Barcelona General Information
Find out a little bit about our city before your visit
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous community which is officially part of Spain and located in the North-Eastern part of the country. Though Barcelona is arguably Spain’s hottest city, its native residents certainly do not consider themselves Spanish. Catalans have fought since the unifying of Spain (around 1492) for their region’s autonomy and despite a few brief successes, they have only since 1978 partially achieved it. At the end of the war in the early 1700s, Barcelona fell to the French, who banned the use of the Catalan language. This prohibition was never entirely revoked until recently. Although the Catalans succeeded in creating a local government in 1931, there was a siege on the city’s language and culture from 1939 when the famous fascist leader Franco took hold of Spain after the Spanish Civil war. Franco changed all town and street names in Catalonia to Spanish and banned all public use or teaching of Catalan. Franco’s reign lasted until his death in 1975, and in 1978, with the advent of a democratic Spanish constitution, Catalonia was able to reassert its identity. Today, Barcelona retains a combination of Spanish and local Catalan government (called the Generalitat), and boasts the highest level of self-government in Spain.
Barcelona can be hot in the summer, with an average of 29 degrees Celsius (84 F) and relatively chilly in the winter, with an average of 11 degrees Celsius (52 F). There is some rain all year long and though a seaside winter is typically mild (snow is very rare), if you arrive in January, bring a warm jacket and an umbrella.
Over four and a half million people live in Barcelona and its surrounding suburbs. It is Spain’s second largest city, its largest port, and a thriving commercial center. Tourism has skyrocketed since the 1992 Summer Olympics and naturally tourism contributes largely to the city’s prosperity. Although Barcelona contains only 4% of the country’s population, it produces over 14% of its GDP.
Though technically unified, Barcelona remains culturally, linguistically, politically, and even legislatively separate. However, due to constant immigration from Latin America and other parts of Spain, Spanish is once again leveling with Catalan. The political ‘war’ can be easily felt during a football (soccer) match between Barcelona and Madrid, but for the most part Catalans are simply continuing their quest for further autonomy from the Spanish government.
It is said that the city itself is an artists’ canvas, as the colorful curves of Gaudí architecture, the magic of medieval grandeur, and relatively recent yet awe-inspiring additions (such as the Olympic Stadium or giant golden whale sculpture by the sea) all contribute to Barcelona’s visual diversions. Barcelonians are well aware of this legacy and call Barcelona the capital of modernism. There are at least ten art museums in the city (out of over 50 museums in total) and probably six times as many art galleries, with constant art opening events and shows.
Barcelona’s nightlife starts late, but from about 11 pm the metropolis turns into one of the hottest party cities in Europe. Disco enthusiasts can rave it up into the early hours. There are also numerous bars and casinos. Music fans can enjoy the impressive range of live music, including Catalan folk music, jazz, and major rock concerts. Famous opera houses and concert halls such as El Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Palau de la Música Catalana offer classical music lovers unforgettable evenings. Tablao Cordobes is a fantastic venue to enjoy an evening of Spanish cuisine and flamenco dancing.
Other Important Information
If you need an ambulance, police or fire department – dial 112.
British Consulate General
Telephone: +34 93 366 6200
Unites States Consulate General
Telephone: +34 93 280 2227
There are several tourist information offices where you can find maps, ask questions or just get information. The main office is situated on Pl. Catalunya just across from El Corte Inglés.
Enjoy your visit to Barcelona!