Catalonia is officially an autonomous community in the northeast of Spain. Its nationality runs deep in the population who have long yearned for a country of their own. To the north, Catalonia borders France and Andorra. To the east, the coast touches the Mediterranean Sea. Elsewhere, Catalonia is surrounded by other provinces of Spain. Its capital city is the major metropolitan area of Barcelona.
Historically and culturally rich, Catalonia is an old and controversially established nation. People have lived on these lands for around 35,000 years, and relics of ancient times can be found all over the community. However, for more than 1000 years, Catalonia has been the center of monarchial and political tensions with the rest of Spain. The County of Barcelona was founded in 801 by Charlemagne. Since then a series of kings and queens intermarried with other important monarchs of the Iberian Peninsula. At the turn of the 20th Century, Spain suffered from economic tensions leading to the rise of the dictator Francisco Franco. During this time, Franco suppressed the Catalan community and its culture. However, in 1978, modern Spain was formed. The constitution today recognizes differing nationalities and Catalan has enjoyed varying degrees of autonomy since the late 70s.
Today, the separatist movement is still alive. Particularly following the economic crisis of 2008, Catalonians have rallied for an independent country. With that said, this region of Spain remains safe for visitors. Almost all of the protests are non-violent in nature. Catalan makes every effort to preserve its culture. Don’t expect to hear much Spanish in the area. Catalan is the official language along with Aranese. Visiting Catalan is a unique holiday experience created by the mix of Spanish and Catalan culture.
Catalan is a huge country and a popular tourism destination. Barcelona is the most important city and a very interesting tourist attraction. Here you will find world-class restaurants, the colorful Sagrada Familia, wonderful beaches and fantastic museums. The province of Girona hosts Medieval cities such as Girona itself, several national parks with hiking trails, vineyards perfect for wine tasting, and Salvador Dalí’s Theatre and Museum in Figueres. On the south side of Barcelona, visitors to Tarragona can partake in many activities including hiking in the Serra de Llaberia, visiting the Roman Aqueduct in Tarragona, and learning about artistic architecture at the Gaudi Centre Reus. Finally, Lleida is the inland province of Catalonia which is home to the fantastic Turo Seu Vella, the Parc Municipal de la Mitjana, and the Iglesia Sant Llorenc. There certainly won’t be a dull topside moment during your trip to Catalonia.
Barcelona International Airport is a European hub that welcomes flights from around the world. It is also possible to fly into Girona Airport, Reus Airport or Lleida Airport. Many visitors additionally arrive by train or bus from elsewhere in Spain or Europe.