views updated May 08 2018


BARCELONA , Mediterranean port in Catalonia, northeast Spain, seat of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the country. Amram *Gaon sent his version of the prayer book to "the scholars of Barcelona." In 876/7 a Jew named Judah (Judacot) was the intermediary between the city and the emperor Charles the Bald. Tenth- and eleventh-century sources mention Jews owning land in and around the city. The prominence of Jews in Barcelona is suggested by the statement of an Arabic chronicler that there were as many Jews as Christians in the city, but a list of 1079 records only 60 Jewish names. The book of Usatges ("Custumal") of Barcelona (1053–71) defines the Jews' legal status. Jewish ownership of real estate continued: the site of the ancient Jewish cemetery is still known as Montjuich. A number of Jewish tombstones have been preserved. From the end of the 11th century the Jews lived in a special quarter in the heart of the old city, near the main gate and not far from the harbor. The area known as Call, the name of the Jewish quarter throughout Catalonia, is still echoed in the names of some of its streets that contain the word, such as Carrer del Call. (The word call derives from the Latin callum). Barcelona's Jews were subject to the jurisdiction of the counts of Barcelona. The forms of contract used by Jews there from an early date formed the basis of the Sefer ha-Shetarot of *Judah b. Barzillai al-Bargeloni, written at the beginning of the 12th century. In the first half of the 11th century, some Barcelonan Jews were minters, and coins have been found bearing the name of the Jewish goldsmith who minted them. In 1104, four Jews of Barcelona received the monopoly to repatriate Muslim prisoners of war to southern Spain. Shortly afterward, *Abraham b. Ḥiyya was using his mathematical knowledge in the service of the king of Aragon and the counts of Barcelona, possibly assisting them to apportion territories conquered from the Muslims. Abraham's role in the transmission of Greco-Arabic culture to the Jews north of the Pyrenees who did not know Arabic was crucial. His encyclopedic works in Hebrew presented the scientific and philosophical legacy that was available in Arabic to the Jews of Christian Europe. It was probably due to his residence in Barcelona, a city that was for a very brief period under Muslim rule, but otherwise the most important city in Christian Spain in the early stages of the Reconquista, that Abraham b. Hiyya was so appreciative of the need to disseminate in Hebrew the treasures of the Greco-Arabic world. The Jewish community reached the peak of its prestige in the 13th century, when the Crown of Aragon, under James i, doubled the size of its territories. Besides the important members of the community who served the kings and counts, the community had very distinguished scholars who were among its political, financial, religious, and intellectual leaders.

Communal Life

Documents of the second half of the 11th century contain the first mention of nesi'im ("princes"; see *nasi) of the house of Sheshet (see Sheshet b. Isaac *Benveniste), who served the counts as suppliers of capital, advisers on Muslim affairs, Arab secretaries, and negotiators. From the middle of the 12th century the counts would frequently appoint Jews also as bailiffs (baile) of the treasury; some of these were also members of the Sheshet family. Christian anti-Jewish propaganda in Barcelona meanwhile increased. In 1263 a public *disputation was held at Barcelona in which *Naḥmanides confronted Pablo *Christiani in the presence of James i of Aragon. The bailiff and mintmaster of Barcelona at the time was Benveniste de Porta, the last Jew to hold this office. In 1283, as a result of the French invasion following the conquest of Sicily by Pedro i, "the Great," the Catalan noblemen, joined by their Aragonese and Valencian counterparts, forced Pedro to give up his Jewish civil servants who had occupied numerous positions throughout the Kingdom of Aragon. The Jews were subsequently replaced by Christian aristocrats and burghers and Jews from families whose ancestors had formerly acquired wealth in the service of the counts now turned to commerce and moneylending. Many of them returned to the communal political arena and aspired to hold important positions in the community leadership. However, learned Jews such as Judah *Bonsenyor continued to perform literary services for the sovereign. In 1294 Jaime ii gave him the monopoly on all Hebrew and Arabic documents drawn up in the territory of Barcelona. By the beginning of the 13th century, a number of Jewish merchants and financiers had become sufficiently influential to displace the nesi'im in the conduct of communal affairs. In 1241, James i granted the Barcelona's Jewish community a constitution to be administered by a group of ne'emanim (secretarii, or "administrative officers") – all drawn from among the wealthy, who were empowered to enforce discipline in religious and social matters and to try monetary suits. James further extended the powers of these officials in 1272. The class struggle within the Jewish community that erupted in 1263 in Saragossa and spread throughout the communities in the Kingdom of Aragon did not greatly affect the political regime in Barcelona. Nevertheless, one of the institutions that served as the community's parliament, the Council of Thirty or Eẓat ha-Sheloshim, was established on the model of the municipal Council of the Hundred or Concell de Trente. Solomon b. Abraham *Adret was now the leading halakhic authority and public figure in Barcelona, a position he enjoyed for about 50 years. Under his guidance, the Barcelonan Jewish community became foremost in Spain in scholarship, wealth, and public esteem. He and his sons were among the seven ne'emanim, and he must have favored the new constitution. The ne'emanim did not admit to their number either intellectuals whose beliefs were suspect or shopkeepers and artisans. When the controversy over the study of sciences and philosophy took place in the years 1303–5 at the end of Adret's life, the intellectuals of Barcelona did not therefore dare to voice their opinions. In 1305, Adret prohibited, under ban, youth under 25 years of age from studying sciences and philosophy (except medicine): this provision was also signed by the ne'emanim and the 30 members of the Community Council.

