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Barcelona’s Top 10 : Stages in Barcelona’s History

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  1. BC: The Founding of a City

    Barcino, as the city was first known, was founded in the 3rd century BC by Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca. It was taken by the Romans in 218 BC, but played second fiddle in the region to the provincial capital of Tarragona.

  2. 4th–11th Centuries: Early Invasions

    As the Roman Empire began to fall apart in the 5th century, the Visigoths took over the city, followed by the Moors in the 8th century. Around AD 800, Charlemagne conquered the area with the help of the Pyrenean counts.

  3. 12th–16th Centuries: The Middle Ages

    During this period, Barcelona was the capital of a Catalan empire that included much of modern Spain and parts of the Mediterranean. The city’s fortune was built on commerce, but as neighbouring Castile expanded into the New World, trading patterns shifted and the Catalan dynasty faltered. Barcelona fell into decline and came under Castilian domination.

  4. 1638–1652: Catalan Revolt

    In reaction to the oppressive policies set out in Madrid, now ruled by the Austrian Habsburgs, various local factions, known as Els Segadors, revolted. Fighting began in 1640 and dragged on until 1652, when the Catalans and their French allies were defeated.

  5. 19th Century: Industry & Prosperity

    Booming industry and trade with the Americas brought activity to the city. Immigrants poured in from the countryside, laying the foundations of prosperity but also the seeds of unrest. The old city walls came down, broad Eixample avenues were laid out and workers crowded the old city neighbourhoods left behind by the middle classes.

  6. 1888–1929: The Renaixença

    This new wealth, showcased in the International Exhibitions of 1888 and 1929, sparked a Catalan renaissance. Modernista mansions sprouted up, and the nationalist bourgeoisie sparked a revival of Catalan culture, particularly of literature, theatre and art.

  7. 1909–1931: The Revolutionary Years

    But discontent brewed among workers, Catalan nationalists, communists, Spanish fascists, royalists, anarchists and republicans. In 1909, protests against the Moroccan war sparked a brutal riot, the Setmana Tràgica (Tragic Week). Lurching towards Civil War, Catalonia passed under a dictatorship before being declared a Republic in 1931.

  8. 1936–1975 Civil War & Franco

    At the outbreak of war in 1936, Barcelona’s workers and militants managed to fend off Franco’s troops for a while. The city was taken by Fascist forces in 1939, prompting a wave of repression, particularly of the Catalan language which was banned in schools.

  9. 1975–1980s Transition to Democracy

    Franco’s death in 1975 paved the way for democracy. The Catalan language was rehabilitated and, following the introduction of a new democratic constitution in Spain, Catalonia was granted regional autonomy. The first Catalan government was elected in 1980.

  10. 1992–Present Day The Olympics & Beyond

    Barcelona was catapulted onto the world stage in 1992 with the highly successful Olympics. Today, the city remains socialist in politics and ready to perceive itself as both Spanish and Catalan.

    Olympic Games, 1992

Top 10 Historical Figures

  1. Guifré the Hairy

    The first Count of Barcelona (d. 897) is regarded as the founding father of Catalonia.

  2. Ramon Berenguer IV

    He united Catalonia and joined it with Aragon by marrying Princess Petronila in 1137.

  3. Jaume I the Conqueror

    This 13th-century warrior-king (d. 1276) conquered the Balearics and Valencia, laying the foundations for the empire.

  4. Ramon Llull

    Mallorcan philosopher and missionary, Llull (d. 1316) is the greatest figure in medieval Catalan literature.

  5. Ferdinand the Catholic

    King of Aragon and Catalonia (d.1516), he married Isabel of Castile, paving the way for the Kingdom of Spain’s formation and the end of Catalan independence.

  6. Idlefons Cerdà

    19th-century urban planner who designed the Eixample.

  7. Antoni Gaudí

    An idiosyncratic and devout Modernista architect, Gaudí was responsible for Barcelona’s most famous monuments.

  8. Francesc Macià

    This socialist nationalist politician proclaimed the birth of the Catalan Republic (1931) and Catalan autonomy (1932).

  9. Lluís Companys

    Catalan president during the Civil War. Exiled in France, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1940 and returned to Franco, who had him executed.

  10. Jordi Pujol

    A centre-right regionalist politician, Pujol’s Convergència i Unió coalition ruled Catalonia from 1980 to 2003.

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