History - Barcelona was the capital of the
Visigothic empire for the period between 416 and 712.
The city was taken over by the Moors and later by
the Arabs. In 780 Charles the Great sent his son,
Louis, to Barcelona to subdue the city. After a long
siege, Louis took over Barcelona and it became the
capital of the Spanish. After the death of Charles
the Great, Barcelona fell into the hands
of the Arabs again and Barcelona started to flourish
as a commercial town under the reign of several independent
The 11th and 12th centuries consolidated Barcelona
as an important Mediterranean City.
The internationalization of trade by way of maritime
transportation was fundamental in the development
of 12th century Barcelona, and soon the city became
as influential as Genoa or Venice. The growth of the
city then and later was to be directly related to
the increasing importance of its port. There are still
some buildings from this prosperous period, such as
the romanesque style church of Sant Pau del Camp or
the chapel of Santa Llucia in the Cathedral.
1492, with the discovery of the Americas, King
Ferdinand and Queen Isabella shifted their
attention away from Barcelona and the Mediterranean
seaboard to the new opportunities rising on the Atlantic.
Barcelona was no longer the seat of the monarchy,
and Madrid once again became the capital of the new
Barcelona's situation worsened in the 17th and 18th
centuries with a Catalonian Revolt
against Spain, which originated in Barcelona, and
lead to over a decade of decline in wealth and population.
Then in 1702, during a struggle for succession to
the Spanish throne, Catalonia favored the Archduke
of Austria, while the rest of Spain supported the
Frenchman, Felipe of Anjou. When Felipe won out in
1714, all of Catalonia, including Barcelona was suppressed
culturally and politically.
Throughout Spain there was an economic recession
and a feeling of powerlessness, which brought out
a rebellion, led by Francisco Franco, and eventually
resulted in the Civil War. The Spanish Civil
War was the beginning of one of Spain’s
darkest periods and the Catalan national identity
was totally repressed. Catalonia stood by the legally
established republic, and in 1939, when Barcelona,
along with Madrid, fell, the war ended. Thus began
a long period of even greater repression of Catalonian
identity, as well as a stunt in economic, social,
and cultural growth for Barcelona.
Not until Franco’s death in 1975 and the new
Spanish constitution of 1977 did Catalonia regain
a measure of self government with the Estatut de Autonomia.
1992 Olympic Games produced the most
extensive changes to the city in all its history.
We can see and admire all the physical changes such
as parks, museums, roads, infrastructure; but even
more important is that which you can’t see but
you can sense: the pride and enthusiasm that Barcelona’s
people have regained and that they are able to transmit