The capital of the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia ranks among the five most-visited cities in Europe. Nestled between the Mediterranean Sea coast, two river mouths and the Serra de Collserola mountain range, Barcelona is home to several attractions, a rich cultural history, multiple performance centers for theatre and music as well as several large-scale sports venues.

LocationPopulationMetro area populationAreaDensity
Northeastern Spain1,636,8004,840,000101 km²16,142 / km²

While there may have been human-built settlements in the Barcelona area as early as 5,000 years BC, the town began to thrive under Roman rule from about 15 BC on. Temporary Moorish rule and the town belonging to different monarchies in the Middle Ages all left their mark on the cityscape. Today, the “City of Counts” is the second-largest municipality of Spain behind Madrid and the center of one of the largest urban areas in the European Union. Since it occupies a relatively small space, it is Europe’s second-most densely populated city with more than a million inhabitants behind Paris, but it nevertheless consistently earns high marks for its livability.

With millions of annual visitors, Barcelona has sometimes suffered from signs of overtourism, resulting in disproportionate rises in rental prices for residents. The local authorities thus have adopted measures to curb further growth of tourism numbers somewhat. Barcelona’s main attractions include the majestic, yet still unfinished Sagrada Familia church, the main work of renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, who also contributed several other works to the cityscape. All together, the city boasts eight World heritage sites as well as an eclectic range of museums, many historic buildings, beautiful parks and of course beaches that cover several miles of the coastline. In addition, a mild Mediterranean climate with relatively warm winter temperatures also adds to the city’s appeal.

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