Back in March 2011, the supplement of Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia named Barcelona as the 2nd most liveable city in the world – coming only after New York - while Madrid made it to number 8 in the Top 10. National Geographic lists Barcelona first in the Top 10 Beach Cities, containing 7 beaches including easily accessible city beach Barceloneta with Rebecca Horn's wonderful rusting tower: 'Homenatge a la Barceloneta.' Barcelona is the most popular tourist destination in Spain, receiving over 5 million visitors every year who come to enjoy the moderate climate, Mediterranean sea, and delicious food. Visitors admire the stunning work of Antoni Gaudí along Passeig de Gracia and beyond, from the Sagrada Família to the Parc Güell, along with the Catalan Modernisme architecture (Art Nouveau to the rest of Europe) romantic alleys and narrow houses of the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), the old city centre and the high-end fashion shops on Avenue Diagonal.
The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is home to the Catalan government, representing a fiercely proud and vibrant culture, with a new law that requires all applicants for permanent residence/citizenship to be fluent in Catalan. Mixing tradition and modernity, the city is bilingual, and while you can get by without knowing a word of Catalan, this Romance language is beautiful and distinct from Spanish, French or Italian. Trying to learn a few phrases will always help make you welcome in a Catalan speaking region, and may come in handy someday... . Do you have this in my size? (Teniu això en la meva talla?) Am I under arrest? (Estic arrestat?) and Another round, please! (Una altra ronda, si us plau.)
English words of Catalan origin include Aioli, from 'all i oli', sauce made with olive oil and garlic; Aubergine comes from the Catalan 'albergínia' or 'albergina'; Barracks, from Old Catalan 'barraca' (hut) morphed through French baraque, and Paella, from Valencian Catalan, via Old French 'paele', ultimately from Latin 'patella' (a small dish). You will find plenty to your taste in the restaurants and bars of this glamorous sophisticated city.