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TOURIST INFORMATIONHISTORY29 OCTOBER 2020

HISTORY OF THE CITY

Gothic Quarter

Roman, Visigothic and Muslim Eras

Barcelona was founded by the Romans in the late 1st century BC with the of the Roman colony Julia Faventia Paterna Barcino. We can still see some remains of the city wall with great dimensions at that time. Before the Romans, in the 4th century BC, there were two main Iberian settlements, one on the Mount Taber area and another on what todays is Montjuic.

Wall Barcelona

Photo: Angela Llop (Wikimedia Commons). License: CC BY-SA

In 415 AD, a Visigoth king took over Barcino for 3 centuries until the Muslim conquered it and dominating for almost 2 centuries. 

County of Barcelona

After the Christian kingdoms' conquest of the whole Iberian Peninsula, the Franks founded the country of Barcelona in the so-called Marca Hispánica, a territory in the Pyrenees area ruled by the Carolingian for a century. In 878, Wifredo el Velloso was appointed Count of Barcelona and made the Count of Barcelona the most powerful among the so-called Catalan Counties. 

Although his succesors were vassals to the Muslim, the Muslim forces commanded by Almanzor attacked and destroyed the city of Barcelona in 985. Borrell II moved away from the Frank monarchs after not receiving any backup during the wars. 

The historical union and separation of the rest of the counties were about the noble families' inheritances and deals. In 1137, Count Ramón Berenguer IV married Petronila, the daughter of Ramiro II of Aragon, and the County of Barcelona became part of the Crown of Aragon. 

Crown of Aragon

Crown of Aragon

The union with the Kingdom of Aragon caused the expansion of the County of Barcelona throughout the whole region of Catalonia and Barcelona was the most important economic and political centre in the Western Mediterranean area. 

King Jaume I founded the municipality of Barcelona in 1249 and Barcelona continued being a thriving city until 1333, when the famine and epidemics arrived, killing thousands of people. 4 years later, the city was divided into tens by the plague affecting all Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. 

In the 15th century, Barcelona was in decline with a rise in the prices, causing a huge economic crisis. The kingdom currency was devalued, the industry was paralized and the exterior trade experienced enormous economic losses, being Valencia the new trade arising city. The peasants wars against the feudal lords and the war against Juan II of Castille ended up wrecking the city. At the end of the 15th century, Barcelona started to be rebuilt and recovered. 

Modern Era and Industrial Revolution

Arch of Triumph

The 17th and 18th centuries were terrible for Barcelona, since the Mediterranean colonies were lost and there were two important wars in Spain: the War of Secession and the War of Succession. 

The War of Secession was a consequence of the Spanish Crown taxes to collect funds for the expenses in the Thirty Years' War against France. The Catalans uprose and backed up by France started a war with the French as the only victors, annexing half of Catalonia. 

The War of Succession involved many countries in Europe because of the dispute between the Borbons and the Habsburgs for the Spanish throne. The Crown of Aragon favoured the Habsburgs, after being promised to maintain their own codes of law and privileges. In 1714, the war ended up with the occupation of the city by the Borbons and the loss of the Catalan codes of law and privileges. 

After these wars, the trade with the American continent and the rest of the Iberian Peninsula made Barcelona a thriving city. Also, there was a period of cultural recovery, the so-called "Renaixença," for Catalan as a literary language.

Barcelona developed a spectacular industry, especially the textile industry, immigrating thousands of workers to the city. In 1848, the first railway in Spain was inaugurated, the Eixample expansion district was planned in 1859, the trams started to use electricity in 1886 and in the late 19th century some famous public buildings and avenues such as Les Rambles were built. 

Barcelona was a witness to the Spanish War of Independence, the three Carlist Wars, the First Spanish Republic, an countless number of workers strikes and uprisings. The arrival of the Restoration meant the appeasement of the social tensions and it was the beginning of a golden age for the city, economically and artistically speaking. In 1888, the first of the two Universal Exhibitions took place in the city, make it very well-known all round the world. 

20th Century and Present

House Milá

One of the most famous Catalan architects during the 20th century was Antoni Gaudí, designing the very well-known Casa Milà, Casa Batlló or the Basilica of the Sagrada Família. 

From 1909 on, there were two decades of prosperity for the city, since the powerful countries' need of supplies for the World War I enriched the upper middle-classes from Barcelona. However,  after the Great War, a period of economic crisis arrived. 

 

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