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BARCELONA, CATALONIA


I want to do a special mention to Barcelona because I was born in this city. I think is a wonderful city and maybe the most tourist one in Spain.
Barcelona is a province of eastern Spain, in the center of the autonomous community of Catalonia. It is bordered by the provinces of Tarragona, Lleida, and Girona, and by the Mediterranean Sea.

Its capital is Barcelona. About 5,330,000 people live in the province (2007), of whom 1,595,110 live in the municipality of Barcelona.

Some other cities and towns in Barcelona province include L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Badalona, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Martorell, Mataró, Granollers, Sabadell, Terrassa, Sitges, Igualada, Vic, Manresa, Berga.

Barcelona is the capital and most populous city of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain, with a population of 1,615,908 in 2008, while the population of the Metropolitan Area was 3,161,081. It is the central nucleus of the Urban Region of Barcelona, which relies on a population of about 5.5 million. It is located on the Mediterranean coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs and is limited to the west by the Serra de Collserola ridge (512 m/1,680 ft).

Barcelona is a major economic centre with one of Europe's principal Mediterranean ports, and Barcelona International Airport is the second largest in Spain after Madrid-Barajas Airport. Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, it became one of the most important cities of the Crown of Aragon. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination and has a rich cultural heritage. Particularly renowned are architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is well known in recent times for the 1992 Summer Olympics. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean are located in Barcelona.

As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona houses the seat of the Catalan government, known as the Generalitat de Catalunya; of particular note are the executive branch, the parliament, and the Supreme Court of Catalonia. The city is also the capital of the county (comarca) of the Barcelonès.

The foundation of Barcelona is the subject of two different legends. The first attributes the founding of the city to Hercules 400 years before the building of Rome and that it was rebuilt by the Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who named the city Barcino after his family, in the 3rd century BC. The second legend attributes the foundation directly to Hamilcar Barca.

About 15 BC, the Romans redrew the town as a castrum (Roman military camp) centred on the "Mons Taber", a little hill near the contemporary city hall (Plaça de Sant Jaume). Under the Romans, it was a colony with the surname of Faventia, or, in full, Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino or Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino. Mela mentions it among the small towns of the district, probably as it was eclipsed by its neighbour Tarraco (modern Tarragona); but it may be gathered from later writers that it gradually grew in wealth and consequence, favoured as it was with a beautiful situation and an excellent harbour. It enjoyed immunity from imperial burdens. The city minted its own coins; some from the era of Galba survive.

Some important Roman ruins are exposed under the Plaça del Rei, entrance by the city museum (Museu d'Història de la Ciutat), and the typically Roman grid-planning is still visible today in the layout of the historical centre, the Barri Gòtic ("Gothic Quarter"). Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the cathedral. The cathedral, also known as basilica La Seu is said to have been founded in 343. The city was conquered by the Visigoths in the early fifth century, by the Moors in the early eighth century, reconquered from the emir in 801 by Charlemagne's son Louis who made Barcelona the seat of Carolingian "Spanish Marches" (Marca Hispanica), a buffer zone ruled by the Count of Barcelona. Barcelona was still a Christian frontier territory when it was sacked by Al-Mansur in 985.

The Counts of Barcelona became increasingly independent and expanded their territory to include all of Catalonia. In 1137, Aragon and the County of Barcelona merged by dynastic union by the marriage of Ramon Berenguer IV and Petronilla of Aragon and their titles were finally borne by only one person when their son Alfonso II of Aragon ascended to the throne in 1162. His territories were later to be known as the Crown of Aragon which conquered many overseas possessions, ruling the western Mediterranean Sea with outlying territories in Naples and Sicily and as far as Athens in the thirteenth century. The forging of a dynastic link between the Crowns of Aragon and Castile marked the beginning of Barcelona's decline.

Subway map of Barcelona:
Map of Barcelona Province:

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