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BARCELONA, our city
L'EIXAMPLE, our neighbourhood
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BARCELONA, our city

Bits of History of Barcelona

The foundation of Barcelona is the subject of two different legends.The first attributes the founding of the city to Hercules 400 years before the building of Rome, and that it was rebuilt by the Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who named the city Barcino after his family, in the 3rd century BC. The second legend attributes the foundation directly to Hamilcar Barca. (Oros. vii. 143; Miñano, Diccion. vol. i. p. 391; Auson. Epist. xxiv. 68, 69, Punica Barcino.)

About 15 BC, the Romans redrew the town as a castrum (a Roman military camp) centred on the "Mons Taber", a little hill nearby the contemporary city hall (Plaça de Sant Jaume). Under the Romans it was a colony, with the surname of Faventia (Plin. iii. 3. s. 4), or, in full, Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino (Inscr. ap. Gruter, p. 426, nos. 5, 6.) or Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino. Mela (ii. 6) mentions it among the small towns of the district, probably as it was eclipsed by its neighbor Tarraco (modern Tarragona); but it may be gathered from later writers that it gradually grew in wealth and consequence, favoured as it was with a beautiful situation and an excellent harbour. (Avien. Or. Mar. 520: "Et Barcilonum amoena sedes ditium.") It enjoyed immunity from imperial burdens. (Paul. Dig. 1. tit. 15, de Cens.) The city minted its own coins; some from the era of Galba survive. Some important Roman remains are exposed under the Plaça del Rei, entrance by the city museum, Museu d'Història de la Ciutat and the typically Roman grid-planning is still visible today on the map of the historical centre, the Barri Gòtic ("Gothic Quarter"). Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated in the cathedral butted up against them [1]; the basilica La Seu is credited to have been founded in 343. The city was conquered by the Visigoths in the early 5th century, by the Moors in the early 8th century, reconquered from the emir in 801 by Charlemagne's son Louis who made Barcelona the seat of Carolingian "Spanish Marches" (Marca Hispanica), a buffer zone ruled by the Count of Barcelona. Barcelona was still a Christian frontier territory when it was sacked by Al-Mansur in 985.

The counts of Barcelona became increasingly independent and expanded their territory to include all of Catalonia, later formed the Crown of Aragon who conquered many overseas possessions, ruling the western Mediterranean Sea with outlying territories as far as Athens in the 13th century. The forging of a dynastic link between the Crowns of Aragon and Castile marked the beginning of Barcelona's decline.

The city was devastated after the Catalonian Republic of 1640-1652, and again during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. King Philip V of Spain demolished half of the merchants' quarter (La Ribera) to build a military citadel, the Ciutadella, as a way of both punishing and controlling the rebel city. Official use of was forbidden, traditional Catalan institutions were abolished, and the university withdrew.

Barcelona and the province of Catalonia were annexed by the French Empire of Napoleon after he invaded Spain and put his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne. It was returned to Spain after Napoleon's downfall. During the 19th century, Barcelona grew with the industrial revolution and the introduction of many new industries. During a period of weaker control by the Madrid authorities, the medieval walls were torn down and the citadel of La Ribera was converted into an urban park: the modern Parc de la Ciutadella, site of the 1888 "Universal Exposition" (World's Fair). The exposition also left behind the Arc de Triomf and the Museu de Zoologia (a building originally used during the fair as a cafe-restaurant). The fields that had surrounded the artificially constricted city became the Eixample ("extension"), a bustling modern city surrounding the old. The beginning of the 20th century marked Barcelona's resurgence, while Catalan nationalists clamoured for political autonomy and greater freedom of cultural expression. Barcelona was a stronghold for the anarchist cause -anarchist opposition to the call-up of reservists to fight in Morocco was one of the factors that led to the city's Tragic Week in 1909- siding with the Republic's democratically elected government during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Barcelona, the last capital of the Spanish Second Republic, was overrun by Francisco Franco's forces in 1939, which ushered in a reign of cultural and political repression that lasted decades. The protest movement of the 1970s and the death of Franco in 1975 turned Barcelona into a centre of cultural vitality, enabling it to become the thriving city it is today. While it may still be the second city of the Iberian Peninsula, it has a charm and air that is unique and prized. A decline in the inner city population and displacement towards the outskirts and beyond raises the threat of urban sprawl. The city has been the focus of the revival of the Catalan language. Despite massive immigration of Castilian speakers from the rest of Spain in the second half of the 20th century, there has been notable success in the increased use of Catalan in everyday life.

Barcelona was the site of the 1992 Summer Olympics. The largest event held in the city since the '92 Summer Olympics was the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures that was held between May and September, lasting a marathon 141 days.

