12 Fascinating Barcelona Facts to Know Before You Go

These Barcelona facts will make your trip to the city even better, promise. It’s always good to know a bit of history and interesting info about the destinations you visit – just adds a bit more colour, y’know. 

These facts about Barcelona will give you a bit of background, so enjoy!

Facts about Barcelona

Barcelona is filled with complex history, stunning landscapes, unique culture, and strong local pride. Every year, millions of travellers make the journey to the capital city in Catalonia, and experience the wonder of one of Europe’s largest and most populated cities.

First fact about Barcelona: it has no shortage of sights to see, foods to try, and people to meet. Anyone can do a quick Google search and find endless hotspots to spend the day seeing. However, the city of Barcelona also has a host of interesting cultural and historical facts that will make your trip there much more interesting if you know them.

12 Barcelona Facts to Know Before You Go

Barceloneta Beach

– Fun fact about Barcelona – I love it there! 

Let’s take some time to talk about some fun facts about Barcelona that you should know, before you arrive. These Barcelona facts will help prepare you for the unique, one-of-a-kind culture and history of Barcelona.

1. Barcelona is even older than Rome 

The exact origins of the city of Barcelona are shrouded in a healthy bit of myth and speculation. However, many sites and ruins have been discovered around the city that date back to as far as 5,000BCE. This heavily indicates that settlers from around the Mediterranean were planting their roots in Barcelona far before the city of Rome began to rise.

The legends say that the city of Barcelona was founded by the hero Hercules of antiquity; however many believe a more probable founder would have been the historic general Hamilcar Barca.

2. The Eiffel Tower was originally for Barcelona

During the 1888 World Exposition of Barcelona, designer Gustave Eiffel had planned to place his famous tower in the city of Barcelona. However, the city rejected the bid, supposedly afraid that the tower would ruin the skyline of the city and become an eyesore for visitors.

Panorama view of barcelona city and sagrada familia at dusk time,Spain

Had this not happened, the Eiffel Tower very well could have been a famous monument in Barcelona, instead of Paris.

Imagine!


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3. FC Barcelona has the largest football stadium in Europe

Football is the most popular sport in the world, by a longshot; and one of the most celebrated and decorated football teams in the entire world is FC Barcelona (Barça).

Fun fact about Barcelona: Camp Nou is the name of the team’s home stadium, and it’s the largest football stadium in all of Europe. Camp Nou has a capacity of a staggering 100,000 visitors; that is nearly 10,000 more seats than the second largest stadium in Europe at Wembley.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 1, 2014: Aerial view of Camp Nou - largest stadium of Barcelona

– One of the top facts about Barcelona: Camp Nou is the biggest football club in Europe!

It’s no secret that Barcelona residents love their football, and show up en masse to support their beloved FC Barcelona. I’ve been in the city when there’s a match on, and honestly, even the streets are crazy – I can’t imagine what the grounds are like. 

4. There are 22 Michelin starred restaurants in Barcelona 

Spain is known as one of the food capitals of the world. Many travel to the heart of Catalonia just to experience the local dishes, unique cuisine, and exotic chef creations all by themselves.

So, it should come as no surprise that the city of Barcelona is home to more than 20 Michelin star-rated restaurants, and some of the world’s most decorated master Chefs; such as Joan Roca and Cristian Escribà. If you are in the mood for world class dining, the city of Barcelona has it in excess. You can check out all the Michelin-starred restaurants in Barcelona here

5. Barcelona is the only city to hold a Royal Gold Medal for architecture 

If you’re into architecture, then the city of Barcelona is in a class of its own. The Royal Institute of British Architects has been awarding groups of, or individual, architects for their achievements since 1848. This prestigious Gold Medal carries a weight behind it that indicates international acclaim for achievement in architecture masterwork.

Barri Gothic Quarter and Bridge of Sighs in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Barcelona is the only city that has ever been given this award as a whole, rather than as an individual. The stunning Art Nouveau of the city is something to be lauded, and this carries the pride of the Royal Gold Medal all by itself.

One of the most interesting facts about Barcelona hey? 


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6. The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is still unfinished

The world-famous work of architect Antoni Gaudi is lauded as one of the most ambitious projects in history – the Sagrada Familia. The famous Basilica began construction in 1882, and to this day has still not been completed.

BARCELONA, SPAIN -MARCH 06: Sagrada Familia on MARCH 06, 2015: La Sagrada Familia - the impressive cathedral designed by architect Gaudi, which is being build since March 19, 1882 and is not finished.

– Top Barcelona facts: the Sagrada Familia has taken years to build!

At almost 140 years old, this means that the massive Basilica de la Sagrada Familia has taken longer to complete than even the great pyramids of Giza (which egyptologists believe were completed in 10-20 years). Currently there are plans to finish the structure by 2026, just in time to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the death of the original architect; who is himself even buried inside the Basilica. 

It’s a worrying fact about Barcelona that this pandemic is going to delay the construction even further. 

