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Barcelona History

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Barcelona, originally called Barcino, was founded in 15 BC by the Romans. The original settlement being on Mons Taber a hill that provided views over the sea and plains. The Jewish were among the early settlers and Barcino was home of Saint Eulalia who was executed at the end of the 3rd Century. In the fourth century the town walls were constructed to protect the Christian community that lived in Barcino.

Barcino fell to the Visigoths in 415 and changed it's name to Barcelona. They did not stay long and Barcelona was largely neglected until 801 when Barcelona was taken by the Louis the Pious and was made the bastion of the Marca Hispancia. Count Guifre el Pilos at the end of the ninth century controlled several Catalan countries and led to a continuous dynasty of the Counts of Barcelona until 1410.

This period was marked by the Catalan Romanesque Art and the construction of monasteries and churches including Santa Maria del maria and Santa Maria del Pi. Trade developed and the wealth led to expansion of the city boundary beyond it's Roman routes. Ships were built in the shipyards at Drassanes. In the 13th Century Jaume 1 organised the building of a second wall behind the Rambla and started a form of self

overnment with chosen citizens sitting the Conseil de Cent.



This very prosperous period ran into problems at the end of the 13th Century as too many resources were needed to maintain the Empire and the far way ports. It was not helped by the black death of 1340. In 1410 Marti 1 did without an heir and the crown was passed to Trastamaras family. Civil war and peasant revolt came in 1460 and led to famine and the end of an era. In 1469 Ferdinand of Aragon married Isabel of Castille which led to a the uniting of several Spanish kingdoms. In 1516 the crown passed to the House of Habsburg.

The next period was a time of conflict and Catolina lost influence in part due to the growing trade with the New`World which the Catalans were not allowed to participate in until the 1770's. They survived on trade within the Mediterranean.

Barcelona started to gain significance once again in the 18th Century. By the end of the century Barcelona was a major exporter of wines, spirits, textiles and wool to the New World. This increased wealth led the next building boom and the most obvious example being La Rambla which was transformed from a river bed to a street that is still one of the leading streets in the World. 1832 saw the first steam powered factory. Another boost came in 1848 with the opening of the railway between Barcelona and Mataro. The city walls were demolished in the middle of the century to allow expansion and for Barcelona to spread outward. From the 1880's modernism became the style and the Eixample was created and designed by Cerda. The idea was to place two of the main avenues along a parallel and a meridian with the intention to form districts each having 20 blocks. To show Barcelona off to the world a Universal Exhibition was held in 1888. Much changed during this period

Antonia Gaudi was one of the many that took forward the spirit of the time. In 1878 he worked with Eusebi Guell to build Palau Guell and Park Guell built during the period 1900 - 1914. The Sagrada Família was started in 1883 and involved in Gaudi and the most complex Gaudi project was La Pedrera which he started in 1905.

i1914 saw administrative union of four Catalan provinces with the first president being Prat de la Riba. Spain remained neutral in World War 1 and refugees came from all over Europe. The 1920's were prosperous and showcased at the second International Exhibition in 1929. This event triggered the building of many new buildings including the post office at Via Laitana and the first metro line.

The Second Spanish Republic came on 14 April 1931. Francesc Macia declared Catalonia an independent Republic within the federation of states governed from Madrid. The coalition soon collapsed and led to a general strike in 1934 and a period of conflict remained until Barcelona fell to the Francoist Army on 26 January 1939.

The Franco regime was strong on the Catalans and all expression in Catalan was forbidden. All Catalan buildings were destroyed and many people were executed. From 1939 until the mid 1950's Barcelona suffered badly. In 1953 when the UN Embargo on Spain was lifted improved things. In 1959 the Plan de Estabilizacion started the transformation of Spain into a Western economy. From 1966 resistance to the the Franco regime grew.

Celebrations in Barcelona were enormous following death of Franco on the 20 November 1975. The city emerged once again and the Catalan culture once again reemerged. A post modern, fresh modern style was encouraged and the start of a new building and restoration programme. Public art, parks and urban renewal led by Oriol Bohigas.

The 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games gave another major thrust and a city wide reconstruction and development was undertaken from the day of announcement in 1986 until the start of the games. The city was re orientated to face the sea and lots fo work undertaken on the sea front and coastline.

Today Barcelona presents itself as a major modern city. A`city that is visited by millions and seen as a "place to go". A city that manages private and public partnership well.


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