20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com
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20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona

Barcelona is famous for its architecture, its year-round sunshine and lively Mediterranean vibes has such an interesting past and culture that has helped shape this vibrant and popular city. If you are thinking about making Barcelona your next travel destination you may be interested in knowing a bit more about it. 

Here are 20 interesting facts about Barcelona.

Did You Know...

#1  It is older than Rome

Many historians would say that the origins of Barcelona were founded by Hercules, 400 years before Rome was built.

#2   It is the most visited city in Spain

 

Barcelona comes 4th on 2019’s ranking of Europe’s most visited cities and 17th for the world with 9.09 million people.

20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com

#3   It is the biggest city on the Mediterranean

Barcelona covers an area of 101.4 sq km and has a population of 5.515 million (2018), which makes it the largest city on the Mediterranean Sea and second largest in Spain, after Madrid.

#4   It is the biggest and busiest cruise port in Europe

The Port of Barcelona has 7 cruise terminals that greeted 3.2 million visitors in 2019, and was named the top polluted port in Europe.

#5   It has artificial beaches 

The city announced the decision to build artificial beaches ahead of the 1992 Olympics. Now, the city regularly finds itself in top 10 beaches in the world because of its stunning 4.5 km coastline. 

20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com

#6   It has the busiest street in Spain

The most walked on street in Spain is Portal de l’Angel where on average 3,500 people walk this street every hour. This city has 130 hectors (equivalent to 260 football fields) devoted exclusively to pedestrians.

#7   It is actually 5 streets and not the singular La Rambla

The most famous street in Barcelona is the 2km La Rambla, a large boulevard made up of 5 streets (Rambla de Canaletes, Rambla dels Estudis, Rambla de Sant Josep, Rambla dels Caputxins and the Rambla de Santa Mònica). It was once an open stream designed to filter water from the mountains surrounding Barcelona to the sea.

20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com

#8   It has street corners shaped to allow for the trams turning 

In the neighbourhood of Eiample has a perfect grid pattern making it easy for navigation. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the corners of each block of buildings are cut off, making them octagons rather than squares. This smart design was factored to allow for the city’s trams to be able to turn corners safely.

#9   It has 12 abandoned metro stations beneath the city

Between subway and commuter trains there are 12 abandoned underground stations that are thought to be haunted. In 2011, a special tour has commenced that takes you to these metro stations. 

#10   It has the highest number of car accidents in the world

Driving conditions in Barcelona is considered among the worst in the world due to the number of accidents occurring in the city – one in every 19 seconds during the week and one in every 10 seconds on the weekend.

20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com

#11   It has 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites

There are 7 buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, they are: Parque Guell, Palau Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and Crypt in Colonia Guell. And, 2 non-Gaudi buildings – Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau.

#12   It has taken more than 150 years for the Sagrada Família to be built 

This unique and one-of-a-kind temple is the visionary work of architect Antoni Gaudí. The work began in 1866 and is expected to be completed in 2026.  

20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com

#13   The Eiffel Tower was pitched to be built in Barcelona  

The city of Barcelona rejected the proposal by architect Gustave Eiffel  to have the Eiffel Tower built in their city. They believed the tower would be an unsightly addition to the city’s landscape. 

#14   It has the largest football stadium in Europe

The Camp Nou stadium, home to FC Barcelona, is the largest in Europe and 3rd largest in the world. It can seat almost 1 million spectators and is considered one of the most popular attractions in city, along with its FC Barcelona Museum – one of the city’s most visited museums.

20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com

#15   It has 55 museums

Barcelona has a wide variety of cultural, historic, arts and science museums, and it even has a museum dedicated to funeral carriages in all of Europe.

#16   It has 68 parks

More than 10 percent of the city is covered by urban parks. And, it is home to Parc de Collserola which is one of the largest metropolitan parks in the world. With an area of 84.62 square km it is 22 times larger than Central Park in NYC.

20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com

#17  It is the only city to have been awarded the Royal Gold Medal for architecture

It is the first and only city to receive this honour in recognition of its substantial contribution to international architecture.

#18   The real story behind the Columbus Monument 

The monument was built in 1888 for the World Exposition and ever since then there have been conflicting interpretations about what location Columbus is pointing to. It’s not America, but it could be towards the sea or towards India (his original destination before he discovered America) or towards Genoa, this hometown.

20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com

#19   It has its own version of Valentine’s Day

Saint George Day (or Día de Sant Jordi) is a national holiday. It also is referred to as Day of the Rose (or Día de la Rosa) and Book Day (or Día del Libro). The tradition is to exchange gifts between loved ones – a man gives a rose to a woman as a sign of love and a woman gives a book as a sign for eternal love in return. 

And, lastly did you know...

