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Barcelona is currently one of the most popular destinations for a trip. And with reason - whoever visits Barcelona should set his or her sights high! You'll find a summary of Barcelona's nicest districts and spots below.

The Rambla is Barcelona's most important street. It starts at Placa de Catalunya and ends at the harbour. It's lined with numerous small stalls where you can buy flowers, newspapers and all sorts of other things.

Lots of monuments, museums, shops and other sights of interest are located in the Gothic district Barri Gottic. Ths district comprises many small alleyways and as you wander through you'll get a taste of how life once was. If you want, there's enough to keep you occupied all day.

The 213 metre high Montjuic mountain offers beautiful parks, botanic gardens, palaces and a Greek theatre. The famous fountains designed by Charles Buigas with their music and colour organ are a real feast for the eye.

Barcelona has many restaurants, like those around the Placa de Catalunya, Barri Gottic and of course the Rambla. Beware of falling into the tourist trap! To avoid doing that, look at our personal selection of pleasant and exceptional restaurants in Barcelona.

You'll find lots of bars, cafes, discos, movie theatres and night clubs in and around Placa de Catalunya, the Rambla and the Paseo de Gracia. Bear in mind that entry prices to the bigger discos and clubs in Barcelona can be on the pricey side.

The best known department store is El Corte Ingles on the Placa de Catalunya. Many shops and a great produce market can be found on the Rambla. In and around Gran Via and Les Cortes Catalanes you'll find lots of modern shops with design goodies and antiques.

Thoughts of Barcelona automatically evoke thoughts of Antoni Gaudi. The architect and Barcelona are inseparable. Gaudi's most famous work, the Sagrada Familia cathedral remains unfinished, and it will be many years before it's completed.

History

The Roman settlement of Barcino was founded around 13 BC. The Romans ruled Spain for the next 600 years, and it is to this period that the city owes its language and culture.

During the 5th century, the city was occupied by the Visigoths, an important Germanic people who turned it into a major centre of trade and government. In the 7th century the city was captured and held by the the Moors until 801, when Charles the Great seized control. Barcelona blossomed. As a result of a tactical union between the Kingdom of Aragon and Barcelona in the 12th century, Barcelona developed into a major Mediterranean power, comparable to Venice and Genoa.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the city fell prey to political tension and unrest. Catalonia was occupied by Spain and the Catalan language was banned. Until 1778, Catalans were not allowed to trade. After that the region flourished again and the city regained its independence. In the second half of the 19th century Barcelona became an important political and economic centre. New districts were built as part of its expansion. Industry and economy flourished again and as a result of this, new modern ideologies entered the city.

The city's growth came to an abrupt end in 1936 with the Spanish civil war, which saw its conquest by the fascist dictator Franco. The autonomy that Barcelona and Catalonia had enjoyed ended. Catalan language and culture were banned, and anyone not obeying these directives was harshly punished. This oppression ended with Franco's death in 1975. Once more Spain had a king, Juan Carlos I, and Barcelona could develop freely again.

In 1992 Barcelona hosted the Olympic Games. The city underwent a major facelift. Barcelona has developed into an important modern city and is considered one of the European Union's most important cultural cities.