Contemporary BCN

  • The Mapfre tower and the Arts Hotel

Capital of Catalonia

The restoration of the Generalitat in 1977 saw Barcelona once again become the capital of an autonomous Catalonia, and start to recover its own identity, culture and language.

While the city’s industry and population were growing, social and political events, notably the Spanish Civil War and the long period of dictatorship that followed, set the tone for a time of upheaval. At the end of the 20th century, with the arrival of democracy, Barcelona rose again like a Phoenix, determined to become a great 21st century metropolis.

The light of a new era

The introduction of electricity at the beginning of the 20th century marked a new stage in the future of the industrial city. The Companyia Barcelonesa d’Electricitat was set up and by 1925 it was producing a third of all power generated in Spain and 70% of Catalonia's power.

Increasing industrial activity and the continual need for more workers led to the growth of the working class, which showed its discontent with working conditions. At the end of July 1909 a general strike broke out that developed into a popular revolt known as Tragic Week. During several days of social confrontation, churches and convents were burnt and there were fires and looting all over Barcelona. The revolt was put down by the army and 2,500 people were arrested. But the social unrest continued and the consolidation of the labour movement led to important gains, notably the introduction of the 8-hour day.

Noucentista Barcelona

At the same time there was an outburst of Catalan national feeling. At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of politicians and intellectuals began to work together to revive the Catalan language and culture, giving rise to a movement known as Noucentisme. This new style spread to literature and the arts, and dressed the city in a new style of architecture that saw a return to the classical forms of its Mediterranean heritage, in contrast to the exuberance of Modernisme. The Noucentistes started to reform and improve the education system. They wanted to make Barcelona the capital of Catalan culture, and created institutions such as the Institut d'Estudis Catalans and the Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya.

Capital of Catalonia

The restoration of the Generalitat in 1977 saw Barcelona once again become the capital of an autonomous Catalonia, and start to recover its own identity, culture and language.


International Exposition of 1929

The International Exposition of 1929 meant the transformation of Montjuïc, the fair site, where the Palau Nacional became the main focus with the Magic Fountain at the forefront.

Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona
Photo: V. Zambrano

Pavelló Mies Van der Rohe

The German national pavilion at the International Exposition held in Barcelona in 1929, designed by Mies Van der Rohe, is today an architectural icon of the Modern Movement.

Mies van der Rohe Foundation
Photo: V. Zambrano

Pavelló de la República

This replica of the Spanish Republic's pavilion at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1937 houses the Centre for International History Studies and a library that specialises in the Second Republic.

Pavelló de la República (PIC)
Photo: P. Herrero

El Refugi 307

Refugi 307 in Poble-sec is one of 1,300 air-raid shelters the people of Barcelona had to build during the Civil War. Today it is a Museu d’Història de Barcelona heritage site and the museum organises guided tours.

MUHBA - Barcelona History Museum
Photo: P. Navarro

Air-raid shelter in Plaça del Diamant

One of the biggest air-raid shelters built in Barcelona during the Civil War was the Plaça del Diamant shelter in Vila de Gràcia. The Taller d’Història de Gràcia organises guided tours.

Air-raid shelter in Plaça del Diamant

Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games

The city was transformed to host the Summer Olympics. The Olympic Ring on Montjuïc was the epicentre of Barcelona 92, which was watched enthusiastically throughout the city's metropolitan area.

Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona
Photo: A. Lajusticia

2004 Forum of Cultures

In 2004, Barcelona held the first Universal Forum of Cultures, an international event that explored cultural diversity and was held at a new site, the Fòrum.

Contemporary Municipal Archives
Photo: V. Zambrano

Districte 22@

Barcelona's knowledge district is the most important urban development of recent years, and one of the most ambitious of its kind in Europe.

22@Network BCN