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Barcelona Attractions and Things to See

Barcelona is the capital and most populated city in Catalonia, the second biggest city in Spain, after Madrid, and the biggest metropolis on the Mediterranean coast, between the mouths of the Besos and Llobregat Rivers. It is one of the world's leading tourist, cultural and economic centers that influences its education, commerce, fashion, all the arts, entertainment, media and science that contribute to its standing as one of the world's global cities of major importance and significance. It has become a significant economic and financial center, with one of Europe's main Mediterranean ports and the Barcelona International Airport that welcomes some 30 million visitors or travelers each year.

It is the center of an inclusive highway system and high speed rail that links France with the country and later Portugal. It was the 12th most visited city in the world, and the 4th most visited in Europe, as well as being the most visited in the nation welcoming more than five million visitors each year. It had been founded as a Roman city, and then became capital of the Counts of Barcelona; eventually merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, becoming one of the most significant cities in the Crown of Aragon. It has been besieged numerous times during history, but is now a significant cultural center, rich cultural heritage and major tourist destination, with outstanding famous architectural works by Lluis Domenach i Montaner and Antoni Gaudi that are now UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Its history is fantastic, with two different legends about how it would begin. One involves Hercules, and how he would found it some four centuries before Rome was founded, and the other links its founding to the historical Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, that would name the city after Barcino, his family in the third century BC.

Because the city has such a long and impressive history, there is more than a plethora of sites to visit and enjoy, like the fact is contains almost fifty museums that span thousands of years, eras and different areas. The National Museum of Art of Catalonia houses a well known collection of Romanesque art, with the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art concentrating on post-1945 Spanish and Catalan works of arts. The Fundacio Antoni Tapies, Picasso Museum and the Fundacio Joan Miro house magnificent collections of these famous artists that are known the world over. Numerous museums focus on the fields of archaeology and history, like the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia, the City History Museum, the Barcelona Maritime Museum, the privately owned Egyptian Museum and the Museum of the History of Catalonia. Other unique museums include the Cosmocaixa science museum and the Erotic Museum of Barcelona.

The architecture of the city provides a marvelous walking adventure that offers the most beautiful buildings in the world, many that are hundreds of years old, like the Barri Gotic or Gothic quarter in the city's old center, with many dating from the medieval times, and even a few that date back to the Roman settlement of Barcelona. One particular architect, Antoni Gaudi, has many magnificent structures located throughout the city, but his best known work it the huge and as yet, unfinished church of the Sagrada Familia that has continuously been under construction since 1882, and is still being financed by private donors, with a current completion date of 2026.

Other historic buildings and monuments in this fabulous city include; the Medieval Church of Sant Pau del Camp, the Palau de la Musica Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau that was designed by Lluis Domenach i Montaner that is included in the UNESCO Heritage List in 1997, the Cathedral of St. Eulalia, the Arc de Triomf, the triumpal arch that was constructed in 1888, the Church of Santa Maria del Mar, the Forum Building, an outstanding example of contemporary architecture, the Gothic church of Santa Maria del Pi, the Columbus Monument and the Palau Reial Major, the medieval residence of the counts of Barcelona and the kings of Aragon.

The city has 68 municipal parks and seven magnificent beaches that helped to put the city in the first spot of the Top 10 Beaches in the world by National Geographic and enjoyed by the city dwellers and visitors as often as they can get there. With all the fantastic destinations to visit though, it might be difficult for visitors to get there and take in some rays, but if you do, it will surprise you about the differences in European beaches and those in the states.