Well known as a cultural centre, Barcelona boasts splendid architecture, monuments, historical sites, natural resources, beaches and much more. It is a very modern, multicultural, cosmopolitan city. Almost 4.5 million people live in the Barcelona metropolitan area and it is the biggest city in Spain. The city enjoys a prime location, bathed by the sea and has excellent transport links with the rest of Europe. Some people say that Barcelona is Spain's most European city because it is always open to new ideas and trends.
The Catalan capital is a modern, cosmopolitan city, but has also inherited many centuries of history. There are monuments of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance periods and before, but most characteristically is what has been built during the last 100 years. Though the 1992 Olympics focused the world's attention on the city, Antoni Gaudi's wonderfully and weird architecture demonstrates how long Barcelona has been at the vanguard of all that is new and different.
Autumn is the perfect time to visit Barcelona when there is less less heat, fewer tourists and the city's biggest street party, Festes de la Merce, on September 24. The city continues to evolve as a centre of design, as a gastronomic powerhouse, as an educational and business centre and potentially the 'coolest' city in the world. And one the world never tires of visiting.
Although Barcelona is a large city, it is easy to get around on public transport and on foot. You can reach any point in the city by metro, bus and taxi. The era of low-cost airlines, plus the good value at hotels and restaurants, has made Barcelona the European weekender capital.
The area around the Catalunya Place, including the city's historical centre includes the Passeig de Gracia, the Rambla de Catalunya and the upper half of the Diagonal avenue is the main commercial area of the city. "La Rambla", a pedestrian street, is the best place to watch people go by, to stroll or simply relax. Also, here you can find dozens of outdoor cafes. Nearby is 'Placa Real', with plenty of bars and restaurants, and 'Palau Guell', built by Antoni Gaudi in his undulating art-nouveau style.
Barcelona's inhabitants are open and welcoming. The people of Barcelona speak Catalan, their own language, and Spanish. Many of them also understand a little English and French.
While it is perfectly legal in Spain to be naked in public (except for sexual reasons), Barcelona is clamping down on people in the city that they consider inadequately dressed. This even includes men not wearing shirts !!! Presumably this bye law does not apply to Barcelona's beaches.
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