Barcelona, cities into the city. History
The city of Barcelona offers the visitor a rich and eclectic architecture. Here you can read a brief general description of the main periods of history that have clearly influenced its architecture and structure. You will also find a list of the most important buildings and monuments. When you visit Barcelona, you will discover buildings of less known or even unknown architects that will also surprise you.
- The Roman city
Barcino, the first Roman township, was founded at the end of the first century B.C. However the name Barcino dates from an earlier settlement possibly dating from the first half of the 1st millennium B.C.. Roman Barcino was a small city of about 100 hectares bounded by walls 2 metres thick. The walls were strengthened and the height increased in the 3rd century A.D.. Impressive stretches of the walls remain notably parallel to Via Laietana at Plaça Ramon Berenguer. To the right of the cathedral, twin towers of the Portal de l'Angel flank the entrance to Carrer del Bisbe (note: street names are shown in italic and Catalan - Carrer is Catalan for street). The lower sections of these semi-circular towers are Roman. Much else remains buried under the medieval city. The Roman forum is believed to lie under the Plaça Sant Jaume. Nearby, at number 10 Carrer del Paradis, three columns of the Temple of Augustus can be seen in their original position, well below the present street level. Clearly a Roman back-water, Barcelona's periods of glory were still to come. Metro: Jaume I (Line 4). .
- The medieval city
By the end of the 13th century Catalunya had grown rich on exports to the rest of the Mediterranean and as far as Flanders. This area of the city is known as the Barri Gòtic (Catalan), Barrio Gótico (Spanish) or Gothic Quarter.
- The modern city
In the 19th century, two great events shaped the present Barcelona. In 1854 the Bourbon walls, built following the surrender to Felipe V in 1714, were torn down. This allowed the city the possibility to expand. In 1859 a competition for a town plan was won by Idelfons Cerdà, an engineer rather than an architect. Cerdà's plan was an uncompromising grid of streets with three great avenues cutting across. Thus we have the layout of the present day Eixample (enlargement). Cerdà's stroke of genius was to cut the corners of each block at a 45º angle, to make small squares at the intersections which give light, space and air to what might have been an oppressive grid-iron. It was not until the end of the century that work seriously started on filling in the grid with buildings. Fate allowed the happy conjunction of rich patrons, architects of genius, and unsurpassed craftsmanship. In the years before and after the start of the 20th century, Barcelona produced its version of art nouveau - modernisme. Antoni Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner y Josep Puig i Cadafalch were the principal exponents of Catalán Modernism.
- The olympic city
From the designation of Barcelona as a city to host the 1992 Olympic Games, the city underwent profound changes in several of its districts. The changes were more evident in the district of Sants-Montjuïc, where the most important sports facilities were built and on the seafront: Barcelona, although hard to believe, lived with its back to the sea. With the Olympic Games, it opened completely to the Mediterranean.