Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and has a population of 1.6 million inhabitants (3.2 million inhabitants adding the metropolitan area). Its excellent location on the shores of the Mediterranean, its gentle climate and its open, cosmopolitan character make the Catalan capital an extraordinary place to live.
It is currently recognized as a global city due to its importance in the spheres of culture, finance, business and tourism. Its port is one of the foremost in the Mediterranean and the city is a transport hub between Spain and France.
Harmoniously integrating tradition and modernity, Barcelona combines the architectural evidence of its Roman and Medieval past with both Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau) –with Gaudí as the leading exponent of this architectural style– and gems of contemporary architecture such as the Torre Agbar. Its gradual evolution has made it a focal point for architecture lovers.
Barcelona, the Southern Gate to Europe, hosts one of the largest university communities in Europe, made up of 200.000 students and more than 15.000 professors in seven universities offering a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
In its 500 years of university life, Barcelona universities have achieved a high international rankings position and most of them have been recognized as Campus of International Excellence (CEI), a distinction that wants to promote Spanish universities in Europe.
In addition, its potential has made it a magnet for new trends from around the world. Design, music, fashion, art and cinema professionals are part and parcel of this dynamic city.
A broad offer in culture, sports, leisure and nature activities rounds out the spectrum of opportunities. A perfect place to combine quality academic activity with a quality social life.
Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spain with a millennial history and a language of its own –Catalan–, which is the official language together with Spanish. With 7.5 million inhabitants, it is a densely populated, highly developed area that leads the Spanish economy and is a benchmark European region as well.
Catalonia is an industrially active and entrepreneurial land that promotes the work ethic as a value inherent to productive capacity. These characteristics, together with quality infrastructures and services, make Catalonia an ideal destination for the business world.
In the university field, Catalonia is a reflection of its society: multidisciplinary, multidimensional, multilingual, where citizens from all over the world share experiences.
The academic offer includes a wide range of educational pathways, which include around 1.000 official university degrees belonging to the different branches of knowledge: Arts and Humanities, Science, Health Sciences, Social and Legal Sciences, and Architecture and Engineering.
Catalonia has been and continues to be a land of immigration, and over the course of history it has been in contact with all the peoples of the Mediterranean. This multiculturalism has made it a dynamic area with a great deal of economic, social and cultural influence.
Moreover, its geographic wealth and diversity make Catalonia a place to enjoy year-round. The Pyrenees, Costa Brava, Barcelona, Montserrat, Ebre Delta and the Plain of Lleida are some of the most emblematic areas, allowing all sorts of leisure, cultural, sports and gastronomic activities.
For more information, see Catalonia, Generalitat de Catalunya (Generalitat [Government] of Catalonia).
Culture and leisure
Barcelona has a broad cultural, leisure and entertainment offer that has helped position it as one of the most visited cities in the world. Throughout the year there is a full agenda with exhibits, festivals, festivities and traditions. If you would like to be informed of culture and events in Barcelona, we recommend the Barcelona Centre Universitari (BCU) agenda.
Museums and Exhibits
The main museums in the city have important collections covering a vast range of artistic styles. Apart from their permanent collections, they also host top-notch temporary exhibits. On the first Sunday of every month, some museums are free.
- MNAC: National Art Museum of Catalonia
- MACBA: Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum
- CCCB: Barcelona Contemporary Culture Centre
- Picasso Museum
- Fundació Joan Miró
- Fundació Antoni Tàpies
Music and Theatre
The performing arts have a strong tradition in this city. The cultural scene keeps a fast pace, offering music, theatre, concerts and festivals throughout the year.
- The main concert halls in the city are: L'Auditori, Palau de la Música and the opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu. For major concerts, there is also the Palau Sant Jordi stadium and other sports facilities in the city.
- Warm weather brings important music festivals as well, such as Primavera Sound , Sònar, the Grec Festival, BAM, etc.
- Insofar as theatre, you can enjoy major and small productions year round. Musicals are mostly showing at theatres along Avinguda Paral·lel.
Festivities and Traditions
Festivities and traditions mark the character of each culture. The main festivities on the Barcelona calendar are the following:
- 6 January - the Epiphany or Three Kings Day
- 23 April, Sant Jordi (Saint George's Day, a day of books and roses)
- 24 June, Sant Joan (Saint John's Day, summer solstice, bonfire and firecracker celebrations)
- 11 September, la Diada, national commemorative day of Catalonia
- 24 September, la Mercè, patron saint of Barcelona
- 25 and 26 December, Christmas and the day after, i.e. Sant Esteve
The city has two Division-One football (i.e. soccer) teams: the world-renowned FC Barcelona (better known as Barça) and theRCD Espanyol (better known as l'Espanyol). Furthermore, since the '92 Olympic Games, Barcelona has become an international reference in hosting world-class sports events.
The city also organises many popular sports events in which you can participate, such as the Cursa dels Bombers or the Cursa dels Nassos, both 10 km road races. Find out about all such events and activities on the Barcelona City Council's sports website.