Barcelona: 15 Things You Didn’t Know (Part 1)

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Barcelona is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean coast and the most visited city in Spain. Great food, outstanding architecture and long hours of sunshine await in Europe’s fifth most popular destination. Stay tuned for part two, coming soon!

Number Fifteen: The Sagrada Familia Will Be Completed in 2026

Construction for the Sagrada Familia began in 1882, and took an ambitious turn when architect Antonio Gaudí became involved in the project a year later. Gaudí’s neo-gothic architectural design proved not to be an easy or cheap task to carry out, and erection of the church was taking much longer than originally expected. Gaudí didn’t seem to be bothered by this, as he was quoted saying: “my client is not in a hurry.” When Gaudí passed away (he got tragically hit by a tram in 1926), less than 20% of the project was completed. By the time the Sagrada Familia is finally completed in 2026, it will have taken 144 years to be built.

Number Fourteen: Medieval Advertising

La Carassa is an architectural work from the 15th Century outlined by a sculpted face on the walls of the building. The sculpture, rather than serving artistic purposes, was a Medieval advertising sign that indicated the nearby presence of a brothel. Most of the population were illiterate, and a sculpted female face was something everyone could understand. The edifice holds a popular restaurant now.

Number Thirteen: ‘Perfume’ Was Filmed Here

Tom Tykwer’s cinematic masterpiece Perfume, about a murderer with an extraordinary sense of smell, was partially shot in the Spanish city. If you have seen the movie, you definitely remember the scene of Grenouille’s revolting birth. The sequence was filmed in Plaça de la Mercè. Two and a half tons of dead fish and a ton of meat were distributed around Barcelona’s Gothic neighborhood. According to residents and tourists in the area, the stench was so strong and nauseating it could be smelled for 6 miles.

Number Twelve: There Were No Beaches in Barcelona until 1992

With 4.5 km (2.7 miles) of coastline, Barcelona is considered to be the best beach city in Europe, and one of the best in the world. Before Barcelona staged the Olympics, in 1992, the seafront was a chunk of cement topped with factories and construction railways. The city experienced a drastic change in infrastructure, turning the seashore into a quality resort area.

Number Eleven: World Book Day’s Precursor

The international book celebration traces its origins back to Barcelona. Booksellers in Catalonia picked April 23rd as a day to celebrate literature and pay homage to authors Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, who both passed away on that day.

Number Ten: It’s Built with Octagonal Blocks

When looked at from a plane, Barcelona looks surprisingly peculiar, as most of the city is divided into octagonal blocks cut diagonally by a long avenue. Urban planner Ildefons Cerdà i Sunyer envisioned an unprecedented pattern designed to improve the lives of Barcelona’s residents by increasing ventilation, sunlight and green spaces. The project was carried out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Number Nine: 12th Most Visited City in the World

Despite Spain’s economic woes in the last few years, Barcelona remains a top touristic destination, welcoming holidaymakers from all over the world. Barcelona comes 12th on 2015’s ranking of the world’s most visited cities, before Rome, Milan and Amsterdam. Spain’s capital, Madrid, does not appear on the list.

Number Eight: Hercules ‘Founded’ the City

According to a popular legend, Barcelona was founded by divine Greek hero Hercules. The myth claims that Hercules set out on a Mediterranean adventure with Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece. Their ninth ship wrecked during a storm and washed up ashore on the Catalan coast. Hercules fell in love with the location and decided to settle a city there, which he named “Barca Nona” (“ninth boat.”) Stay tuned for part two, coming soon!

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