It’s easy to like Barcelona but to really fall in love with it, you need to better know the Catalan capital. Learning the most interesting Barcelona facts is a great start. You won’t only learn some curious conversation starters, but you’ll also inspire your Catalan wanderlust.
From the cheating Colombus statue to the snail-ish construction of Sagrada Familia, here are the top 20 most interesting facts about Barcelona:
A mythical origin
We start our interesting Barcelona facts from the very beginning. Unlike most great cities, nobody really knows how and when Barcelona was founded. There are two legends about its origin, and both are truly legendary.
The first one states that the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, created the city in the third century BC and named it Barcino after his family.
The second one is even more intriguing. According to it, Hercules himself created Barcelona 400 years before the Roman Empire!
According to National Geographic, Barcelona is one of the best beach cities in the world. I have to respectfully disagree with them. Barcelona’s beach, Barcelonetta, is not only unimpressive but also fake.
Till 1992, there were no beaches in the city. Due to the Olympics, however, a few artificial ones were created, and they were enough to grant Barcelona the status of a top beach city in the world.
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Forget the cars
I love walkable cities! Seriously, there is no better way to catch the soul of a city than getting lost in its tiny alleys. Barcelona is one of the most walkable cities out there, but do you know why?
It’s because some of the worst drivers in the world are in Barcelona. Statistics show there is a traffic incident every 55 minutes (no, it’s not every 19 seconds like the urban legend says)! It’s much safer to walk around the city than drive.
The wild escalators
Speaking about how walkable Barcelona is, I should also mention it has the biggest urban park in Spain. You don’t think that’s an interesting fact?
Ok, how about the fact that there are escalators out there. Seriously, how many outdoor escalators have you seen? Since Montjuic is basically a small mountain, they come in pretty handy too. I have no idea how they deal with the rain, though. Perhaps they’re waterproof.
Catalan Valentine’s Day
Catalans are famous for loving and respecting their traditions and heritage. Even though Barcelona is part of Spain, they speak Catalonian – not Spanish. They prefer to use the Catalonian flag, not the Spanish one. They even tried to become a separate nation on numerous occasions.
It’s not surprising they have their own St. Valentine’s day too. It’s on April 23rd, it’s called St. George’s day, and the typical gifts are roses and books.
One of a kind nightlife
Something Barcelona is quite famous for is the nightlife. There are plenty of clubs and bars in the city, and some of them are on the next level of quirkiness.
The Bharma bar is a place that will make you part of the TV show – Lost. They had their own Bharma Industry beer, and the tail of the Oceanic 815 plane is hanging on the wall.
If you’re not a big “Lost” fan, you can go to the Icebarcelona. As the name suggests, this bar is made entirely of ice. They even got a Tetris machine made of ice!
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Together we are La Rambla
La Rambla is the most famous street in Barcelona and one of the world’s most famous alleys. An interesting fact that most people don’t know is that La Rambla is composed of 5 different streets.
Rambla de Canaletes, Rambla dels Estudis, Rambla de Sant Josep, Rambla dels Caputxins and Rambla de Santa Mònica come together to form the legendary La Rambla.
Heavy Voltron vibes here!
Columbus is a cheater
At the end of La Rambla, you will find the iconic Columbus monument. It was constructed for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona (1888) in honor of Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas. It represents the famous explorer himself, pointing to the new continent.
The interesting fact here is that the statue actually points in a completely different direction. It was considered that aesthetically looks better to point at sea than a random building.
Columbus is such a fraud.
Barcelona has a medal
Although the Royal Gold Medal for architecture is usually given to a single person or in some cases a group of architects, in 1999, the Royal Institute of British Architects awarded it to the city of Barcelona.
A playground for the geniuses of Gaudi and Montaner and also the birthplace of Catalan Modernism, no one can deny Barcelona deserves its award.
Sagrada Familia is built slower than the pyramids
The most prominent example of the unique Barcelona style and the city’s biggest landmark is the Sagrada Familia basilica.
Its construction began back in 1882, and it’s expected to be finished in 2026. If there are no further delays, the construction would be ongoing for nearly 150 years! To put that in perspective, The Great Pyramid of Giza took the ancient Egyptians 20 years while the Taj Mahal was constructed in 21.
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Gaudi wasn’t the first
A well-known fact is that Gaudi is the architect of Sagrada Familia. An interesting and pretty unknown fact, however, is that Gaudi was not the first architect of the basilica.