A third constitution was adopted in 1327, by which time the community had been augmented, in 1306, by 60 families of French exiles. The privileges, such as exemption from taxes, enjoyed by Jews close to the court, were now abolished, and, alongside the body of ne'emanim, legal status was accorded to the "Council of Thirty," an institution that had begun to develop early in the 14th century. The new regulations helped to strengthen the governing body. Several Spanish Jewish communities used this constitution as a model. Berurei averot ("magistrates for misdemeanors") were appointed for the first time in 1338 to punish offenders against religion and the accepted code of conduct. In the following year berurei tevi'ot ("magistrates for claims") were elected to try monetary suits. The communal jurisdiction of Barcelona, which at times acted on behalf of all the communities of the Crown of Aragon, that is, Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia, Majorca, and Roussillon, extended to several communities, both small and large, which were included in its collecta. The collecta was an inter-communal organization originally created to facilitate the collection of the royal taxes but subsequently served other purposes as well. The collecta of Barcelona was headed by the community of Barcelona and included the communities of Tarragona, Montblanch, Villafranca, and Cervera. The other Catalan collectas were those of Gerona-Besalú, Léida (Lleida), and Tortosa. A nationwide body, consisting of seven members acting on behalf of Catalan Jewry, operated under the leadership of the community of Barcelona.

The community of Barcelona, called aljama as in the rest of the peninsula, had a number of institutions that were found in most communities throughout the medieval Jewish world. It had several synagogues, some of which had special characteristics. The sinagoga mayor was the Great Synagogue that was visited by James i during the *Barcelona Disputation. This synagogue has recently been restored. Another synagogue was the sinagoga de les dones (The Ladies' Synagogue), probably so called because it had special sections for women. The sinagoga de los franceses (The Synagogue of the French) was founded by the 60 Jewish families that were absorbed in Barcelona after the expulsion of 1306. The Jewish cemetery was situated on Montjuich (the Mountain of the Jews), where some tombstones with Hebrew inscriptions were found. An interesting inscription was discovered in a building in the call indicating that it was donated by the famous Rabbi Samuel ha-Sardi, probably to serve as a talmud torah.

The community suffered severely during the *Black Death of 1348. Most of the "thirty" and the ne'emanim perished in the plague, and the Jewish quarter was attacked by the mob. Despite protection extended by the municipality, several Jews were killed. In December 1354, delegates for the communities of Catalonia and the province of Valencia convened in Barcelona with the intention of establishing a national roof organization for the Jewish communities of the kingdom in order to rehabilitate them after the devastations of the plague. In the second half of the century R. Nissim *Gerondi restored the yeshivah of Barcelona to its former preeminence. Among his disciples were R. *Isaac b. Sheshet and R. Ḥasdai *Crescas, both members of old, esteemed Barcelonan families who took part in the community administration after the late 1360s.

Economic Life

The Jews of Barcelona owned extensive property in the city and its surroundings. In the 13th century they held quite a substantial part of the real estate in the region. This property was mostly in the hands of the wealthy class. The Jews were mainly occupied as artisans and merchants, some of them engaging in overseas trade. They played an important role in maritime trade thanks to their international connections with Jewish merchants throughout the Mediterranean basin, their easy communication in Hebrew, which was universally used by Jews, and their ability to have partners, agents, and hosts in many localities. They overcame some of the difficulties that Christian and Muslim merchants encountered in trade between their two worlds. Sources from the Archivo Capitular of Barcelona show the extent of the participation of the Jews of the city in the trade between Catalonia and Muslim countries in the eastern Mediterranean. The Catalans spared no effort in putting an end to the predominance of Jewish merchants from Barcelona in trade with Muslim countries. They turned to the law prohibiting trade of certain merchandise with the Muslims. When this failed they used the Papal Inquisition to make trade with the east risky and costly. Many Jews returning from the east found themselves arrested and charged as soon as they landed in Barcelona. The king yielded to the demands of the Christian merchants of Barcelona and practically put an end to the commercial activities of the Jews overseas, particularly in Egypt and Syria. By the beginning of the 14th century Jews no longer played an important role in the trade with Muslims. The elimination of Jewish competition in maritime trade was considered a vital goal that was finally achieved. In another field of economic activity where there was much criticism of the Jews but no alternative was found, the Jewish moneylenders continued their credit transactions.

