A birthplace of artists, singing fountains, and architectural geniuses, Barcelona is one of the most famous cities in the world and has plenty of interesting facts to awake your Catalan wanderlust.
And if those are not enough to make you daydreaming, I curated 25 of my best photos to make you feel like you’re already there, enjoying Gaudi’s genius and getting lost in the winding medieval alleys.
A mythical origin
Let’s start our interesting Barcelona facts from the beginning. 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!
The beaches are not natural
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. Nada! Due to the Olympics however, a few artificial ones have been created that granted Barcelona the status of a top beach city in the world.
See Also: What to Skip in Barcelona
Cars are not worth it
I love walkable cities! Seriously, there is no better way to feel 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 is that?
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 way safer to walk around the city than drive.
Barcelona has 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 Barcelona 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 pretty handy (no, I have no idea how they deal with the rain).
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 about is nightlife. There are plenty of clubs and bars in the city, and some of them go to 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!
Together we are La Rambla
La Rambla is the most famous street in Barcelona and one of the most famous alleys in the world. An interesting Barcelona 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 trying to cheat you
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 Golden Medal for architecture is 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 the Catalan Modernism no one can deny Barcelona truly deserves its award.
Sagrada Familia is built slower than the pyramids
A most prominent example of the unique Barcelona style and the biggest landmark in the city 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.
See Also: How to Spend 2 Days in Madrid
Gaudi wasn’t the first
A well-known fact is that Gaudi is the architect of the 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, I can’t leave one of his most famous works out of my Interesting Barcelona 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 all fields you can imagine. 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.
This one is kind of a grim Barcelona fact. It’s not even a confirmed one but more of an urban myth.
Do you know why the taxis in the city are black and yellow? The story says it’s in memory of Gaudi. According to Catalan symbolics, black is the color of mourning while the yellow is the color of 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 all 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 good story we should all take some points out of. Never judge a book by its cover!
The best of all Barcelona facts
The last interesting Barcelona fact is the most interesting of them all. 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.
That’s all from me, I hope you enjoyed those peculiar Barcelona facts and photos!
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