Francesc del Villar was the first one commissioned to design the Sagrada, but after he resigned a year into the project, Gaudi took over and completely remodeled the blueprints.
Park Guell was not supposed to be a park
And speaking about Gaudi, we can’t leave one of his most famous works out of the fun facts list.
Do you know that the world-famous Park Güell was not intended to be a park at all? It began as a visionary housing complex, but after receiving no interest from investors, the project eventually failed. Gaudi moved into one of the model homes and stayed there until his death.
Barcelona inspired the stormtroopers
Barcelona inspired a lot of artists in almost every field you can imagine. A least known Barcelona fact is that the odd-looking chimneys on the top of Gaudi’s masterpiece, Cassa Milla, inspired George Lucas to create the Star Wars stormtroopers. I wonder what inspired him to give them such a bad aim.
The taxi shame
This one is kinda grim. It’s worth noting that it’s not a confirmed fact but more of a popular urban legend.
Do you know why the taxis in the city are black and yellow? The story says it’s to commemorate the great Gaudi. According to Catalan symbolics, black is the color of mourning, while yellow symbolizes shame.
The legend goes that when Gaudi was hit by a tram, he was poorly dressed and had no money in him, so not a single taxi or carriage would take him to the hospital. That’s why in 1926, the government of Barcelona created a law forcing taxis and carriages to mourn after the great architect and wear their shame now and forever.
If this is true or the government simply decided on those colors as a coincidence, we may never know, but it’s a meaningful story nonetheless.
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The best of all Barcelona facts
The next fun Barcelona fact is also the most interesting one.
Do you know that the city was the first one considered by Gustav Eiffel to be the home of his tower? It was declined by the Barcelona officials at the time due to not fitting the city’s landscape.
Can you imagine a world where the Eiffel tower is not in France but Spain? I certainly can’t.
The most walked street in Spain
We already mentioned the famous La Rambla, but would I surprise you if I tell you that Catalonia’s most famous street is not its busiest one?
The title here goes to the shopping mecca Portal de l’Àngel. Being one of the most expensive streets in Europe, it also holds the record for the busiest street in Spain with an average of 150,000 pedestrians per day.
Barcelona is green
It’s time for yet another one of my favorite Barcelona facts.
Yes, Barcelona is green. What do I mean?
No, the city is not painted in green (more of an orange, I would say).
Barcelona is green because almost 10% of the city is covered in parks! That makes around 18.1 square meters of park area per inhabitant, which is absolutely incredible and unheard of for a major metropolis such as the Catalan capital.
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Barcelona does not like flamenco or bullfighting
Reading all of the Barcelona facts above, you probably got the feeling that the people of Catalonia have a robust identity, and things that are emblematic for Spain just don’t work in Barcelona.
One of those things is the signature Spanish dance flamenco. Born in the 15th century in Andalucia, flamenco is world-renounced, but for some reason, it never picked up much ground in Catalonia. Yes, you can find street performers and flamenco souvenirs, but those things are targeted only to tourists. Regular Barcelona citizens don’t care about flamenco. They prefer their own native dance – the Sardana.
Another thing you can no longer see in Barcelona is bullfighting. The authentic but very controversial Spanish’ sport’ was banned in Catalonia in 2010.
City of museums
Barcelona is a very museum-friendly city. There are 55 museums in the Catalan capital that covers a plethora of subjects.
Wait, why is this among the most interesting facts about Barcelona? It’s just dull statistics.
The exciting part here is the most visited museum. You may think that the winner is the fabulous Fundació Joan Miró, the spectacular Picasso Museum, or the one-of-a-kind Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, but no.
The most visited museum in Barcelona is the museum of the football club FC Barcelona. Considering how popular football is in Europe and that FC Barcelona is one of the very best clubs on the continent, it’s not really that surprising that this sports museum welcomes over 1,5 million visitors per year.
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Haunted metro stations
We cap the fun facts about Barcelona with a ghost story. There are 12 abandoned metro stations in the Catalan capital, and they all claim to be haunted. For some time now, the story of the ghost stations is very popular, and a scary metro tour has become a top tourist activity.
The most famous station is (of course) the abandoned Gaudí station, where plenty of people claim to have seen ghosts (not specifically the Gaudi ghost, though).
That’s all from me, I hope you enjoyed my fun Barcelona facts!
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