32 Fun Facts About Barcelona, Spain

by Janis on October 1, 2015

rooftop chimneys at Casa Mila, Barcelona, SpainWe’ve visited Barcelona, Spain several times, and have loved the food and the unique architecture like the rooftop of Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Milà.  In anticipation of an upcoming return visit, we did a little background research on the city.

32 Interesting Facts about Barcelona, Spain

View of Barcelona, Spain from space from NASA.

View of Barcelona, Spain from space from NASA.

1. Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city with 1.6 million residents.

2. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous community of Spain that consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona.

3. Both Catalan and Spanish are official languages in Barcelona. While Spanish is spoken more frequently, Catalan is understood by 95 percent of Barcelona residents.

Barcelona, Spain4. Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate with mild, humid winters and warm, dry summers. Winter temperatures range from 39 to 63 °F, compared to summertime temperatures between73 to 90 °F. Frosts and snow are rare.

5. Each year, 8 million tourists visit Barcelona, making it Europe’s third most-visited city after London and Paris.

Barcelona, Spain view from Port Vell aerial tramway6. With its key location on the Mediterranean Sea, the Port of Barcelona is Europe’s largest cruise port, with approximately 3.6 million cruisers passing through the port each year.

7. The Barcelona Maritime Museum is located in the historic Barcelona Royal Shipyard, a former military building dating to the 13th century, with a Roman graveyard found underneath that structure.

8. There are two stories about the founding of Barcelona. One version claims the city was founded by Hercules, 400 years before the building of Rome.

9. The second version attributes the founding of Barcelona to Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who named the city Barcino after his family in the Third century BC.

10. A typical Roman grid plan is still visible today in Barcelona’s Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter.) Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the Basilica La Seu cathedral founded in 343.

11. In 1794, French astronomer Pierre Méchain used the Montjuïc castle overlooking the Barcelona harbor as one endpoint for his survey providing the official measurement of a meter.

The Columbus monument, built in 1888, honors Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas. Photo by Diliff.

The Columbus monument. Photo by Diliff.

12. The Columbus monument, built in 1888 for the World Exposition, honors Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas, and serves as a reminder that he reported to Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V in Barcelona after his first trip to the new continent.

13. While some tour guides may claim that Columbus is pointing towards America, he is actually pointing to somewhere near Constantine, Algeria, or most likely, simply out to sea.

14. The Art Nouveau movement throughout Europe between 1880 and 1950 left an important legacy in Barcelona, including the work of architect Antoni Gaudí.

Sagrada Família, under construction since 1882 in Barcelona, Spain15. Gaudi is best-known for the immense, iconic but still unfinished Sagrada Família cathedral, which has been under construction since 1882.

16. Antoni Gaudi was not the first architect to work on the Sagrada Família. Architect Francesc del Villar was first commissioned to design the church on that site. When he resigned a year into the project, Gaudi took over and completely revamped the design.

17. Barcelona has 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Seven of them were created by Gaudi:

  • Park Güell
  • Palau Güell
  • Casa Milà
  • Casa Vicens
  • La Sagrada Família
  • Casa Batlló
  • Crypt of the Church at Colonia Guell

The two other UNESCO sites were designed by architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner:

  • Palau de la Música Catalana – one of the world’s leading concert halls
  • Hospital de Sant Pau
The interior of the Palau de la Música concert hall. Photo by Lohen11.

The interior of the Palau de la Música concert hall. Photo by Lohen11.

18. Barcelonans are crazy about football (soccer to Americans.) The city is home to one of the worlds’ largest and richest football clubs, FC Barcelona. The club’s Camp Nou stadium in Europe’s largest, with a capacity of 100,000. More 1.5 million people visit the attached FC Barcelona Museum each year, making it Barcelona’s most-visited museum.

19. Despite their world-class status today, five beaches in Barcelona did not exist before 1992 Summer Olympics. The seacoast was covered by industrial companies. In preparation for the Games, the city relocated the factories and brought in sand to convert the sea coast into a leisure area with beaches, hotels, bars and restaurants.

20. Flamenco is not popular in Barcelona as it is in other parts of Spain. There is a strong contemporary rock-n-roll scene with some night clubs in Barcelona open until 6 am on weekends.

View of Barcelona, Spain21. Driving in Barcelona is dangerous with an accident occurring in the city every 19 seconds. As a result, many Barcelonans prefer to walk. The city has more than 320 acres dedicated to pedestrians.

22. April 23rd is Saint Georges Day (La Diada de San Jordi), the national festival day in Barcelona and throughout the Catalonia region. On this day, Catalonians give their loved ones roses and books, similar to Valentine’s Day. Saint Georges Day celebrations inspired UNESCO to declare April 23 as World Book Day.

Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain23. The 1.2 mile long Las Ramblas –a boulevard filled with strolling tourists and locals — is actually a combination of five streets: Canaletes, Estudis, Sant Josep, Caputxins and Santa Mònica. The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, often simply referred to as La Boqueria, the oldest indoor market in Barcelona is located on La Ramblas.

24. The most crowded street in Spain is Portal de l’Angel, the main shopping street in Barcelona. On average, 3,500 people walk down this street every hour.

The Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate Museum), Barcelona25. The Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate Museum) is owned by the Barcelona pastry-makers’ guild, and contains chocolate sculptures of various well-known Barcelona buildings.

26. Spanish artist Pablo Picasso spent his formative adolescence artist apprenticeship years in Barcelona. The Picasso museum located the gothic Palau Aguilar houses 4,251 works and focuses on the artist’s work from his formative years through his Blue Period.

27. More than 10 percent of Barcelona is parkland, split between 68 parks.  Montjuïc, located on the hill overlooking the harbor, covers more than 500 acres, making it the largest park in all of Spain.

28. Tibidabo is an old fashioned amusement park set on a mountain overlooking Barcelona. Its main rollercoaster, Muntanya Russa, benefits from one of the worlds’ most spectacular settings for a ride.

29. On this You Tube Video above, themeparkjames  shows on how to get to the Tibidabo amusement park, and what it’s like to ride on the Muntanya Russa roller coaster.  

30. The Port Vell area houses Aquarium Barcelona — one of Europe’s largest aquariums with 8,000 fish and 11 sharks housed in more than a million gallons of seawater.

31. The Maremagnum shopping mall – also within the confines of the Port Vell, is the only commercial mall in Barcelona that can open on Sundays and public holidays.

Port Vell Aerial Tramway passing through the Torre de Jaume I. Photo by João Carvalho.

Port Vell Aerial Tramway passing through the Torre de Jaume I. Photo by João Carvalho.

32. Barcelona’s Port Vell aerial tramway first opened in 1931. Today it is mainly a tourist attraction that offers excellent views of the city and its port. The tramway starts at Miramar station halfway down the hill of Montjuïc at an altitude of 187 feet, passes through the 351 ft. peak of Torre Jaume I, and ends at the top of Torre Sant Sebastià at 282 ft., from where passengers taken an elevator down to the streets of the seaside surburb of Barceloneta.

Learn more and/or plan your visit to Barcelona with these books:
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Barcelona & Catalonia


Have you visited Barcelona, or do you live there? What “fun fact” can you add to this list? Please share in comments below.

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