Barcelona, Spain

From art to architecture and history to iconic beaches, Barcelona has something for everyone! Set like a jewel on the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is Spain’s busiest port and cultural center, yet it is set apart by its fierce independence and allegiance to its Catalonian heritage. Call the “Paris of Spain” by Hans Christian Andersen in 1862, the remarkable city is famous for its architecture in the Art Nouveau, Modern, and Gothic styles. Its most famous building is still under construction. The La Sagrada Familia Cathedral broke ground in 1882 and the projected finish date is 2026 for the centennial anniversary of the death of Antoni Gaudi.

The exact year of Barcelona’s founding is unknown, but it is thought that the Phoenicians or the Carthaginians were the first inhabitants of the area, due to its location along the Mediterranean Sea. The Romans invaded the region in 218 BC, but were overthrown by the Germanic tribes in the 3rd century. The Moors arrived in the area known as “Barcinona” in 717 CE and held it until 801 when it came under the control of the Carolingian Franks. But that wasn’t the end of the Moors, since they kept attacking at different points in the 9th century.

For a long time during the Dark Ages, Barcelona was ruled by the Counts of Barcelona and Gerona, some of which were vassals to the Muslims. By the Middle Ages, Barcelona was transferred to the Kingdom of Aragon through marriage in an attempt to prevent the royal family of Castile (Spain) from ruling it. It was under the House of Aragon that Barcelona rose to importance. It was also under the House of Aragon that Barcelona’s fall from prominence happened in the mid-15th century. What finally put Barcelona under Spanish rule was the marriage between Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabel of Castile.