Modern industrial city

  • Aerial view of l'Eixample

Economic force

Barcelona was seriously weakened following the War of Succession but there were many traders and entrepreneurs who set up new activities that quickly took root.

At the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries, Barcelona continued to be a dynamic city linked to other parts of the world but it suffered some long sieges during some protracted wars that left deep scars. However, thanks to the fighting spirit of its inhabitants, it enjoyed a resurgence at the end of the 18thcentury as the driving force of an industrial development that took root in the course of the 19th century.

A new model

The medieval Barcelona of merchants and craftsmen had established itself as a major maritime power. But when the Crown of Aragon became part of the new Spanish monarchy, and the conquest of America pushed trade towards the Atlantic, the city's maritime activity was weakened. The monarchy moved to Castile, while Barcelona remained in the hands of aviceroy.

Tensions with the central power were common throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and, as a result of the war Philip lV was waging against France, which imposed a big economic burden on the counties in the Principality of Catalonia, in 1640 the Catalan people revolted. It took place on the Feast of Corpus Christi and has gone down in history as Bloody Corpus, the day that marked the start of the Guerra dels Segadors (the Reaper's War). This war lasted 11 long years, during which Barcelona was put under siege for 14 months, a siege that proved decisive in bringing an end to the conflict. As a result of that war, France and Spain signed the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, which saw the counties in the north of the Principality – Rosselló (Roussillon), Conflent and part of Cerdanya (Cergagne) – pass into French hands.

The Barcelona of 11 September

When Charles ll of Spain, the last monarch of the House of Austria, died without leaving a legitimate heir, a major international conflict was unleashed in 1701: the War of the Spanish Succession. Castile was in favour of the Bourbon line and Europe was split between those who wanted to put the Bourbon pretender Philip V, grandson of Louis XIV of France, on the throne supported by the Castilians to strengthen French expansionism, and those who favoured Archduke Charles III of Austria, who included England, Portugal and the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands. In this context, Catalonia, led by Barcelona, put itself on the side of the Archduke of Austria to maintain its own statutes, aware that the Bourbons wanted to establish an absolute monarchy.

Economic force

Barcelona was seriously weakened following the War of Succession but there were many traders and entrepreneurs who set up new activities that quickly took root.

Photo: S. Rambla

El Born Cultural and Memorial Centre

One of Europe's biggest urban archaeological sites, covering 8,000 m2, preserves the part of the Ribera neighbourhood that was demolished following the defeat in the War of Succession.

El Born Cultural and Memorial Centre
Photo: J. Play

The Casa de la Barceloneta 1761 (CB-1761)

In 1753, work started on building the baroque neighbourhood of Barceloneta, near the new port. CB-1761, a house from that time that has been restored and opened to the public, is an example of the original buildings.

Casa de la Barceloneta 1761 (ES)
Photo: HEMAV

Universal Exposition of 1888

The Universal Exposition held in Barcelona in 1888, took place at the new Parc de la Ciutadella, and the main entrance was through the Arc de Triomf.

Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona
Photo: ICUB

Fabra i Coats

Fabra i Coats, a factory dating from the 19th century, is the best place to discover the city's industrial model of that time. The factory site has now been restored and currently hosts a number of cultural and educational projects.

Fabra i Coats (ES)
Photo: V. Zambrano

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

The National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) houses Renaissance, Baroque and Modern Art collections that allow visitors to discover the evolution of Catalan and European art.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
Photo: HEMAV

Castell de Montjuïc

Montjuïc Castle, an old military fortress, is today a municipal facility devoted to preserving the city's historical memory. It is surrounded by gardens and stands at the top of Montjuïc, making it an impressive viewpoint as well.

Castell de Montjuïc
Photo: V. Zambrano

Palau de la Virreina

At the end of the 18th century, the former viceroy of Peru returned to Barcelona and built the Vicereine's Palace, one of the city's outstanding examples of civil baroque. Today it houses the Centre de la Imatge.

Palau de la Virreina
Photo: J. Play

Museu d’Història de Catalunya

Housed in the Palau del Mar, the Museu d’Història de Catalunya (MHC - Museum of History of Catalonia) invites you to take a walk through the history of Catalan society from prehistoric times to the present day.

Museu d’Història de Catalunya (ES)

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