Most of the Jews in Barcelona were engaged in crafts and other professions. We know that the Jewish bookbinders of Barcelona had their own confraternity. There were also some professionals, such as physicians, translators, and interpreters.

The Decline

Around 1367 the Jews were charged with desecrating the *Host, several community leaders being among the accused. Three Jews were put to death, and for three days the entire community, men, women, and children, were detained in the synagogue without food. Since they did not confess, the king ordered their release. However, Nissim Gerondi, Isaac b. Sheshet, Ḥasdai Crescas, and several other dignitaries were imprisoned for a brief period.

The community gradually recovered after these misfortunes. Jewish goldsmiths, physicians, and merchants were again employed at court. After Isaac b. Sheshet's departure from Barcelona and Nissim Gerondi's death, Ḥasdai Crescas was almost the sole remaining notable; he led the community for about 20 years. The main element in the Barcelona community was now the artisans – weavers, dyers, tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and coral-workers. These were organized into confraternities and now demanded their share in the communal administration. After the long period in which the ruling oligarchy had been exercising their authority to their own advantage, the 1327 charter was abolished by royal edict in 1386. A new charter was approved by which representatives of the two lower estates, the merchants and artisans, shared in the administration.

During the persecutions of 1391, the city fathers and even the artisans of Barcelona tried to protect the Jews of the city, but without success. The violence in Barcelona was instigated by a band of Castilians, who had taken part in the massacres in Seville and Valencia and arrived in Barcelona by boat. News of the onslaught on the Jewish quarter in Majorca set off the attack on Saturday, August 5. About 100 Jews were killed and a similar number sought refuge in the "New Castle" in the newer and second Jewish quarter. The gate of the call and the notarial archives were set on fire and looting continued throughout that day and night. The Castilians were arrested and ten were sentenced to the gallows. The following Monday, however, the "little people" (populus minutus), mostly dock workers and fishermen, broke down the prison doors and stormed the castle. Many Jews were killed. At the same time, serfs from the surrounding countryside attacked the city, burned the court records of the bailiff, seized the fortress of the royal vicar, and gave the Jews who had taken refuge there the alternative of death or conversion. The plundering and looting continued throughout that week. Altogether about 400 Jews were killed; the rest were converted. Only a few of them (including Ḥasdai Crescas, whose son, newly married, was among the martyrs) escaped to the territories owned by the nobility or to North Africa. At the end of the year John i condemned 26 of the rioters to death but acquitted the rest. In 1393 John took measures to rehabilitate the Jewish community in Barcelona. He allotted the Jews a new residential quarter and ordered the return of the old cemetery. All their former privileges were restored and a tax exemption was granted for a certain period, as well as a moratorium on debts. Ḥasdai was authorized to transfer Jews from other places to resettle Barcelona, but only a few were willing to move. The project failed. Reestablishment of a Jewish community in Barcelona was finally prohibited in 1401 by Martin i in response to the request of the burghers. Thus the Jewish community of Barcelona ceased to exist a hundred years before the expulsion.

The Conversos

While Jews no longer resided in the city, the *Conversos, those forcibly converted during the massacres, continued to live there. The renewed prosperity of Barcelona during the 15th century should be credited in part to the Conversos, who developed wide-ranging commercial and industrial activities. Despite protests by the city fathers, in 1486 Ferdinand decided to introduce the Inquisition on the Castilian model in Barcelona. At the outset of the discussions on procedure the Conversos began to withdraw their deposits from the municipal bank and to leave the city. The most prosperous merchants fled, credit and commerce declined, the artisans suffered, and economic disaster threatened. The inquisitors entered Barcelona in July 1487. Some ships with refugees on board were detained in the harbor. Subsequently several high-ranking officials of Converso descent were charged with observing Jewish religious rites and put to death. In 1492 many of the Jews expelled from Aragon embarked from Barcelona on their way abroad.

