What do you do when you have been to Barcelona a few times and are meeting a friend who has never been? You take things at a very slow pace and spend the first day at the beach to help recover with jetlag! I have seen the beaches before but never actually spent a day lounging. We rented an umbrella and there was beach service for food and drinks and honestly, not that many vendors trying to sell us stuff. It was a perfectly relaxing day.
Every trip to Barcelona is always different and this one was no exception. We decided to take a free walking tour to learn some history about the city. I have not taken one in this city and wasn’t sure what to expect. I actually learned quite a few things that surprised me and I will try to give a quick and dirty summary about what I learned.
So the Romans were in charge of Barcelona like they were in much of Europe. In the 5th century the Visigoths conquered the city and enjoyed a short reign. in 871 Wilfred The Hairy took over and his line reigned over what is now Catalonia for about 300 years. Fun fact about Wilfred. He was not really being respected as a king so a story was started stating that was a descendant of St. George, the Patron Saint of Barcelona which meant he was a descendant of a dragon slayer. Super heroes unite!
In 1137 Aragon (another section of Barcelona before it was Barcelona) was left with a female successor to the throne (heaven forbid a female was left in charge). She married a descendant of Wilfred the Hairy which made him king and gave her respect as there was now a man in charge! They had a nice little reign and then in 1469, two royal lines paired up and married. Luckily they were only second cousins so it wasn’t a big deal. Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castille had a lovely union and created a lovely line of people who continued to marry their cousins. What a time to live in!
Let us not forget that sometime in the late 1600’s, one of the Grandson’s of Louis XIV decided to give up his succession to the throne in France and moved to Spain. This gave him a better chance to become king and start a new line of succession as one does.
Now we move on to the part no one talks about, The Civil War from 1936-1939 during the Franco era which finally ended in 1975 only because he died! Everything he said was correct and anyone who thought otherwise was disappeared or killed. During the civil war there were spots of Barcelona that were bombed and the accepted version until 1975 was that this is where traitors were brought and then killed. The real version is that the area was bombed by Mussolini. Did I mention that Franco was buddies with Mussolini and Hitler? Good company to be around. Anyhow, when the civil war was over, the use of the Catalan language or anything that Franco did not agree with, was banned and everyone now became Spanish.
The last public execution was in 1975 and finally made illegal in 1978. That is not that long ago people! Sports and politics crossed during the Franco era because FC Barcelona and Real Madrid were great soccer competitors. In the beginning Real Madrid was undefeated but FC Barcelona started to win and the people started to go to the games and cheer them on because cheering for Barcelona meant cheering AGAINST Franco because he was a huge supporter of the team. It was a way to rebel without rebelling.
How much of this is fact and how much is legend is for you to decided. In
the end it is a lot of fun to take a walking tour and get a feel for the city
and what stories it has to tell!