This is the capital city of the autonomous community and the second-largest city in Spain in terms of population (50% of the population of Catalonia). The municipality of Barcelona has 1.5 million inhabitants and stretches across 101 km². Its metropolitan area is the sixth-largest urban agglomeration of the EU. As it was once the capital city of the County of Barcelona, it is usually referred to as the County City (Ciudad Condal).
Barcelona has witnessed various world events that have contributed to the make-up of the city and its international importance. The most relevant have been the Universal Expo of 1888, the International Expo of 1929, the Summer Olympic Games of 1992 and the Universal Forum of Cultures 2004. It is also seat of the secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean. La Fira, the Barcelona fair ground, organises numerous exhibitions, salons, congresses and fairs for professionals, some of which rank among the best in the world.
Today, Barcelona is known as a global city owing to its cultural, financial, commercial and tourist importance. It has one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean and is also a relevant point of communication between Spain and France owing to the motorway connections and high-speed train. Another important gate to the city, especially for goods, is the Port of Barcelona, one of the most important Mediterranean ports in Europe in terms of passenger and goods transport. Thanks to its proximity to the city centre, it has also become a port for cruise ships.
Barcelona is the only city in the world with nine buildings that have been designated World Heritage Sites. La Pedrera, Park Güell, Palau Güell, Palau de la Música Catalana, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Sagrada Família, Batlló House, Vicens House and the Crypt of La Colonia Güell.
Its most interesting attractions include La Ciutat Vella (old town), made up mainly of the Gothic Quarter (Cathedral, Palau de la Generalitat, Palau del Ayuntamiento), La Ribera, mediaeval streets, La Rambla and El Raval. The Park of Montjuic, the Monastery of Pedralbes and the Aquarium, situated in the port of Barcelona, are other examples of its tourist attractions. Montserrat is a rocky massif that is traditionally considered to be the most important and significant mountain in Catalonia. It is situated 50 km northwest of Barcelona.
Modernist architecture, especially the work of the architect Antoni Gaudí: El Palau and Park Güell, Batlló House, La Sagrada Familia, Vicens House. Intense colours, curved lines, sculptural facades and the evocative spaces created by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona contain the personality of a city of fascinating imagination. Gaudí said that a work of art had to be seductive and universal. And that is the mark he left on Barcelona.