Info from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona

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L'EIXAMPLE, our neighbourhood

The Eixample (Catalan for "extension"; Castilian, Ensanche) is a district of Barcelona between the old city (Ciutat Vella) and what were once surrounding small towns (Sants, Gràcia, Sant Andreu etc.). Constructed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, some parts of the Eixample were heavily influenced by modernist architects, chief among whom is Antoni Gaudí. His work in the Eixample includes the Casa Milà (nicknamed La Pedrera) and the Casa Batlló, both of which are on the wide Passeig de Gràcia, as well as the Sagrada Familia.

The Casa Batlló is part of a block called the Illa de la Discòrdia, along with two other notable Modernisme works, Lluís Domènech i Montaner's Casa Lleó Morera and Josep Puig i Cadafalch's Casa Amatller. The block is so named due to the visual clash between the buildings; its Spanish name, Manzana de la Discordia, is also a pun on Eris's Apple of Discord - manzana means both "apple" and "city block".

he Eixample is characterized by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues, and truncated-square blocks (named illes in Catalan, manzanas in Spanish). This was a visionary, pioneering design by Ildefons Cerdà, who considered traffic and transport along with sunlighting and ventilation in coming up with his characteristic octagon-shaped blocks, where the streets broaden at every intersection making for greater visibility, better ventilation and (today) some short-stay parking space. The corners were cut off to allow horse drawn carts an area in which to turn around.

The grid pattern remains as a hallmark of Barcelona, but many of his other provisions were unfortunately ignored: the four sides of the blocks and the inner space were built instead of the planned two or three sides around a garden; the streets were narrower; only one of the two diagonal avenues were realized; the inhabitants were of a higher class than the mixed composition dreamed of by Cerdà. The important needs of the inhabitants were incorporated into his plan which called for markets, schools, hospitals every so many blocks. Today, most of the markets remain open in the spots they have been from the beginning.

The most important avenues in the Eixample are Passeig de Gràcia (that links centric Plaça Catalunya with the old town of Gràcia), [[Avinguda Diagonal[[ (that cuts the grid diagonally), and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (that crosses all Barcelona from southwest to northeast). Other wide avenues in the area include Carrer d'Aragó and Passeig de Sant Joan. Some parts of the Eixample are rather well-to-do neighbourhoods, especially around the central Passeig de Gràcia, but the Eixample also contains many decaying buildings inhabited by lonely aged tenants on the verge of poverty, especially in the fringe areas. Eixample contains one of Barcelona's gay villages, nicknamed the gaixample.

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What is CATALÀ?

Catalan IPA: [?k?æt?l'æn] (català IPA: [k?.t?'la] or [ka.ta'la]) is a Romance language, the national language of Andorra and co-official in the Spanish autonomous communities of Balearic Islands, Valencia (under the name Valencian) and Catalonia. Spain has the majority of active Catalan speakers. It is spoken or understood by as many as 12 million people who live not only in Andorra and Spain, but also in parts of southwestern France (most of Pyrénées Orientales) and in the city of Alghero in Sardinia, Italy.

It shares many features with both Spanish and French, and is the language nearest to Occitan. Indeed, when comparing the modern descendants of Latin, Catalan is often thought of as a transitory language between the Iberian Romance languages (such as Spanish) and Gallo-Romance languages (such as French), though this characterization is not strictly accurate.

In 1861, Manuel Milà i Fontanals proposed a division of Catalan into two major dialect blocks: Eastern Catalan and Western Catalan. There is no precise linguistic border between one dialect and another because there is nearly always a transition zone of some size between pairs of geographically separated dialects, (except for dialects specific to an island). The main differences between the two blocks are: Western Catalan (Bloc o Branca del Català Occidental): Unstressed vowels: [a] [e] [i] [o] [u]. Distinctions between e and a and o and u. Initial or post-consonantal x is affricate /t?/. Between vowels or when final and preceded by i, it is /j?/. 1st person present indicative is -e or -o. Inchoative in -ix, -ixen, -isca Maintenance of medieval nasal plural in proparoxiton words: hòmens, jóvens Specific Vocabulary: espill, xiquet, granera, melic... Eastern Catalan (Bloc o Branca del Català Oriental): Unstressed vowels [?] [i] [u]. The unstressed vowels e and a become /?/ and o and u become /u/. Initial or post-consonantal x is the fricative /?/. Between vowels or final preceded by i it is also /?/. 1st person present indicative is -o, -i or ø. Inchoative in -eix, -eixen, -eixi. The -n- of medieval nasal plural is dropped in proparoxiton words: homes, joves. Specific Vocabulary: mirall, noi, escombra, llombrígol...

