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The history of Barcelona goes back 2500 years to before Roman times, when the area was settled by Phoenicians and Carthaginians.  Later, with the disintegration of the Roman Empire came the invasion of the Visigoths who occupied Barcino in 415 A.D. and renamed the city Barcinona.  Three hundred years later at the beginning of the 8th century the Moors conquered Barcelona during their drive from northern Africa to the south of France.   Only one hundred years later the Franks, led by Louis the Pious, occupied Barcelona and established a strong military presence in what became known as the Spanish Mark, but the Muslim presence left a very deep long lasting positive print in Barcelona's history.

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The 11th and 12th centuries were the Golden Age, which consolidated Barcelona as an important Mediterranean city.  The internationalization of trade by way of maritime transportation was fundamental in the development of 12th century Barcelona, and soon the city became as influential as Genoa or Venice.  Barcelona declined in importance in later years until the early 19th century but then rapid expansion was again brought to a halt by the Napoleonic wars.  The post war years brought a yellow fever epidemic but by 1836 recovery was complete and Barcelona was back on track developing different industries.  Spainís first railway was built between Barcelona and Mataró, 30 kilometres to the north, in 1848.  After the Spanish revolution of 1868, which removed the Bourbons from power in Spain, Barcelona and Madrid came to a relatively peaceful coexistence.  The prosperity of the age was reflected in the 1888 World Exhibition and Barcelona became a city of cafes and terraces with a flamboyant bourgouisie.

The early years of the 20th century saw social unrest as tension increased between the rich industrial barons and the working class.  There were general strikes in 1901 and 1902, and in 1909 Barcelona saw riots that lasted a week and caused extensive destruction.  But not all was strife and conflict - these were the years of Modernism and very strong cultural currents were at work in Barcelona.

The Second Republic allowed for great strides in Catalan aspirations but the Spanish Civil War began one of Spainís darkest periods and the Catalan national identity was totally repressed.  Not until Francoís death and the new Spanish constitution of 1977 did Catalonia regain a measure of self government.  More problems were caused by massive migrations in the 50ís and 60ís from the impoverished south of Spain, creating tremendous urban planning problems that are evident to this day.  Finally, the 1992 Olympic Games produced the most extensive changes to the city in all its history.


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