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Language

There are two official languages in Catalonia: Catalan and Spanish, and there are more and more people in the region who understand and speak English. You're sure to get by.


Catalonia has its own language: Catalan. Most of the people who live in Barcelona are bilingual and speak Catalan and Spanish, which is also an official language. Street names and most road and transport signs are in Catalan.

Many restaurants, especially those in the city centre, have menus in several languages. But if there's something you don't understand, don't be afraid to ask, people will be only too happy to help. Many people from Barcelona understand English and French.


Customs

Prices and long hours to shop and eat… and to work! Get an insight into the routine and the way people live in Barcelona.


As in most European countries and also in Catalonia, GMT is the time system used in Barcelona. Clocks are one hour ahead of GMT in winter and two in summer and are adjusted twice a year, going forward one hour in winter and back an hour in summer.

Spain is in the Eurozone and the euro is its official currency. Foreign currency can be exchanged at savings banks, or 'Caixes' (the opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 2pm. Thursday afternoons, 4.30pm to 7.45pm, except June to September) and banks (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 2pm and Saturday, 8.30am to 1pm, except summer). Bureaux de change also open every day in Barcelona city centre, and at the main railway stations and the Estació del Nord bus station and at the Airport, where they have longer opening hours.

The working day in Barcelona usually begins at 8 or 9 in the morning and ends around 6 or 7 in the evening, with a one- or two-hour break for lunch at 2pm. This is the daily life and routine that befits the Catalans' reputation in the rest of Spain as a hard-working and thrifty people.

Lunch and dinner are usually eaten a little later than in the rest of Europe. Most restaurants open from 1pm to 4pm, and from 8pm until 11pm. Tipping isn't obligatory, but people usually leave 5% if they are satisfied with the service.

Shops have long opening hours, from 10am to 2pm and from 4.30 to 8 or 8.30pm. In Barcelona city centre, most shops don't close at lunchtime and large shopping centres and department stores open until 10pm in summer.

With regard to prices, Barcelona features a wide range of accommodation, shops and services to suit all pockets. Here are some approximate prices in Barcelona: a single public transport ticket costs 1.45€, an espresso coffee between 1 and 1.50€; a lunchtime set menu can cost between 8 and 15€, a cinema ticket 7.40€; a sandwich 2 to 3.50€, and a newspaper about 1.20€. Smoking is prohibited in all bars and restaurants in Barcelona.


Accessibility

Barcelona is working to achieve accessibility for disabled people with one main objective: to create a cohesive city which will favour quality of life and respect for diversity.


Between us all, we build a better Barcelona, in search of freedom, autonomy and facilities so that the most characteristic places and public transport are accessible and the city can be enjoyed by disabled people.


History

The cradle of Catalan culture, amongst many other cultures and civilisations, and a witness to major transformations such as the Industrial Revolution or the Civil War amongst many others, Barcelona has a fascinating history. Find out more about it!


The first human settlements in Barcelona date back to Neolithic times. The city itself was founded by the Romans who set up a colony called Barcino at the end of the 1st century BC. The colony had some thousand inhabitants and was bounded by a defensive wall, the remains of which can still be seen in the old town. For over 200 years, Barcelona was under Muslim rule, and, following the Christian reconquest, it became a county of the Carolingian Empire and one of the main residences of the court of the Crown of Aragon. The fruitful medieval period established Barcelona's position as the economic and political centre of the Western Mediterranean. The city's Gothic Quarter bears witness to the splendour enjoyed by the city from the 13th to the 15th centuries.

From the 15th to 18th centuries Barcelona entered a period of decline, while it struggled to maintain its economic and political independence. This struggle ended in 1714, when the city fell to the Bourbon troops and Catalonia's and Catalans' rights and privilegeswere suppressed.

A period of cultural recovery began in the mid-19th century with the arrival of the development of the textile industry. During this period, which was known as the Renaixença, Catalan regained prominence as a literary language.

The 20th century ushered in widespread urban renewal throughout Barcelona city, culminating in its landmark Eixample district, which showcases some of Barcelona's most distinctive Catalan art-nouveau, or modernista, buildings. The Catalan Antoni Gaudí, one of the most eminent architects, designed buildings such as the Casa Milà (known as La Pedrera, the Catalan for stone quarry), the Casa Batlló and the Sagrada Família church, which have become world-famous landmarks.

The freedoms achieved during this period were severely restricted during the Civil War in 1936 and the subsequent dictatorship. With the reinstatement of democracy in 1978, Barcelona society regained its economic strength and the Catalan language was restored. The city's hosting of the 1992 Olympic Games gave fresh impetus to Barcelona's potential and reaffirmed its status as a major metropolis.

In 2004, the Forum of Cultures reclaimed industrial zones to convert them into residential districts. An example of the renewed vigour with which Barcelona is looking towards the 21st century


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