Written by Logan Dikmen
With around 2000 years of history, Barcelona has had time to develop a fascinating and unique culture. While Barcelona is a product of French, Spanish, and Arabic influence, today the city’s residents define themselves most as historically and culturally Catalan. Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia, an autonomous region in the northeast of Spain. This city always presents special moments for every visitor because there is a reflection of its incredible culture everywhere that fascinates everyone.
While I could talk about hundreds of things when it comes to Barcelona and culture, let me focus on the three things that stood out the most when I visited.
The fertile lands of Barcelona as a Mediterranean coastal city have enriched the food culture. It is possible to find many different tastes in Barcelona, where eating is a part of social life and turns into a ceremony with friends and family. You should definitely try the traditional foods in Catalan restaurants, world-class wine and beer in the courtyard-bars, and the delicious street foods. Although paella and tapas are not originally a part of the Catalan culture, they are also available almost everywhere in the city.
Many restaurants open at around 11 am before closing for the mid-day siesta, a 4-hour lunch break. After the siesta, restaurants reopen at around 5 pm and stay open late into the night, but people usually start to eat after 9 pm and eat their meals while chatting for long hours. Considering that the nightlife also stays alive very late, it is not uncommon to be around the dinner table until midnight.
Well, I know that one of the first things that come to mind when talking about Barcelona is football and FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most popular and successful soccer clubs. When you visit this city, you will realize that football is not just a sport for Catalans. It is a source of pride and the symbol of their nation. “Més que un club,” is the motto of the club and it translates to “more than a club”. At the beginning of the 20th century, FC Barcelona became a part of the national identity for Catalans because of its political support for Catalan independence during the civil war in Spain.
The Camp Nou stadium is FC Barcelona’s home and it’s the largest stadium in Europe with a 99,354 seating capacity. Even for an ordinary game, the stadium is almost completely filled. The area around the stadium turns into a festival area on game days. The fans gather around the stadium for hours before kickoff and share their joined passion altogether.
Language and communication
From the moment I entered the Catalan region, I felt like I was in a different country with all the red-yellow flags in the streets. Catalans have a culture of their own and they’re fiercely proud of their history and language. Today, they protect their culture by flying their flag and speaking their language freely, once banned under the dictatorial regime. Although the native language of the region is Catalan, almost everyone speaks Spanish as well. Since Barcelona is the heart of the region’s trade and tourism, many local people also speak English.
Perhaps due to its location in the Mediterranean, the local people are friendly and welcoming. For example, while sitting alone on the beach, you can suddenly find yourself in a group singing songs and enjoying yourself. Or when you ask for directions, someone might say, “Follow me, I’ll take you there”. Especially if you say a few words in Catalan, they will immediately invite you to join them. Barcelona is a city full of beautiful people where you can feel comfortable and safe everywhere and enjoy every moment.