Barcelona is a progressive, industrial, middle-class
and European city, while at the same time being traditionalist,
popular, typically Mediterranean and having a pleasant climate.
This dichotomy between tradition and progress is a characteristic
of both the city and it's nearly two million inhabitants.
Barcelona stands on a plain that slopes gently down from the
Sierra de Collserola (with it highest mountain, Mount Tibidabo,at
512m) to the sea. The City's civic and political centre is
situated in the square known as Plaça de Sant Jaume,
where the palaces of the Generalitat and the Town Hall stand.
The management of the city is under the control of this latter,
The other palace, ie. of the Generalitat, is the seat of
the government of the Catalan Autonomous Community. At present,
Catalunya has about 6 million inhabitants. It started life
as a ´march´ at the time of Charlemagne (9C), when
this area came out of its long prehistoric past of Iberian
tribes, colonisation by the Phoenicians and Greek, Roman domination,
the invasion of the Goths, and finally the Arabs, who were
the reason why the Franks decided to set up a border-defence
area. As a result, a new country was born on both sides of
the eastern sector of the Pyrenees. With the passing of time,
and thanks to Barcelona, this country, composed of different
counties, became first independent and then, following the
union of Catalunya and Aragon, became a kingdom with Barcelona
as its capital. Towards the end of the 15C, Catalunya and Aragon
joined up with the kingdom of Castile and, at the beginning
of the 18C, were absorbed under the Spain of the bourbons,
thus losing their independence. It was at this time when Barcelona,
thanks to its commercial and manufacturing drive, became the
most modern city in the country. Its independent past and modernity
were to determine, from that moment onwards, the ambiguous
character of this Mediterranean city.
Barcelona contains monuments and remains from all the different
stages in its history, and therefore is a very old city with
a rich and varied past. All this comes to light in many ways.
For example, in its traditionalism. This is expressed in religion
- Christian in character but with strong pagan overtones; in
society, with very deep-rooted direct relationships, great
importance given to the family and with some imaginative and
clever individuals; in the economy, with small and efficient
companies; in popular festivities that are maintained with
both naturalness and fervour; in the Catalan language, which
has still been conserved despite constant pressure from the
Spanish language; and in the gastronomy, as well as other areas
of popular or minority culture. Nevertheless, Barcelona has
almost always held its modern image, mainly because it has
kept its traditions. This could be seen in the Middle Ages
with French-Style feudalism in Catalunya and a very strong
feeling of a free city in Barcelona; in the early dedication
to commerce and the manufacture of textiles in the 14C; in
the industrialisation at the beginning of the 19C; in the great
movement dedicated to cultural and political recovery in the
latter part of the last century (the so-called Renaixença),
which was then followed by the equally important and powerful "modernisme" or
Modernism period in Catalunya, along with several other ultra-modern
movements in the 20C. The writer Vargas Llosa said that there
was no other city in the world as "snobbish" as Barcelona,
except for Milan. The search for and capture of what is "new" is
characteristic of one sector of the population and slowly spreads
to the rest. It is no wonder, therefore, that some people have
spoken of "schizophrenia" caused by the dichotomy
between what is traditional and what is new.
At the moment, Barcelona is a "closed" city. That
is, it cannot and does not want to grow any more, and so, as
result, its streets and buildings are now undergoing a restoration
period, and it is trying to improve its services and living
conditions in an attempt to substitute quantity for quality.
Its newly restored squares are already drawing the attention
of the rest of the world, and during the summer months there
are all kinds of sporting, commercial and cultural event being
held in ever-increasing numbers where previously there was
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what tours we have available here!
Tours - Gourmet wine tours in Spain and Portugal. Includes
tours of Penedes and Tarragona in Catalonia