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Barcelona

The second-to-last stop on the Bethel-in-Spain itinerary is Barcelona, the capital city of CathedralCatalonia , in northeastern Spain. Originally a Carthaginian city, in about 15 BC the Romans redrew the town as a military camp and some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the city’s cathedral. Barcelona has a colorful history which can in part explain the fiercely independent tendencies of its residents. The city was conquered by the Visigoths, the Moors, liberated by Charlemagne’s son Louis, retaken by the Moorish emir Al-Mansur in 985 , liberated as the independent kingdom of Aragon in the 13 th Century, and finally incorporated into greater Spain with the forging of a dynastic link between the Crown of Aragon and Castile.

During the 19th century, Barcelona grew with the industrial revolution and the beginning of the 20th century marked Barcelona's resurgence, as Catalonians clamored for political autonomy and greater freedom of cultural expression. The city has been the focus of the revival of the Catalan language and despite massive immigration of Castilian speakers from other parts of Spain in the second half of the 20th century, there has been notable success in the increased use of Catalan in everyday life.

Barcelona offers a unique opportunity for the tourist to walk from Roman remains to the medieval city, and then to the modern city with its open thoroughfares and grid iron street pattern. The historic city center is fairly flat, while the modern city fans out towards the surrounding hills, bordered by steep streets that arevaguely reminiscent of those found in San Francisco. One notable feature is Les Rambles, a boulevard that runs from the city center to the waterfront, thronged with crowds until late at night and lined by florists,bird sellers, street entertainers, cafeterias, and restaurants.

Les Rambles

Les Rambles ends at the old harbor, where a statue of Christopher ColumbusRamblas points eastwards across the Mediterranean Sea to his birth place of Genoa. Next to the statue, is the Museu Marítim (naval museum), which chronicles the history of life on the Mediterranean, including a full-scale model of a galley. The buildings of the museum are the medieval Drassanes (shipyards), where the ships which sailed the Mediterranean were built.

Perhaps the most outstanding architectural legacy of the city is the work of Antoni Gaudí, who lived and worked in Barcelona. The architect left several famous works like the Palau Güell in the city's old center and the immense, but still unfinished, church of the Sagrada Família, which has been under construction since 1882 and is not billed for completion until 2020. Another notable modernist building in the older part of the city is the Palau de la Música Catalana, built in 1908. Barcelona also boasts the museum of the Joan Miró Foundation, where several paintings and sculptures of this artist are shown, together with guest exhibitions from other museums around the world. The city features several elegant shopping districts, picturesque overlooks, the Olympic complex from the games in 1992, botanical gardens, an amusement park, beaches on the Mediterranean sea, and Parc Güell, the large fantastical park designed by Antoni Gaudí for a housing estate and opened to the public in 1922.