City of tapas, architecture and football

Barcelona during the 19th and 20th Century

Rule of Napoleon

At the beginning of the 19th century Catalonia was attacked by the army of the world-famous Corsican emperor and invader, Napoleon Bonaparte. Due to this, in 1812 Barcelona became part of the First French Empire. Catalan fought a guerilla warfare together with Castilians and other Spanish nationalities in order to dispel the French army from Spain. After these events the guerilla warfare became popular and it was used many times in many different countries.

The French suppression did not last too long because after the fall of Napoleon Barcelona was annexed again by Spain. Actually, with the victory over Napoleon the modern Spanish state was established in the form we know today.

If you would like to see historical remains from this period, we recommend to go to Girona since the town was affected by serious struggles. It was besieged by French troops for 7 months which ended with the capitulation of the town.

Renaissance of Barcelona

In the following period Barcelona fill its renaissance. Due to the industrialization Catalonia and Barcelona became wealthy and important again and the Catalan nationality and culture became stronger.

Many factories were constructed in the city, and Barcelona was full of rich factory owners. One of them was Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi, who supported the works of the well-known Modernista architect, Antoni Gaudi. Some of the most famous constructions financed by the Güell family are Park Güell and Palau Güell (Güell Palace). But besides the Güell family many rich families supported the newly spreaded Modernista buildings. many of them became later icons of the city.

The industrialization of Barcelona resulted in the appearance of the upper-middle-class that consisted of industrialists and traders. These people wanted to show their power and wealth, and started to built large and luxurious houses. More and more new palaces were built and finally, the area of Ciutat Vella, had no space for them. This led to the extension of the city and the construction of the Eixample district which is full of impressive Modernista buildings.

The First Barcelona Universal Exposition

In 1888 the first Barcelona Universal Exposition was organized. The event took place in Parc de la Ciutadella (Citadel Park) where the fort Philip V was (for additional information – Barcelona during the Period of United Spain). In fact, the destruction of the fortress and creation of the park was a symbol of the regained power of Catalonia.

On this exhibition many interesting constructions were presented such as the Mirador de Colom (Columbus Monument) situated in Port Vell, the Arc de Triomf de Barcelona and many others. The first one is a reminder of Barcelona’s role in the discovery of America (for additional information – Barcelona during the Period of United Spain), the second one is a symbol of the new power of Catalonia.

Catalonia Becomes Politically Powerful

The economic and cultural development of Barcelona in the 19th century resulted in the increase of the central government of Castile. This period was characterized by political tension and several armed conflicts between Madrid and Barcelona. One of the most serious conflicts took place in July of 1909 when during a protest organised by Catalan workers, anarchists and socialists, more than 100 people were killed in Barcelona by the soldiers of the Spanish army. Another activity against Catalans was the arrest of Lluís Companys i Jover, who was considered to be the leader of Catalans. Despite these conflicts Catalonia and Barcelona became stronger than before.

The Second Barcelona Universal Exposition

After the continuous developing of the city, in 1929 took place the second Barcelona Universal Exposition. It was organized in the area of Montjuic and there were exhibited such famous attractions as: the Font màgica de Montjuïc (Magic Fountain of Montjuic), the building of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia), that symbolize the power of Catalonia and Barcelona, and many others.

The continuous aspirations of Catalans for autonomy and freedom were rewarded in 1932 when Catalonia get autonomy. The area remained part of Spain but Catalans become more independent and received important rights.


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