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Read the story and answer the questions.
Lying on the northeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is a fusion of Roman, Gothic and modern architecture. Even though it is smaller than the capital city of Madrid, Barcelona is the main tourist destination in Spain. With its warm weather, sun-drenched beaches and bustling streets, this port city is a perfect gateway into the Mediterranean culture.
A Brief History of Barcelona
- First recorded settlements on the site of Barcelona started with the establishment of a Roman military camp.
- Throughout the medieval times, Barcelona had both Islamic and Christian influences until it was finally united with other counties into the Principality of Catalonia.
- Due to its coastal position, Barcelona was an important harbor for Mediterranean commerce. However, when the Spanish Empire became prominent in the New World (today’s Americas), Barcelona lost its power.
- With Industrial Revolution, the city’s fortunes started to improve again.
- Barcelona has been the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia since 1931.
- In 1992, Barcelona hosted the Summer Olympic Games.
This Roman Catholic church is the jewel of Antoni Gaudi’s legacy in the city. Although the construction of Sagrada Familia commenced in 1882, the building still remains unfinished. The architect, Gaudi devoted his life to this church, and even so, only a quarter of the project was complete at the time of his death in 1926.
Once finished, the church will be as tall as the tallest mountain in the area, because Guadi believed that no man-made structure should rise above a God’s creation. With its tall ceilings and glass windows that produce beautiful natural light, Sagrada Familia’s interior offers a once in a life time experience for all visitors.
Modern Barcelona is all about the unique designs of Antoni Gaudi. Park Guell is another of his masterpieces. It is a public park, composed of gardens and dream-like buildings and sculptures.
In Park Guell, tourists can also visit the Gaudi House Museum, which contains some of the furniture he designed. The gardens are unique for their mosaic works, the most famous being the multicolored salamander (lizard-like animal), known as the dragon (el drac), greeting all of the park’s visitors at the main entrance.
Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) is the center of the old city of Barcelona. While the neighborhood includes some of the oldest parts of the city, such as the Roman wall, most of the buildings date back to the past two centuries. As such, it is a beautiful mixture of different layers of history.
The narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter form a labyrinth, intercepted by city squares. With the majority of streets being closed for regular traffic, this neighborhood offers some of the necessary peace and quiet in the city.
Temple of Augustus
For those interested in the older history of Barcelona found in the Gothic Quarter, Temple of Augustus is a must-see. This Roman Temple, built in the 1st century BC, was the central building in Barcino, the Roman name for Barcelona.
Although the temple ceased to exist, its columns remained intact and were later on incorporated into the buildings constructed around them. Their ruins, discovered in the late 19th century, are kept indoors for preservation. Only four columns remain out of the original 24.
Fun facts about Barcelona:
- Although Spanish is spoken by nearly everyone in Barcelona, most residents prefer to communicate in the Catalan language.
- Out of all the streets in Barcelona, the most famous one is La Rambla. This lively promenade stretches through the Old Town (Ciutat Vella) like a spine. It’s packed with tourists, locals, street performers, book stands and flowers.
- Camp Nou, home stadium of the Barcelona Football Club (FC) has a capacity of nearly 100,000 people, which makes it the second biggest stadium in the world.
- Although they are now one of the main attractions, the beautiful beaches of Barcelona did not exist before 1992 Summer Olympics.