events and festivals celebrating the community’s pride and diversity.
From the lively Eixample district, known for its LGBT hotspots, to the annual Barcelona Pride Parade, the city celebrates love and acceptance with open arms.
Barcelona is among the world’s major cities where smoking cannabis is legal
If you’re a cannabis enthusiast, you’ll be pleased to know that Barcelona is one of the world’s major cities where smoking cannabis is legal in private spaces. While public consumption isn’t permitted, private cannabis clubs provide a legal and regulated setting for enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite herb.
These clubs operate under specific regulations, requiring membership and adherence to guidelines, making them safe and controlled environments for cannabis enthusiasts to socialize and consume.
So if you’re interested in exploring Barcelona’s cannabis culture, be sure to check out one of these unique clubs.
It’s home to one of Europe’s most powerful supercomputers
Barcelona proudly hosts the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), which houses one of Europe’s most powerful supercomputers. Known as MareNostrum, this impressive machine is a powerhouse of computation, contributing to cutting-edge research in various fields, including climate modeling, astrophysics, and genomics.
MareNostrum’s processing capabilities are awe-inspiring, and it ranks among the top supercomputers in the world. Its computational prowess underscores Barcelona’s dedication to scientific advancement and innovation, making it a hub for researchers and tech enthusiasts alike.
Barcelona was once Spain’s capital city
Barcelona holds a fascinating historical role as the capital of Revolutionary Catalonia during the Spanish Revolution of 1936. It also became the seat of government for the Second Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War, until its capture by the fascists in 1939.
During this tumultuous period, Barcelona played a pivotal role in the struggle for democracy and freedom, becoming a stronghold for the Republican forces fighting against the fascist regime. The city’s streets were witness to intense political and social upheaval as various factions vied for control.
Despite its eventual capture by the fascists, the spirit of resistance and the memory of Barcelona’s role in the fight for liberty remain alive in the city’s collective consciousness.
It has the largest metropolitan park in the world
Barcelona’s green spaces are as enchanting as its architecture, and none more so than the Parc de Collserola, the largest metropolitan park in the world. Located in the hills that surround the city, this vast natural reserve offers breathtaking panoramic views and a refreshing escape from the urban hustle.
Collserola Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with countless hiking and biking trails, charming picnic spots, and lush forests to explore. The park’s biodiversity and beauty are a testament to Barcelona’s commitment to preserving nature and ensuring a harmonious balance between the city and the natural world.
In Barcelona, you can find one of the world’s oldest shops and museums specializing in magic
If you’re intrigued by the world of magic and wonder, Barcelona has a hidden gem just for you! In the heart of the city, you can find El Rei de la Màgia, one of the world’s oldest shops and museums dedicated to all things magical.
With a history dating back to 1881, this enchanting place offers a fascinating collection of tricks, illusions, and magical artifacts. And stepping into El Rei de la Màgia is like entering a world of mystery and amazement.
From classic magic props to rare vintage pieces, the shop is a treasure trove for both professional magicians and curious enthusiasts. If you want to experience the wonder of magic, make sure to pay a visit to this extraordinary establishment.
The construction of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has taken longer than the Great Pyramids of Giza
Believe it or not, the ongoing construction of the Sagrada Familia has indeed taken longer than the construction of the Great Pyramids of Giza! Since its inception in 1882, the basilica has been a work in progress, and even to this day, it continues to evolve and be shaped by various architects and craftsmen.
The immense scale and intricate design of the Sagrada Familia have made its construction a truly epic endeavor. While the Great Pyramids were built over several decades, the completion of the Sagrada Familia is expected to take even longer.
It’s a testament to Gaudí’s ambitious vision and the dedication of those who have worked tirelessly to bring it to life.
Some say that it’s older than Rome
Barcelona’s history is rich and varied, and some legends even claim that it’s older than Rome itself! According to ancient myths, the city was founded by the mythical Hercules, making it one of the oldest settlements in Europe.
While historical records may not confirm this myth, Barcelona’s origins do trace back to Roman times. The Romans established a settlement called “Barcino” in the 1st century BC, and you can still find remnants of this ancient Roman city in the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) of Barcelona.
This means that while it’s up to you whether or not to believe that the city is older than Rome, its history definitely stretches back millennia.
Barcelona gets its current name from its first name, “Barcino”
Ever wondered how Barcelona got its name? Well, the city’s current name is indeed derived from its ancient Roman predecessor, “Barcino.”
As the Romans established their settlement here, they named it after the Barcino family, who played a significant role in its founding.
Over the centuries, the name evolved from Barcino to Barcilonum, and eventually, “Barcelona” became the name we know today. The modern-day city still proudly carries the heritage and legacy of its Roman origins, intertwined with its vibrant Catalan identity.
