Barcelona is a confident, progressive city, filled with bustling central boulevards and stylish modern streets. Barcelona has continued to blossom from provincial city to putative European capital.
First, a bit of history is in order. With the return to democracy following the death of Franco, the various Spanish regions were allowed to consolidate their cultural identities through varying degrees of political control over their own affairs. Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital, has an historical identity going back as far as the ninth century, and even during the Franco dictatorship when a policy of cultural suppression was pursued, it proved impossible to surpress Catalan ethnicity.
As a result of this urge to retain its own identity, Barcelona has always had the reputation of being at the forefront of Spanish political activism and of radical design and architecture. This progress is partly due to the tourist boost the city got when the 1992 Olympics were held in Barcelona. When the Games had finished, the city was left with an entirely new harbor and the wonderfully the futuristic Olympic Village. Since 1992, Barcelona’s push for self-improvement knows no bounds. There is a great pride in the city which is expressed in a remarkable cultural energy, seen most perfectly in the glorious modernista(Art Nouveau) architecture that is everywhere throughout the city. Antoni Gaudí is the most famous of those who have left their mark on Barcelona in this way: his Sagrada Família church is rightly revered as one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of the twentieth century. Barcelona also has a great legacy in art, from Romantic to Gothic works are contained in the cities many art museums. Their collection of Pablo Picasso is unparalleled.