Kids may not realise just how many interesting facts there are to learn about Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain. It is a very modern city offering all the amenities and services any tourist would need. However, several customs and traditions that date back many centuries are still practised today.
The Romans have been given credit for the founding of Barcelona which took place at the end of the first century B.C. The city was first called Barcino and was built on Taber Mountain. The Romans built the city with surrounding walls which limited its growth. Today's city hall and the Plaza Sant Jaume are located at this site.
The official language of Barcelona is Catalan, which is a mix of French, Spanish and other Romance languages. Catalan was first seen in the late 12th century in official documents and by the 14th century it became one of the most widespread languages in the region. Throughout history the language went through a series of repressions and flourishings. In the 1950s its use was punishable by law. In 1975, Catalan was finally declared the official language of Barcelona.
This is a traditional custom that can be seen in many towns during festivals and celebrations. Castellers are groups of men who gather to form human towers by standing on each others' shoulders. Many of these towers have measured seven stories high. The towers are finished and topped with a small boy called the anxaneta.
The sardana is a traditional dance that is done at festivals and celebrations. One belief as to the origin of this dance is that it came from ancient Greece. Others believe it started during the 15th century with the occupation of Sardinia. The sardana is performed with individuals joining hands and dancing in a circle with precise timing and exact movements. Outsiders join in at strategic spots until the circle becomes too large. When this happens, smaller circles are formed.
Driving around Barcelona can be dangerous. It is reported that an accident occurs every 19 seconds during the week. On weekends, this increases to one every 10 seconds. People find it safer to walk than to drive. Portal de l'Àngel is the most walked street in Barcelona; as many as 3,500 people stroll down this street every hour.
St. George's Day
April 23rd is Diada de Sant Jordi, or St. George's Day. On this day it is customary to give roses and books to loved ones and friends. It is because of this custom that the day has been declared as the International Day of Books.