Come let Barcelona enchant you. Whether it is the salty sea air, the sweep of mountains in the distance, or the romance and excitement of Las Ramblas, where else can you marvel at Gaudi’s whimsical architectural genius while embracing the laid-back Spanish lifestyle?
A seaport on the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is the capital of Barcelona Province and of the autonomous region of Catalonia. Catalonia has a surface area of 31,930 square kilometers and more than six million inhabitants. This makes Catalonia a region with a fairly high population density (188 inhabitants per square kilometer). It has a long historical tradition, interesting cities and towns, a great architectural heritage, a wide range of services, and a strong personality of its own. For more information about Catalonia, visit the Generalitat de Catalunya website.
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain with a population of approximately 1.6 million, and it is the principal industrial and commercial center of the country. Barcelona enjoys one of the largest university “communities” in Europe. There are approximately 200,000 students, 11,000 professors and six different universities.
The city’s architectural, artistic, and cultural heritage bears witness to its 2,000 years of history. Its close proximity to other European destinations, its Mediterranean climate, and its cosmopolitan character make it a privileged city.
Barcelona is on the cutting edge of fashion, architecture, food, style, and music. It was home to some of the greatest artists of the Twentieth Century, including Picasso, Joan Miró, and Gaudí, so there is a world of art to explore. In addition to the rich art scene, you can enjoy theater productions, concerts of all kinds, and dance performances. There is also an array of cafés, bars, restaurants, and discotecas.
Much of Barcelona's social life takes place on the streets. Friends will often meet to dar un paseo (take a walk) or tomar una copa (have a drink) at a local bar. People sit for hours over one cup of coffee in a café, and dinner at restaurants can last well past midnight—conversation is an art form among Spanish people.
Finally, Barcelona boasts a unique multicultural flavor where Spanish and Catalan cultures mingle to create a cosmopolitan city striving for a separate Catalonian identity. Catalan, which is commonly spoken in Barcelona, is a Romance language that emerged at around the same time as French and Spanish. Today there are nine million Catalan speakers.
This famous park was named after Usebi Guell, its original architect. Guell wanted to create a residential housing area with the land; however, Guell's protege Antoni Gaudi wanted a beautiful garden and park. Gaudi ultimately designed the park, its grand staircase, and the main terrace. The breathtaking views at the top allow one to see as far as the Mediterranean Sea.
This Catholic cathedral has been under construction since 1882. Originally, the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar began to construct the building with a neo-gothic style. Antoni Gaudi took over construction one year later and changed the design to a modernist style. The cathedral boasts of 18 beautiful towers, the famous Navitity Facade and Passion Facade, and fabulous views from the top. The anticipated completion date is 2026.
Since the 16th century, Las Ramblas has been the place in Barcelona. Las Ramblas, one long, continuous street, has numerous exciting opportunities for both students and locals. An opera house, museum of contemporary arts, street market, and more are all located on Las Ramblas.
"[I love] the walk from Iglesia de Santa Maria del Mar to the beach down to the harbor and ending up at La Rambla. There are so many monuments along the beach and in the Born, so I would walk around there any chance I got." -Laura H., University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
This popular meeting place is situated in the heart of the Bari Gotic area, surrounded by department stores and modern shops. Known for its benches, ornamental gardens and fountains, the Plaça Catalunya is easily recognized as the place where all roads meet. Taxis and tour buses line the perimeter while locals and visitors alike assemble in the square, making it a hot spot for conversation and people-watching.
This enchanting palace and historic monument was built for the 1929 International Exhibition, which was held on the flank of Montjuïc. The original designer, Catalan architect Josep Puig i Cadalfach, was removed from the project by then dictator Primo de Rivera and the design was completed by architects Enric Català and Pedro Cendoya in a more 'nationalist' style. The expansive structure is now home to the National Art Museum of Catalonia.
What is it really like to live in Barcelona? Check out our virtual tour of all the places you’ll come to know and love when you study abroad there—GO!