AOL Travel

Barcelona History

Read the pages of Barcelona history and you'll find that the city was once much smaller than it is today (its borders were defined by its Roman conquerers). Founded in the 3rd century BC, the city was once comprised almost entirely of the area now known as the Barri Gòtic neighborhood. After more than ten centuries of Roman rule, the city fell first under Visigoth rule, and later Muslim rule in the 8th century. In 1137, it once again changed hands—the Crown of Aragon merged with the ruling group of Barcelona and added Barcelona to its ever-expanding territory (which included Naples, Sicily and Athens). Madrid became the seat of power in Spain, and Barcelona began its decline in importance. Throughout all of the changes, the city held fast to its Catalan heritage, and remains a stronghold of Catalonian culture and heritage. In 1936 a failed military coup attempt by General Francisco Franco against the Popular Front government led to the Spanish Civil War and several decades of turmoil. Franco’s fascist regime gained control and he instituted a policy of suppression, which included suppressing the voice of Catalonian culture and language. Franco ruled until his death in 1975 and it wasn’t until the late 70s that Spain began moving toward democracy. Today, Barcelona enjoys a revitalized look and feel thanks in part to the multimillion dollar refurbishment it underwent while hosting the 1992 summer Olympic games. The city continues to grow and thrive thanks in part to its strong textile and design tradition.