#20   It is threatening to limit the number of tourists 

Barcelona’s mayor announced earlier in 2019 the intent to reduce the number of tourists allowed into Barcelona by cutting cruise ships and limiting the expansion of its airport. In the last 15 years, the city’s visitors have increased 4 times, and for a such a small city with no room to expand this has had some negative impacts.

So I am curious – how many of these facts did you know, which was your favourite, and more importantly, what did I miss? Please share.

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20 Fascinating Facts about Barcelona | DreamPlanExperience.com
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21 Comments

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Annemarie for taking the time to read my blog! How fortunate you would be if you might live there one day. I didn’t realize it either when I was on the beach, it was only afterwards that I learned about it! They are pretty spectacular!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you for your comment Sandra. I was surprised by that too. I consider Barcelona as a very walkable city, it is really getting in and out of the city that you see so many cars. Glad to hear it’s one of your favourite cities.

  • Emma Riggs

    Wow, Barcelona actually has artificial beaches. Who knew?! I’m oddly fascinated with the underground subway stations. I can see the allure in doing the tour, but going underground with haunted stories going around.. count me out.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      I completely agree with you Emma, I am fine with hearing about the ghost stories but don’t want to encounter anything myself! And definitely wouldn’t have know that Barceloneta Beach was once concrete and rock. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Danik

    I been to Barcelona a few times and to the two facts which got me was that Barcelona is older than Roma. I thought Barcelona was a modern city (about 300 years at least). And working in the rail industry, the 12 unused metro stations…didnt know that either. So I learnt something new today. 😀

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks for your comments Danik. Seeing that you are in the rail industry, yes you might be interested in knowing that it was simply due to changing their routes. Stories began to surface that it was haunted. Now they offer tours. You will have to check it out!

  • Samantha Karen

    I love Barcelona and didn’t know almost any of these facts. For one, I had no idea it had artificial beaches, and that it has the busiest street in Spain. So interesting to read and learn about!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you for your comment Samantha. I was surprised too that there beaches never existed before the Olympics. It’s hard to image it!

  • Michael Hodgson

    I did not know that Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain though that really should not come as a surprise simply because of all the cruise ships that visit. And because of that, I did know that the mayor of Barcelona along with other politicians are looking at ways to limit the number of tourists that are, by all accounts, overwhelming the city’s residents. Limiting cruise ships is certainly one way to do that and Barcelona would not be alone in looking at that option. Cruise ship visits have become a scourge for many European cities disgorging guests like locusts and overwhelm a few streets and popular sites, racing for Instagram shots, don’t spend any money and leave.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Michael for your comment and yes, that was indeed the last fact shared that the mayor is looking at the port and airport restrictions. The other negative impact is that housing becomes scare forcing locals to leave due to the high number of short term rental properties. Travel sustainability is definitely a hot topic.

  • Delphine

    There are so many superlatives for Barcelona! I would love to spend a week there. I am very curious of the completion work of the Sagrada Familia, it stayed uncompleted for so long! And with 55 museums, I would need more than a week!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Delphine for your comment. You are right, I stayed for a week and definitely didn’t get to see everything there was to see. I know so many people who visit for a day or two and can’t imagine how they manage to even scratch the surface!

  • Patricia Pagenel

    I only spent a few days in Barcelona, and that was for work so basically I only had a couple of hours here and there for proper exploration. But I really enjoyed the few moments in the city. That’s an incredible number of UNESCO sites in one place, let alone one city! But what surprising was the car accidents! Wonder what is the cause of this. Funny post in any case!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Patricia for your comment. I wrote this for all those people who love to read about those interesting facts. A little bit of a departure from my normal posts!
      Yes, Barcelona is full of architectural wonders, so it’s no wonder that it has that many UNESCO World Heritage sites in one city. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Tania Muthusamy

    I love learning interesting facts about cities, to help appreciate the places better. I’m pleased to hear there is an estimated completion date of 2026 for the beautiful Sagrada Familia Church. Although, I’ll believe it when I see it, given it’s long drawn out history. I’ve not heard of the Royal Gold Medal for architecture before, but it certainly is well deserved for Barcelona. It’s unfortunate that it has the highest number of car accidents in the world. I hope to go back to Barcelona soon, such a fabulous city.

  • Natasha

    Loved Barcelona even though we had really bad luck there. Had no idea about some of these facts, abandoned metro stations sound like they would be interesting to explore for some urbex photography.

    PS. Love your website design. Very clean on mobile!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Natasha for your feedback, I am happy that you enjoyed the mobile experience of my site and that you learned a couple of new tidbits about the city.

  • Nic

    Such an interesting city and a great post too. Some of these I did know but most I didn’t. Some of them are really cool and surprising even down to the beaches, that I would never had expected. I love design quirks like the curved streets for the trams, that kind of forward thinking always makes a city run much smoother. I would also love to explore the tunnels!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Nic for dropping by and commenting on the post. I love the thoughtful design too, and surprised other city planners haven’t borrowed this idea. It also makes for an interest aerial shot.

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