Barcelona is Spain's second largest and the capital of Catalonia, one of the 17 regions that form Spain. The city, Spain's second largest, has a wealth of unique historic architecture and has emerged as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe during the 1990s.
Barcelona has many quarters, but the most important and interesting for visitors are:
* Ciutat Vella – Barcelona's old town, including the medieval Barri Gotic.
* Eixample – modernist quarter, noted for its art nouveau buildings
* Gràcia – historically a working class neighborhood, now rather gentrified, and very lively
* Barceloneta – historically a fisherman's quarter
When to visit:
August is probably the busiest time in Barcelona; at the same time about 10% of shops and restaurants can be found closed
from mid-August to early September: owners go to vacations.
As humidity is high, 19-23 degrees Celsius (not higher) is the most comfortable weather.
Festivals and events
* Festes de la Mercè Around the 24th of September, the main celebrations in the city. Live music during all the day and
night, theatre, life in the streets, castellers, and most of it for free!
* Festes de Gràcia – around the 15th of August, the celebrations from the Gràcia quarter. Many streets are decorated by
the neighbours, live music, food in the street, party all night long.
* Festes de Sants – similar to Gracia's event, but smaller and a bit later in August. If you can't go to the Gracia's, try these!
* Sant Jordi 23rd of April. Is like Saint Valentine's in many places. People give roses and books around the streets. Is
one of the most popular and interesting celebrations in Catalonia.
Casa de l'Ardiaca during Corpus:
* Corpus. Late in May (Corpus Christi day). An egg is put over the fountains (most of them in the churches, and decorated
with flowers), and “magically dances” over the water. Most of the churches are in the city centre: Cathedral's cloister,
Santa Anna, Casa de l'Ardiaca, Museu Frederic Marés, and over 10 more fountains.
* Fira de Santa Llúcia From December 2nd/3rd to December 23rd, to commemorate Sta Llúcia (December 13th). In front of the
Cathedral, is where the Christmas objects are sold. Some places sell Christmas trees, but most of them sell elements for
making the pessebres, the representations of the birth of Jesus that people uses to put at home. These include small
sculptures, wooden pieces and moss used to simulate grass.
* Revetlla de Sant Joan: for weeks on end, listen to kids shoot off caps and fire crackers. Finish the week with San
Juan, head down to the beach for various music stations and all night festivities.
Barcelona's official languages are Catalan and Spanish. Most signs are indicated in Catalan, although Spanish and English are also widely used. Most inhabitants speak both Catalan and Spanish. Most inhabitants do not speak English or other foreign languages, as is the case in most of Spain. Also, remember that many inhabitants, specially if they were born outside Spain, do not speak Catalan and only know Spanish. As in most European countries any attempt by visitors to use the native language, in this case Catalan and Spanish, is always appreciated. The majority of Catalans instinctively address foreigners in Spanish.
To avoid giving offence, never refer to Catalan as a dialect, which is an offshoot of another language. Catalan is a language in the same way that French, Portuguese, Italian etc are.
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