The Sagrada Familia is one of the most incredible buildings I’ve ever been in – here’s why I’d definitely recommend you pay the money to go inside, rather than admire from the outside. 


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7. There are 2 official languages in Barcelona

Spain is broken up into 17 different regions that operate autonomously, known as ‘comunidades autónomas’. Catalonia is one of these regions, of which Barcelona is the capital. The region of Catalonia has its own unique language called Catalonian.

A major misconception is that Catalonian is simply a dialect of Spanish; this is not true at all.

Catalonian is a completely independent language, and will be featured on all of the street signs and restaurant menus, as well as public transport. If you’re going to Barcelona expecting to speak some Spanish, think again!

Many locals defer to their native Catalonian in their everyday activities and business. In fact, speaking only Catalonian is a way for the Catalans in the city to maintain their independence. 

8. Barcelona wan’t known as a ‘beach city’ until 1992

Many world travellers make the trip to Barcelona simply for the pleasure of spreading out on the white sand Catalonia beaches. However, this reputation for being a ‘beach city’ did not exist prior to the 1992 Olympic games. Knowing what we know now – this seems like one of the craziest facts about Barcelona. 

Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona with colorful sky at sunrise

The city originally operated as a popular port city for cargo vessels, and factories. In fact, many locals say that before the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona was a city that always ‘had it’s back to the sea’. It wasn’t until the city won the bid to host the games, that city planners decided to clean up the beach areas and turn them into the beautiful scenic tourist destinations we all now know.

The project was so massive, in fact, that even most of the white sand on a few of the beaches was imported and placed there artificially!

9. Barcelona is home to the largest Metropolitan Park in the world 

The city of Barcelona is known for its parks, and in fact is famous for having nearly 10% of the entire city dedicated to parks in general. However, the world famous Parc de Collserola is the single largest metropolitan park in the world. At more than 84 sq km in size, the Parc de Collserola is more than 22 times the size of Manhattan’s Central Park.

This is truly staggering once you decide to take a morning jog through it!

10. La Rambla is a combination of 5 streets

The famous tree-lined street that runs through the Gothic Quarter in central Barcelona is home to markets, shops, restaurants, and no shortage of stunning architecture.

However, many who visit the city for the first time might become confused when trying to navigate it, or use Google Maps. That is because the famous La Rambla, or La Ramblas, is actually a combination of 5 separate streets. These are named:

  • Rambla de Sant Josep
  • Rambla dels Estudis
  • Rambla de Canaletes
  • Rambla de Santa Mònica
  • Rambla dels Caputxins

It’s easy to get confused, if you don’t know that the famous pedestrian pathway is actually a hodge-podge of much smaller streets collectively. Have fun and hang on to your wallet!

11. Barcelona is one of the most eco-friendly cities in the world

The city of Barcelona, and in fact the population of the city as a whole, is truly committed to future sustainability. This commitment reflects in their public transportation, accommodations, and even their food service industry.

Aerial view over Passeig de Colom or Columbus avenue, La Barceloneta and Port Vell marina from Christopher Columbus monument in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Barcelona City was named the world’s first ‘Biosphere World Class Destination’ because of this. If you are looking to visit a city dedicated to creating an eco-friendly atmosphere and sustainable future, Barcelona can’t be beat!

12. Barcelona is the home of 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Barcelona is famous for breathtaking sights as well as sites; 9 of which are protected historical monuments by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – UNESCO.

Remember the famous Antoni Gaudi mentioned above, the Sagrada Familia? This is only one of of the 9 UNESCO sites in Barcelona, an incredible 7 of them designed by him.

barcelona for 3 days

When you visit Barcelona you’re visiting a city that is known for its history, culture, and stunning design – of which Antoni Gaudi was the largest contributor in the city’s history.

1. Sagrada Família

2. Palau de la Música Catalana (not Gaudi)

3. Park Güell

4. Casa Batlló

5. Hospital de Sant Pau (not Gaudi)

6. La Pedrera/Casa Milà

7. Palau Güell

8. The Crypt of Colonia Güell

9. Casa Vicens

Facts about Barcelona 

Barcelona is one of the most visited, and travelled cities in the whole of Europe, and for good reason. Those who make the trip are always astounded by the overwhelming beauty, welcoming locals, and mouth-watering cuisine.

Barcelona Park Guell

Barcelona was the first stop on an incredible four-month backpacking trip around Europe in my 20s. I instantly fell in love with the city and when I look at photos from that trip, it warms my heart. I visited again with friends, and then, lucky for my, my brother moved there and met his now wife. 

I’ve visited the city over 10 times, and can’t wait to go back when all of ‘this’ is over. It’s such a cool city, and there’s so much to see and do. I’ve really enjoyed learning these Barcelona facts, and I hope they’ll add a bit more depth to your Barcelona trip, or knowledge. 

The culture of Barcelona is truly one-of-a-kind. Take me back, now!


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