Barcelona is a city (Spain’s second largest after Madrid) and municipality located on the coast of Catalonia about 110 km south of the French border. Official languages here are Catalan and Spanish.
Just over one and a half million live in the city. With the nearest cities included, the figure goes over three million. If the so-called satellite cities are taken into account, it is about 5 000 000 inhabitants, which makes it one of the most populous cities in the western world.
Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous region known as Catalonia but also for the province of Barcelona and the county of Barcelonès.
From having previously been one of the largest industrial cities in Spain, in recent decades Barcelona has switched to becoming one of the main tourist attractions in the country. In 2015 the city was visited by 5 million tourists.
Barcelona is an important city from a cultural point of view and has a large number of interesting museums and historic buildings. This includes the unfinished Catholic Church (Basilica) Sagrada Família and the World Heritage Park Güell, which was designed by the legendary architect Antoni Gaudí.
When it comes to sports, Barcelona has hosted the Summer Olympics 1992 and arranged the swimming world Championships twice. The city’s perhaps greatest pride is of course FC Barcelona!
The antagonism between Barcelona and central power in Madrid does not only exist on the football field when FC Barcelona meets their nemesis Real Madrid, but can also be clearly seen in the daily life of Catalonia. After it (by Madrid annulled the Catalan referendum when approximately 90% of the population voted for an independent Catalonia, the political situation between Madrid and Catalonia is rather tense. The elected Catalan president Carles Puigemont finds himself (in the autumn of 2018) in exile in Belgium and Madrid has requested him to be extradited, which is unlikely to happen when Puigemont has not violated any law in the country he is currently residing.
For cannabis lovers, Barcelona has a large number of clubs, also called associations. Visitors come from all over the world. Often the atmosphere is very relaxed at the clubs and it is easy to end up in interesting conversations with both local Catalans and other tourists.