Barcelona was founded at the end of the 1st century BC, when the Romans set up a colony called Barcino. At that time the city was inhabited by just one thousand people, and a large defensive wall was erected all around the city (some remains of the wall still stand in the historic centre). In the Middle Ages, Barcelona became the most important political and economic hub in the Western Mediterranean, although it faced a drawn-out struggle to defend its economic and political independence. In 1714, this struggle culminated when the city fell to the Bourbon armies.
Barcelona through the Ages
With the inception of the Industrial Revolution, in the mid-19th century, Barcelona embarked on a new stage of growth and cultural revival called the Renaixença, during which the Catalan language enjoyed a literary resurgence. The city’s expansion continued apace, with major urban transformation gradually spawning a new form of artistic expression within Barcelona society, Modernism (Modernisme in Catalan). The event that went the biggest way to shaping the city’s development at the time was without a doubt Ildefons Cerdà’s Eixample project. Another of the leading architects of the time was Antoni Gaudí, who designed a number of world-renowned buildings, including: the Sagrada Familia, the Casa Batlló and the Casa Milà (also known as "La Pedrera").
One of the major events of the 20th century was the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. After three years of fighting, this gave rise to the Franco dictatorship, which put an end to the freedom and rights the country’s citizens had enjoyed in the previous century. With the arrival of democracy in 1978, Barcelona was able to bounce back.
The 1992 Olympic Games and the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures helped revitalise Barcelona, and the city quickly became one of the world’s top tourist and cultural destinations.