The busiest pedestrian street in Spain can be found in Barcelona
Located in Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella (Old Town), the shopping mecca Portal de l’Àngel is not only one of the most expensive streets in Spain, but also the country’s busiest walkway, with an average of 150,000 people walking down it daily! This bustling street is a paradise for shopaholics, featuring a wide array of high-end boutiques, popular brands, and trendy stores.
Whether you’re in search of the latest fashion trends, unique souvenirs, or simply love people-watching, Portal de l’Àngel offers an unforgettable shopping experience. From the chic Plaça de Catalunya to the charming lanes of the Gothic Quarter, this vibrant street is the heartbeat of Barcelona’s shopping scene, where locals and tourists come together in a dynamic and bustling urban center.
Barcelona is home to the largest football stadium in Europe
For football fans, a pilgrimage to Camp Nou, the colossal stadium of FC Barcelona, is an absolute must! With a seating capacity of over 99,000, it proudly holds the title of the largest football stadium in Europe.
This iconic venue isn’t just a sports arena; it’s a place of passion, pride, and unforgettable football moments.
Stepping into Camp Nou, you’ll be engulfed by the electric atmosphere as fans chant and cheer for their beloved team. Whether you catch a thrilling match or take a stadium tour, this legendary stadium offers an immersive experience that will leave you in awe of the city’s football fervor.
There are two official languages in Barcelona
Barcelona is a city that celebrates its linguistic diversity, with two official languages: Spanish (Castilian) and Catalan. Catalan, the native language of Catalonia, holds a special place in the hearts of locals and is widely spoken throughout the region, alongside Spanish.
Street signs, public announcements, and official documents are often presented in both Catalan and Spanish, reflecting the city’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage. Embracing both languages adds to Barcelona’s unique identity, and you’ll find that most residents are bilingual, making it easy for visitors to communicate and feel at home.
Gaudí’s death could have been avoided
The tragic end to the life of Antoni Gaudí, the architectural genius behind some of Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks, is a poignant story. In 1926, Gaudí was struck by a tram while crossing a street near the Sagrada Familia.
Injured and disoriented, he was mistaken for a beggar by passersby, and it took some time before he received proper medical attention.
Despite being rushed to the hospital, Gaudí’s condition was critical, and he passed away a few days later. The city mourned the loss of one of its greatest visionaries, and today, Gaudí’s legacy lives on through his incredible architectural masterpieces that continue to mesmerize and inspire millions of visitors.
Barcelona has the largest and busiest cruise port in Europe
As a major Mediterranean port city, Barcelona boasts the largest and busiest cruise port in Europe. The Port of Barcelona welcomes millions of cruise passengers each year, making it a popular embarkation point for numerous cruise itineraries.
Cruise ships dock along the scenic waterfront, offering passengers breathtaking views of the city’s skyline and iconic landmarks like the Columbus Monument and the W Barcelona Hotel.
This is actually a bit controversial these days, with many people calling for the number of cruise ships stopping here to be limited in order to control the levels of tourism. But there’s no doubt that it’s a claim to fame for the city, whether welcomed or otherwise.
Over 10 percent of the city is covered by urban parks
Barcelona is a city that cherishes its green spaces, and with good reason! Over 10 percent of the city’s area is covered by urban parks, providing a breath of fresh air and an oasis of tranquility amidst the urban hustle.
From the picturesque Parc de la Ciutadella, perfect for a leisurely stroll, to the sprawling Collserola Park, offering hiking trails and panoramic views, Barcelona’s parks offer a respite from the city’s vibrant energy.
Whether you’re looking for relaxation or outdoor activities, these green havens are a cherished part of the Barcelona experience.
Barcelona is listed among the top 20 happiest cities in the world
It’s no surprise that Barcelona made it to the list of the top 20 happiest cities in the world! With its vibrant culture, sunny weather, and laid-back lifestyle, the city exudes an infectious sense of joy and contentment. Whether it’s savoring delicious tapas at a local bar, strolling along the beach, or enjoying the lively atmosphere of its streets, Barcelona has a unique charm that brings a smile to everyone’s face.
The warmth and friendliness of its residents, coupled with the rich cultural scene and a plethora of leisure activities, make Barcelona a great place to live or visit.
The most visited museum in the city is the FC Barcelona museum
Barcelona is a city with a deep passion for football, and nothing exemplifies this more than the FC Barcelona museum, the most visited museum in the city. Located inside Camp Nou, the museum offers an immersive journey through the club’s history, showcasing its iconic moments, trophies, and memorabilia.