Standard Catalan, as regulated by the IEC(Institut od Catalan Studies), centres on the speech of the educated classes of Barcelona, and so is closest to Central Catalan; however, not all of the features of Barcelonese speech can be considered standard, as there are lots of traditional dialectal traits and a Castillian influence in that area. Additionally, most important dialectal traits of other dialects are also considered standard. The orthography used to write Standard Catalan (and basically any Catalan text) is closest to Valencian pronunciation, although some instances of grave accented <è> correspond to Central Catalan. There is also a second standard form of the language, Valencian (valencià), regulated by the AVL. The Valencian standard is very close to IEC's but adds features characteristic of Western Catalan.

Catalan developed by the 9th century from Vulgar Latin on both sides of the eastern part of Pyrenees mountains (counties of Roussillon, Empuries, Besalú, Cerdanya, Urgell, Pallars and Ribagorça). It shares features with Gallo-romance and Ibero-romance, and it could be said to be in its beginnings no more than an eccentric dialect of Occitan (or of Western Romance). The language was spread to the south by the Reconquista in several phases: Barcelona and Tarragona, Lleida and Tortosa, the ancient Kingdom of Valencia, and transplanted to the Balearic Islands and l'Alguer (Alghero).

Catalan was exported in the thirteenth century to the Balearic Islands and the newly created Valencian Kingdom by the Catalan and Aragonese invaders (note that the area of Catalan language still extends to part of what is now the region of Aragon). During this period, almost all of the Muslim population of the Balearic Islands were expelled, but many Muslim peasants remained in many rural areas of the Valencian Kingdom, as had happened before in the lower Ebro basin (or Catalunya Nova).

During the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the Catalan language was important in the Mediterranean region. Barcelona was the pre-eminent city and port of the Aragonese Empire, a confederation nominally ruled by the King of Aragon (Aragon, Catalonia, Roussillon, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Sicily, and — later — Sardinia and Naples).

All prose writers of this era used the name 'Catalan' for their common language (e.g. the Catalan Ramon Muntaner, the Majorcan Ramon Llull, etc.) The matter is more complicated among the poets, as they wrote in a sort of artificial Langue d'Oc in the tradition of the troubadours. Italian resentment of this Catalan dominance appears to have been one of the wellsprings of the so-called "Black Legend". One of the first few pages of Tirant lo Blanch, by Joanot Martorell.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the city of Valencia gains pre-eminence in the confederation, due to several factors, including demographic changes and the fact that the royal court moved there. Presumably as a result of this shift in the balance of power within the confederation, in the fifteenth century the name 'Valencian' starts to be used by writers from Valencia to refer to their language.

In the sixteenth century the name 'Llemosí' (that is to say, "the Occitan dialect of Limoges") is first documented as being used to refer to this language. This attribution has no philological base, but it is explicable by the complex sociolinguistic frame of Catalan poetry of this era (Catalan versus troubadouresque Occitan). Ausias March himself was not sure what to call the language he was writing in (it is clearly closer to his contemporary Catalan or Valencian than to the archaic Occitan).

Then, during the sixteenth century, most of the Valencian elites switched languages to Castilian Spanish, as can be seen in the balance of languages of printed books in Valencia city: at the beginning of century Latin and Catalan (or Valencian) were the main Catalan languages of the press, but by the end of the century Spanish was the main language of the press. Still, rural areas and urban working classes continued to speak their vernacular language.

During the first half of the nineteenth century, Catalan and Valencian experienced a major revival among urban elites due to the Renaixença, a romantic cultural movement. The effects of this revival continue to be felt to this day.

In Francoist Spain (1939-1975), the use of Castilian over Catalan was promoted, and public use of Catalan was repressed and in fact forbidden. In spite of this, some few thousands of books were published in Catalan. Franco's effort to portray Catalan as an archaic dialect still allowed the publication of, for example, older poetry. Some modern works were sneaked under censorship by pretending that they were older.

Following the death of Franco in 1975 and the restoration of democracy, the use of Catalan increased and the Catalan language is now used in politics, education and the Catalan media, including the newspapers Avui ("Today"), El Punt ("The Point") and El Periódico de Catalunya (sharing content with its Spanish release and with El Periòdic d'Andorra, printed in Andorra; and the television channels of Televisió de Catalunya (TVC): TV3, the main channel, and Canal 33/K3 (culture and cartoons channel) as well as a 24-hour news channel 3/24 and the TV series channel 300; there are also many local channels available in region in Catalan, such as BTV and Td8 (in the metropolitan area of Barcelona), Canal L'Hospitalet (L'Hospitalet de Llobregat), Canal Terrassa (Terrassa), Televisió de Sant Cugat TDSC (Sant Cugat del Vallès)... Additionally, fluency in Catalan is a requirement for many jobs in Catalonia.

Info obtained from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_language

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