The 1992 Summer Olympics revealed to the world what Europeans and seasoned travelers already knew – Barcelona is one of the world’s greatest treasures. Vibrant and earthy, commercial and cultural, this city of two million is the capital of Spain’s autonomous region of Catalonia.
Stroll along the wide tree-lined Las Ramblas and admire the spires of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia.
Or visit the former Olympic ring on Montjuic hill – also home to world-class parks, fountains, and museums. Having nurtured artistic greats such as Picasso, Dali, Miró, and Casals, Barcelona is definitely a traveler’s paradise.
All that sun, sea and sangria can go straight to your head in Gaudí’s architectural wonderland — Barcelona. You may have seen the sights and tasted your way through the city, but here are 10 things you probably don’t know about the capital of Catalonia.
1. The Roman side of town
Barcelona is known for its lively nightlife these days, but it wasn’t always so carefree. Before discos and booze, there was a Roman predecessor, “Barcino.” Not exactly a modern metropolis, Barcino was a small town colonized by the Roman emperor Augustus. The emperor was so proud of his conquered city that he had a temple built in his honor. Fortunately, you can still see it in the Gothic Quarter on your next trip!
If you’re looking for the full story, you can head to the Museo d’Historia de Catalunya for all the juicy details. All 2000 years, that is.
- There are 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
One of the things that makes Barcelona so significant is that it is home to 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Don’t think that’s a lot? To give you an idea, there are only 23 in the entire United States!
Of course, no visit to the city would be complete without diving into Gaudi’s genius (7 out of 9 locations are his!). Through this Gaudi walking tour, you can dive deep into the personal playground of “God’s Architect”, including the Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera.
Barcelona is waiting for you whenever you are ready to visit!
- Barcelona has a creepy underground
If you want to see something spooky, visiting an abandoned subway station could be just the ticket. Hidden deep beneath the bustling streets of Barcelona are 12 “ghost stations” (some of which are supposedly haunted!). During the Spanish Civil War, the metro stations served as air raid shelters before being later abandoned.
If you’re a fan of ghost stories, you’ll hear more creepy stories on the ghoulish tales on a Ghost Tour.
- Barcelona’s experience with anarchy
Relaxing in the sun with a sangria in hand can make it hard to imagine the tougher times of Barcelona’s past. During the 1930s, however, anarchy reigned in the city, and street battles between rival political groups became more frequent. It all ended during the Spanish Civil War when Franco came to power.
Want to learn more about the city’s complex history? With a Barcelona Card, you can explore Barcelona unbridled. You’ll get access to 25 museums and free public transport, and maybe give the tour guides your money’s worth!
- La Sagrada Familia almost wasn’t
The Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudi’s famous unfinished masterpiece — construction is ongoing 138 years later! Despite the long construction, the plans were almost wholly canceled. In 1936, at the height of the Spanish Civil War, revolutionaries stormed Gaudí’s workshop, destroying his original drawings and plaster models.
It took an incredible 16 years to assemble the original model. So it’s no wonder the real thing is still under construction.
- Gaudi died by accident
The iconic architecture of Catalonia’s most famous artist ensures that Gaudí’s legacy will live on for centuries. Despite all the beautiful sights he left behind in Barcelona, his death came unexpectedly. While working on his latest project with no end in sight — La Sagrada Familia — he took a break and went on his daily walk to confession. Unfortunately, on June 7, 1926, he was accidentally hit and fatally wounded by a city tram.
If you want to pay your respects with a trip to his latest and greatest project, an otherworldly basilica, you’ll see some of his sketches up close. Now you can start planning when the doors open again.
Read more: https://www.amazon.com/LIVING-WORKING-BOARD-CRUISE-SHIP-ebook/dp/B07XP9KYW9