Football fans from around the world flock to this legendary museum to walk in the footsteps of footballing legends and bask in the glory of the team’s triumphs. With interactive exhibits and a chance to explore the hallowed stadium itself, a visit to the FC Barcelona museum is a pilgrimage for every football enthusiast.
La Rambla is actually five streets
While La Rambla is often referred to as one long street, it’s actually made up of five distinct sections, each with its own unique charm and atmosphere.
Officially known as Rambla de Canaletes, Rambla dels Estudis, Rambla de Sant Josep, Rambla dels Caputxins, and Rambla de Santa Monica, these interconnected boulevards collectively form the beloved La Rambla.
Stretching for about 1.2 kilometers, La Rambla weaves through the heart of Barcelona, offering a vibrant blend of street performers, colorful markets, charming cafes, and cultural landmarks. Each section has its own stories and character, adding to the allure of this iconic pedestrian street.
Picasso studied in Barcelona
Before becoming a world-renowned artist, the legendary Pablo Picasso spent a significant part of his formative years in Barcelona. He enrolled in the prestigious School of Fine Arts (La Llotja) when he was just 14 years old, and it was during this time that he honed his artistic skills and developed the foundations of his unique style.
Barcelona’s influence on Picasso is evident in some of his early works, and the city remains deeply connected to the artist’s legacy. You can even explore Picasso’s Barcelona yourself by visiting the Picasso Museum, which houses an extensive collection of his early paintings, drawings, and sculptures, providing a fascinating glimpse into the artist’s creative evolution.
There was a plot to burn down the Sagrada Familia
As crazy as it may sound, there was indeed a sinister plot to burn down the Sagrada Familia. In 1936, during the tumultuous outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, anarchists set fire to the crypt of the basilica, causing significant damage to Gaudí’s masterpiece.
Fortunately, the Sagrada Familia was not completely destroyed, and efforts to restore and complete the basilica continued in the following decades.
The scars left by the fire serve as a reminder of the turbulent history the city endured and the enduring spirit that continues to drive the construction of this awe-inspiring architectural wonder.
One of the oldest synagogues in Europe is here
Barcelona’s historical tapestry includes a significant Jewish presence, and the city is home to one of the oldest synagogues in Europe. The Sinagoga Major de Barcelona, also known as the Ancient Synagogue of Barcelona, dates back to the 3rd or 4th century and holds a unique place in the city’s heritage.
Located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, this hidden gem offers a glimpse into the rich Jewish history of Barcelona. Despite its turbulent past, the synagogue has been preserved and stands as a testament to the city’s diverse cultural legacy.
Parakeets from South America fly around the streets
Strolling through Barcelona’s streets, you might be surprised to encounter a flock of vibrant green parakeets soaring above you! These colorful birds, known as monk parakeets, aren’t native to Spain; instead they hail from South America.
Over the years, these little parakeets have found a home in Barcelona’s urban landscape, delighting residents and visitors alike with their lively presence. You can spot them in parks, gardens, and even perched on electric wires, adding a touch of exotic charm to the city.
Park Güell was supposed to be a housing project
The enchanting Park Güell, one of Gaudí’s most celebrated creations, was originally envisioned as a housing project! The idea was conceived by Count Eusebi Güell, who commissioned Gaudí to design a residential complex that would embody the essence of modernist architecture.
While the housing project never fully materialized, the park remains an incredible work of art, featuring colorful mosaics, imaginative sculptures, and stunning panoramic views of the city. Today, Park Güell stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a beloved public park where visitors can immerse themselves in Gaudí’s fantastical world.
The patron saint of Barcelona is a 13-year-old girl
In a city with such a rich and diverse cultural heritage, it’s no surprise that the patron saint of Barcelona is quite unique. La Mercè, or Our Lady of Mercy, holds this special title, and she’s celebrated every year during the La Mercè Festival in September.
Legend has it that in the 13th century, the Virgin Mary appeared to a young shepherd girl named Oliva, who was only 13 years old. This divine encounter led to the establishment of the Virgin of Mercy as the city’s patron saint, and since then, Barcelona has honored her with fervent devotion and a joyous city-wide celebration.
Was named the best beach city in the world
Basking in the Mediterranean sun and boasting a stunning coastline, Barcelona has earned the prestigious title of the best beach city in the world. Its golden sandy beaches, such as Barceloneta, Bogatell, and Nova Icaria, beckon locals and tourists alike to relax, swim, and indulge in the vibrant beach culture.
The combination of a thriving city atmosphere with the allure of beautiful beaches makes Barcelona an exceptional destination.
Whether you’re soaking up the sun, enjoying beachside activities, or savoring a refreshing cocktail at a beach bar, the beaches of Barcelona offer a great blend of relaxation and excitement.