Top 10 Historical Facts about Barcelona
Barcelona’s history is as interesting as the actual city itself.
It may not be the Spanish capital, but it is the metropolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region; a prominent city for the country on the global spectrum.
Like all cities in Europe, Barcelona holds some interesting historical facts to its name. It wasn’t actually even called Barcelona to begin with (what!). Read on and I’ll tell you all about it…
1. Barcelona was Originally Called Barcino
In ancient times there was no such place as Barcelona, the area was simply known as Barcino; assumed to have been named after the Carthaginian ruler Hamilcar Barca.
So how did Barcelona become Barcelona? Well legend has it that it was Hercules who gave the city it’s name.
During his nine ship expedition, he and his men were caught in a raging storm out at sea, forcing them to flee to the closet land they could find. This happened to be the coast of Barcelona (or Barcino).
They only ship to survive the wreckage was his 9th one. And thus the land was dubbed Barca Nona, which means ‘9th boat’.
2. The Barceloneta Beach is Artificial
Shock, horror… but yes it is true. Walking through Barcelona today you’ll find it very difficult to picture the city without its illusive coastline. But Barcelona actually didn’t have a single beach up until 1992, when the Olympic Games were to be held in the city.
The 4.5km stretch of once industrial coastline was quickly transformed into a beach side, using sand flown in from Egypt.
The beaches regularly make the cut of top ten in the world; as stated by National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.
3. Barcelona was Once a Muslim Region
At present, 94% of the locals in Barcelona are Roman Catholic. It was not always like this.
Back in the eighth century the Moors seized control of the city and it identified as Muslim almost in its entirety. It remained under this identity for many a century until the Roman Catholic Church eventually took over.
4. Barcelona was Once Separated from Spain
Spain is a provincially divided country, with Barcelona falling under the province of Catalonia.
Not many people are aware that the eight provinces of Spain were actually once eight separate countries: Asturias, León, Galicia, Castilla, Navarra, Aragón, Basque and Catalonia.
It is understandable then why the people of Barcelona and greater Catalonia are so staunchly proud of their identity.
5. The FC Barcelona Museum is the Most Visited Museum in the City
Forget fine art and Spanish history, the people want football.
Barcelona is world famous thanks to its successful European football team by the same name. The FC Barcelona founded its own museum in the city back in 1899; it remans the single most visited museum in the city and the third most visited museum in all of Spain.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 9:30am to 7:30pm
ADDRESS: C. d’Arístides Maillol, s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Metro STATION: Collblanc
6. There are 12 Abandoned Metro Stations in Barcelona
Somewhere between the many trains and tracks that connect the city there are 12 scattered metro stations that have not been in use for years.
In 2011 a scary metro tour was launched that would take brave passengers on an underground tour between the Lau Pau and Sagrada Familia lines. It is sworn by many that metaphysical activity can be seen and felt, particularly in the abandoned Gaudí station.
7. The Sagrada Familia Remains Incomplete
Gaudi’s last gift to the city and she is still largely incomplete. The construction of the Sagrada Familia began in 1882. That’s going on a century and a half of work on the project.
In comparison, the Great Pyramid of Giza only took 20 years from start to finish.
8. Barcelona has its Own Valentine’s Day
Unlike other cities in the world, the people of Catalonia don’t hand out roses and chocolates on the 14th of February.
Instead, they have their own day of love which usually falls on April 23rd, also known as Saint George Day. The people know it as el Día de la Rosa, or the day of the rose, and it is an official Catalonian holiday. It is traditional to celebrate by handing out roses and gifts to friends and lovers.
This day happens to be shared by Día del Libro, the day of the book. Which is an international holiday in Spain.
9. Barcelona Launched Magic in Europe (and Possibly the World)
No doubt the practice of magic was alive and well within societies long before Barcelona made it official, but the city was the first in the world to launch a targeted magic shop and museum of magic.
This happened back in 1881 and sparked a continental interest in the art form, no doubt progressing its popularity far more rapidly than before.
10. Barcelona is the Only City to Receive a Royal Gold Medal for Architecture
Architectural awards have been handed out by the Royal Institute of British Architects since 1848. They identify and acknowledge great feats of architecture in individuals around the world.
Barcelona is the only city to have been awarded a medal for its architecture. The city has played a big role in the influence of architectures all over the globe and it seemed only right that it be honored in some by by the British Institute; and since no single architect or group is responsible for Barcelona on a whole, the award went to the city instead.