The architecture of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain has had a parallel evolution to that of the rest of Catalonia, and has followed the multiple trends that have been produced in the context of the history of Western art in various ways.
Throughout its history, Barcelona has welcomed various cultures and civilizations which each contributed their concept of art and left their legacy for posterity – from the first Iberian settlers to the Roman colonizers, the Visigoths, and a short Islamic period that led to the emergence in the Middle Ages of Catalan art, language and culture.
This was a period of splendor where the Romanesque and Gothic styles inspired the artistic development of the country.
During the Modern Age, a period in which the city-county was linked to the Spanish Monarchy, the main styles were the Renaissance and the Baroque, developed from the proposals coming from the countries disseminating these styles – mainly Italy and France.
These styles were applied with several local variants, and although some authors claim that it was not a particularly splendid period in the artistic development of the city, the quality of the works reflected the whole of the state.
In quantity it was a fairly productive period, even if most of the achievements are overlooked in the present day.
The 19th Century brought notable economic and cultural revitalization, which took shape in one of the most fruitful periods in the city’s architecture: modernism.
It should be noted that until the 19th Century it was hemmed in by the walls of medieval origin that considered it a military square, so its growth was limited.
The situation changed with the demolition of the walls and the donation to the city of the Ciutadella Fortress, which led to the expansion of the city on the adjacent plain – a fact that was embodied in the Eixample project drawn up by Ildefons Cerdà, which was the biggest territorial extension of Barcelona.
Another significant increase in the region of the Catalan capital was the annexation of several neighboring municipalities between the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th.
All of this meant the adaptation of the new urban spaces and an increase in municipal artistic commissions on public roads, which were also favored by various events held in the city, such as the Universal Exhibition of 1888 and the International of 1929 – or, more recently, for the 1992 Olympic Games and the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures.
The 20th Century saw the updating of the various styles produced by Barcelona’s architects, who connected with international currents and put the city at the forefront of the avant-garde.
The architectural development in recent years and the commitment to design and innovation, as well as the linking of urban planning with ecological values and sustainability, have turned the Catalan capital into one of the leading European cities in the architectural field , a fact that has been recognized with numerous prizes and distinctions, such as the prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1999) and the prize of the Venice Biennale (2002).
In 2022, Barcelona was chosen as the World Capital of Architecture for 2026 by the International Union of Architects (UIA).
TOP 20 objects must see (in alphabetical order)
Bellesguard Tower (Gaudi)
Casa Batlló (Gaudi)
Casa Milà (Gaudi)
Casa Vicens (Gaudi)
Park Güell (Gaudi)
Sagrada Familia (Gaudi)
See more in Barcelona
See here Catalan travel guide