The History of Barcelona
The first traces of civilization around Barcelona go back to the end of the Neolithic Age (from 2000 to 1500 B.C.). However, it wasn't until the 6th and 5th Century B.C. that the city actually began to take on the typical characteristics of a larger settlement as an Iberian village. During the Second Punic War the Carthaginians gained control of the city, and it was re-founded by Amilcar Barca, Hanibal's father.
After the defeat of the Carthaginians during the rise of the Romans, the city was renamed as Julia Augusta Paterna Faventia Barcino in 218 B.C. In its early days, Barcino took the form of a military outpost, although its growing commercial trade soon became the driving force of the city. By the 3rd Century A.D. its population reached 8,000 inhabitants.
The arrival of the Visigoths occurred in the 5th Century, when Barcelona was made into the capital of the southern Visigoth Empire for a short time.
In the 8th Century the city was conquered by the Muslim governor Al-Hurr, but was retaken by Christians when the Carolingians took over in 801.
The area continued to be under heavy pressure from the Muslim Empire until, in 985, it fell to the troops of the Muslim general Al-Mansur. After this takeover the city was almost completely destroyed.
Borrel II began the reconstruction of the city, giving way to a more prosperous period in Barcelona's history. During this period the city stood out as an important settlement in the Crown of Aragon. Barcelona flourished and came to be one of the main powers in the 13th and 14th Centuries, competing with the cities of Genoa and Venice.
A downturn began in the 15th Century and was prolonged throughout the following centuries. Tension from the dynastic union with Castille (which took place due to the marriage between Fernando de Aragón and Isabel de Castilla) reached its peak with the Catalan Revolt (1640-1659) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), after which Catalonia lost its self-rule.
An economic recovery that began towards the end of the 18th Century and the industrialization that took place in the 19th Century were crucial in Barcelona's reemergence as an important political, economic and cultural center in Europe. This was the period of Barcelona's Renaixenca (Renaissance).
The city walls were broken down and in 1897 six surrounding townships were incorporated, allowing Barcelona to grow and better plan its urban and industrial growth. Two World Fairs were hosted during this period; in 1888 and 1929.
The beginning of the 20th Century saw huge economic growth in Barcelona (especially after World War I). The Metro (or Subway) system was built, as was the city's port. The onset of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, however, put a quick stop to the city's growth.
Despite its support of the Republic, the city was a breeding ground for rebellions and fights between parties that neither the city government nor the Republic was able to control. The city was bombed several times, and Franco's troops reached the city in January of 1939. The subsequent dictatorship removed the city's power, giving way to uncontrolled internal immigration, especially from the south of Spain.
After the death of Francisco Franco (the dictator who ruled Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975) the city regained its cultural roots to become one of Europe's most interesting and culturally diverse cities.
Thanks to the World's Fair in 1888, the 1992 Olympics and the more recent Universal Forum of the Cultures in 2004, Barcelona has truly flourished as a city of great artistic and cultural significance in Europe and the World.