Barcelona is the second book in Polity’s exciting new ‘Cities in World History’ series, which provides the general reader and traveller with historically informed companions to the world’s greatest cities. These new books bridge the gap between guide and history by offering concise and accessible accounts written by some of the world’s leading historians.
Barcelona has existed as a settlement for two millennia. Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs and Franks shaped (and sometimes destroyed) the city before it achieved, in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, global power as a trading metropolis and capital of the Aragonese-Catalan Empire. After a long period of struggle with the unifying Spanish state in the early modern period, the city revived in the 18th and 19th centuries as an industrial and commercial powerhouse. It became a centre of culture, ornamented by modern planning and wondrous works by Gaudi, Picasso, Miro and others. At the same time, Barcelona became known as ‘the rose of fire’: home to revolutionaries and anarchists. Creativity and conflict continued to shape Barcelona in the 20th century, as its citizens faced the Spanish Republic, Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship before the large-scale revitalisation of the city following the 1992 Olympics.
As McDonogh and Martínez-Rigol link complex social and cultural currents to the rich architectural and experiential heritage of this multi-layered city, modern-day Barcelona reveals depths and surprises to visitors and residents alike.