City of tapas, architecture and football

Barcelona during the 21th Century

The Spanish Civil War

After a great period in the Catalan history (for additional information – Barcelona in 19th and 20th Century), in 1936 the Spanish Civil War was started. Of course, the war affected Catalan cities too.

Straight before the war, Barcelona was preparing for the People’s Olympics which would have been held in the city during the summer of 1936. Several athletes joined to the troops of the Popular Front in order to fight against the fascist groups.

The Civil War was the result of a coup that was carried out by nationalist, fascist and conservative groups led byJosé Sanjurjo against the Spanish government that was left oriented. After Sanjurjo died the leader of nationalists became the famous Francisco Franco.

The fascist army conquered easily most of Spain, but Barcelona became the capital of left oriented forces consisted of anarchists, communists, socialists and liberalists. During the war the city was bombed many times, due to this, several historical buildings and places (mainly in the Gothic Quarter) were damaged hardly. Naturally, the war had many human sacrifices, more than three thousand civilians died or got injured during the struggles. Therefore, it is not surprising that the influence of this bloody period on Barcelona is perceptible even today, people are still speaking about the bloody and cruel facts of the war.

Besides citizens’ stories, many sites and buildings still carry the wounds of the war. For example, Plaça de Sant Felip Neri in the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) where many people were shot during the war and bullet holes even today can be observed in the buildings.

You can also take a look at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys near the Montjuïc Castle. This is a stadium named after Lluís Companys i Jover who was the leader of Catalans and liberal forces of Spain and at the end of the Civil War he was executed at Montjuïc Castle. He is considered to be a hero, and besides this stadium numerous streets are named after him, not only in Catalonia but also in all of Spain. If you are in the area of the Montjuic, you can visit also the museum of the Civil War and take a look at the monument constructed in memory of those who died during the war which is situated in the cemetery.

Additionally, you can visit Eixample and see the bunker from the war, or take a walk in the Gracia area that was the hiding place for republicans and anarchists during the War. Do not be surprised if you still see anarchist symbols and flags in the neighborhood.

The Franco Regime

In 1939 the war ended with the victory of general Franco and his fascist groups. It is needless to say that during those years when Barcelona was controlled by the nationalist regime of Franco, Catalans were suppressed – Catalan language and symbols were banned and many Catalans statues were destroyed (after the end of the dictatorship most of them were rebuilt and today you can admire them again). The assimilation of Catalans in Barcelona was strengthened by the immigration of numerous non-Catalan people from different areas of Spain that was caused by a quick urbanization and by the fact that Barcelona was a rich city with a developed industry.

Besides the suppression of the Catalan culture, Franco tried to force Catalans to adore the Spanish culture. That is the reason he forced them to build a bullring on Plaça d’Espanya. Bullfights are a part of the Castilian and Andalusian cultures, but in Catalonia this sport was never a liked one.

Moreover, a great number of people who did not agreed with the fascist principles were arrested or even executed.

Barcelona after the Franco Regime

In 1975 general Franco died which resulted in the end of the dictatorship and liberalization of the country. Catalans started to use their language again and a lot of previously destroyed historical constructions and statues were rebuilt. In Barcelona the bullring was rebuilt as a mall, named Arena Mall (for additional information – Shopping in Barcelona). Another milestone was the banning of bullfights in Catalonia on 28 July 2010.

On 11 September 1977, 1.5 million people went out to the streets of Barcelona in order to demonstrate for the autonomy of Catalonia. Finally, in 1979 Catalonia got autonomous status. Seven years later, together with Spain Catalonia became member of the European Union.

A great event in the history of Barcelona took place at the beginning of the 90’s when the city hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics. These meant many new investments and constructions but also numerous visitors and tourists. These factors contributed to the development of Barcelona. The northern part of Port Vell – the Olympic Port, was an unimportant area up until the Olympic Games, when it was rebuilt.

On 11 September 2012 a demonstrations for the independence of Catalonia took place. There is a strong pressure on the Spanish government related to the independence but the issue is quite problematic and many people avoid speaking about it. The biggest problem is that in the last decades many non-Catalan people moved to Barcelona and to Catalonia for whom the independence is not important or even would not be favorable. Moreover, some of the Catalan inhabitants disagree with it.

Now, after you have read the whole history of Barcelona, you can understand better the people who live there and their culture and know the importance of many tourist attractions in the city.


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