History of the beaches

  • Historic beaches of Barcelona
  • Historic beaches of Barcelona
  • Historic beaches of Barcelona

Our beaches today

The urban remodelling, resulting from the Olympic Games in 1992, underlined three main decisions: the cleaning up and consolidation of the coastline, the removing of the coastal railway lines and the construction of the Ronda (Ring Road) and Parc del Litoral.

During the last few years, the beaches of Barcelona, and their special features which make them so attractive, have become one of the most popular public areas of the city. Beaches constitute a large open air area where we can come into contact with the sea, the sun and the sand, and where we can also become familiar with marine fauna. All of this is possible on the beaches in Barcelona which are close to home and which can be enjoyed all year round.

There are all kinds of leisure activities which take place around the beaches, which makes them an ideal area to enjoy the company of others. However, Barcelona's relationship with the sea has changed throughout history.

The sea has played an important role in making Barcelona an open city, in which peoples and cultures have mixed since ancient times. The medieval and modern city established trade relations by sea but, with the passing of time, we have witnessed a growing need to have more contact with the sea, beyond merely mercantile and fishing activities.

Over the years, the inhabitants of Barcelona have become more attracted to sea bathing, swimming courses and sailing competitions. The reconstruction of the Maritime Front of the city, begun in the 1980's, meant a historical change and has contributed to making the beaches part of our daily life.

Barcelona and the sea

Since its beginnings, the history of Barcelona has been closely linked to the sea. Over the centuries, the coastline has varied as a result of the constant dynamics between the sea and the land. In the fifth century, the Montjuïc mountain and its Iberian settlements presided over the plain situated around the Marina mountains, lying between the Rubricatus (Llobregat) and Betulònica (Besòs) rivers, which at the time had a completely different coastline to that of today. To the west of Montjuïc there were long beaches, and between the mountain and the hill later called Taber (today Carrer Paradís and its surroundings), a small bay allowed the sea to flow inland much further than the costal strip of today. Facing the sea, on the top of this hill, the Roman Barcino was established.

Later, the sea receded, creating islets and lagoons. The sea continued to recede and the new areas of land which began to appear were occupied by farming land and houses. Since then and to the present day, the history of Barcelona has been a permanent courtship between the sea and the land; a relationship that has permitted a constant melting pot of peoples and cultures which has given the city its undisputable cosmopolitan and Mediterranean condition.

Today, the Barcelona coastline is a built-up landscape, the inheritance of centuries of evolution. It is a people's landscape which stands out for its beaches, which now form part of the history of the city. The beaches are easily accessible and integrated into the city just like any of its other public areas. However, as well as providing an opportunity to enjoy leisure and sports activities, the beaches also make it possible to move from an urban world to the natural world of the sea, so rich but perhaps not as well known as it should be.

Our beaches today

The urban remodelling, resulting from the Olympic Games in 1992, underlined three main decisions: the cleaning up and consolidation of the coastline, the removing of the coastal railway lines and the construction of the Ronda (Ring Road) and Parc del Litoral.

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