History of Barcelona

The city of Barcelona was founded in the late 1st century BC as a Roman colony: Barcino. However, its origins go all the way back to the Bronze Age.

Throughout its 4000 years of history, it has been under the dominance of Laietanis, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Christians and Muslims, who left a rich historical and cultural legacy.

Ancient Barcino is the most immediate precedent of modern-day Barcelona. The city centre was surrounded by walls with 4 entry gates and it occupied a surface of 25 acres. Today, as well as the remains of the wall, you can see many remains of this ancient Roman colony, such as the Roman Temple (late 1st century BC) on Carrer Paradís and the Sepulcral Roman way (1st-3rd century BC) in Plaça Vila de Madrid, the watchtowers (4th century AD) on Carrer Correu Vell and Plaça Ramón Berenguer, the Roman aqueducts (1st century BC) on Plaça Nova, the crafts district, the Barcelona History Museum (2nd-4th century AD) on Plaça del Rei and the episcopal complex.

After the medieval expansion, the Gothic city developed around Plaça de Sant Jaume. Around the whole district you can see remains of the walls and some of the most important landmarks, such as the Palau de la Generalitat (Catalan Government Building), Palau de l’Ajuntament (Town Hall), Plaça del Rei, Palau Reial Major, the Church of Santa Àgata and the Palau de l’Arxiu of the Crown of Aragon (Royal Archives).

After the military defeat in the War of Spanish Succession, Barcelona grew economically thanks to the cotton factories and the freedom of American trade.

During this time, the urbanization of the Raval and Rambla districts was carried out.

This time was a time of great unrest due to the social and political events that were taking place throughout the country.

Urban reforms began as the walls and the military fortress (actually Parc de la Ciutadella) were demolished. In 1848, the first train reached the city.

Thanks to the Universal Exhibition, Barcelona not only notably improved its infrastructures, but it also reached huge international recognition.

At the end of the 19th century, numerous leisure and physical activity centres were built, which turned Barcelona into the sports capital of Spain.

The post-war and Franco regime years were very hard on Barcelona, which was submitted to rationing and the black market.

With the arrival of democracy, urbanism and culture were reborn. Later, the 1992 Olympic Games were the final boost for the city’s development.

The Universal Forum of Cultures of 2004 implemented new changes in the city, as the construction of a new district, Diagonal Mar. From then until now, Barcelona has become a cosmopolitan city with huge international presence.