About Art and Design in Barcelona
Barcelona is as bohemian a city as you could imagine. Gaudí's hallucinogenic forms nestle between other examples of Catalan Modernism, and the centre of the city creative types meet to discuss new ventures around the bars and cafés of El Raval. The serenity of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) contrasts with crews of skateboarders who regard the city as ideal for their pursuit.
The summer sees the population on top form as they congregate to take part in traditional festivals such as the Festes de Gràcia or modern music gatherings like Primavera Sound and Sónar.
Catalan customs are as numerous as they are charming. To pick out one, you'd be well-advised to join in with a 'vermut' on a Sunday afternoon, consisting of vermouth with soda, and olives, tinned seafood and some meat and cheese on the side. Head down to a sunny terrace facing the beach in the old fishing neighbourhood of Barceloneta to make the most of it.
The history of Barcelona is inextricably linked to the fate of the Catalan empire, who finally fell to the Bourbon Crown on September 11th, 1714, after a fourteen-month siege. Catalonia lost its independence on that day, and many locals feel fervently that they should once again be autonomous from the Spanish state. The influx of workers from the rest of Spain in the mid-to-late 1900s has ensured that there will never be a solution to this problem that satisfies everyone.
Politics & Economy
Political parties fall into four categories, the left and right, those in favour of independence and those loyal to Spain. Currently in power are the centre-right Catalan nationalist CiU party.
Spain's economic troubles are well documented, but Barcelona remains an economically-powerful centre of trade, manufacture and tourism.
Dalí, Picasso, Miró and Tàpies are internationally-celebrated artists and whose work is on permanent display around the city. The outrageous Teatre-Museu Dalí is well worth a day trip, and each of the others has a museum named in their honour.
These days, Barcelona's most recognized brand worldwide must be its football team, whose star player Lionel Messi has been voted the world's best player for the last four years. His teammate, Gerard Piqué forms one half of the countries most glamourous couples and recently had a child with his girlfriend, the singer Shakira.
The nearby Circuit de Catalunya forms part of the FIA Formula One World Championship, which attracts motoring fans both to races and the frequent testing that takes place there.
The Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture (CCCB) hosts exhibitions, concerts, debates and film festivals thoughout the year.
Holidays & Festivals
The annual festival of Barcelona is known as La Mercè after its patron saint. During the few days leading up to 24th September, free concerts are held in squares around the city.
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