20th Century

At the beginning of the 20th century a few Jewish peddlers from Morocco and Turkey settled in Barcelona. After Salonika came under Greek rule in 1912 and the announcement by the Spanish government of its willingness to encourage settlement of Sephardi Jews on its territory (1931), Jews from Turkey, Greece, and other Balkan countries migrated to Barcelona. Other Jews arrived from Poland during World War i, followed by immigrants from North Africa, and by artisans – tailors, cobblers, and hatmakers – from Poland and Romania. There were over 100 Jews in Barcelona in 1918, while in 1932 the figure rose to more than 3,000, mostly of Sephardi origin. After 1933 some German Jews established ribbon, leather, and candy industries. By 1935 Barcelonan Jewry numbered over 5,000, the Sephardim by now being a minority. During the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), many left for France and Palestine. Some of the German Jews left the city after the Republican defeat in 1939, but during and after World War ii Barcelona served as a center for refugees, maintained by the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and others returned to resettle.

The Barcelonan community, consisting of approximately 3,000 people in 1968 and 3,500 in 2000, is the best organized in Spain. The communal organization unites both Sephardi and Ashkenazi synagogues. There is also a community center, which includes a rabbinical office and cultural center. The community runs a Jewish day school and Chabad is active in the city. Youth activities include summer camps and a Maccabi movement. An old-age home supported by Jewish agencies outside Spain is maintained. The University of Barcelona offers courses in Jewish studies. Together with leaders of the Madrid community, Barcelona community heads were received in 1965 by General Franco, the first meeting between a Spanish head of state and Jewish leaders since 1492.


J. Fiter Ingles, Expulsíon de los judios de Barcelona (1876); Loeb, in: rej, 4 (1882), 57–77; F. de Bofarull y Sans, Los judíos en el territorio de Barcelona (1910); J. Miret y Sans and M. Schwab, Documents de juifs Catalans des xie, xiie et xiie siécles (1915), 191; idem, in: Boletin de la Real Academia de la Historia, 69 (1916), 569–82; Baer, Urkunden, 1 pt. 1 (1929), index; Prevosti, in: Sefarad, 10 (1951), 75–90; A. López de Meneses, in: Estudios de Edad Media de la Corona de Aragón, 5 (1952), 677; idem, in: Sefarad, 19 (1959), 97–106, 323ff.; Madurell y Marimón, ibid., 16 (1956), 369–98; 17 (1957), 73–102; 18 (1958), 60–82; 21 (1961), 300–38; 22 (1962), 345–72; 23 (1963), 74–104; 25 (1965), 247–82; 27 (1967), 290–8; Baron, Social2, 4 (1957), 34, 249, notes 37f.; Cardoner, in: Sefarad, 22 (1962), 373–5; Suárez Fernández, Documentos, index; Baer, Spain, index; Millás Vallicrosa, in: Sefarad, 27 (1967), 64–70. add. bibliography: J. Shatzmiller, in: Meḥkarim be-Toledot Am Yisrael, 3 (1980), 121–37; J-L. Palos, in: L'Aven, 47 (1982), 21–31; L. Feldman, in: Genuzot, 1 (1984), 67–98; D. Abulafia, in: Viator, 16 (1985), 209–42; D. Romano, in: G. Dahan (ed.), Les juifs au regard de l'histoire, (1985), 195–99; E. Lourie, in: Mediterranean Historical Reviewi (1986), 187–220; E. Feliu i Mabres, in: Calls, 2 (1987), 145–79; Y. Assis, in: Galut aḥar Golah (1988), 257–83; idem, in: Jornades d'história dels jueus a Catalunya (1987), Actes, (1990), 77–92; M. Cinta Mañé, The Jews in Barcelona, 12131291; Y Assis (ed.), Regesta of Documents from the Archivo Capitular (1988); Y. Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry (1997), index, s.v. Barcelona; idem, Jewish Economy in the Medieval Crown of Aragon, (1997), index, s.v. Barcelona. modern period: M. Fernández Matorell, Estudio antropológico: una comunidad judía (1984); M. Berthlot, Historia oral de la comunidad israelita de Barcelona (Barcelona 19141954) (2001).

[Zvi Avneri and

Haim Beinart /

Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]


views updated Jun 08 2018


BARCELONA. Barcelona, capital city of Catalonia, is located on the Mediterranean coast in northeastern Spain. The city is nestled on a plain between the Sierra de Collserola and the sea, in the shadow of the promontory of Montjuic, and is bordered to the north and south by the Besós and Llobregat rivers. Key to Barcelona's success as an important port in the fifteenth century was its geographic position within the crown of Aragón. The lack of navigable rivers in Catalonia limited interior trade to overland routes that converged at Barcelona's port. Barcelona served as a major node along the coastal trade route from southern France to Valencia and beyond, and together with the ports of Mallorca and Valencia, controlled the western end of the Mediterranean.

The city originated as a Roman fort constructed on a knoll, which has remained the religious and political center of the city. In the late Middle Ages, the city outgrew this fortification and expanded down to the sea. New perimeter fortifications were constructed, the seaside wall not being completed until 1536. The city's interior was renowned for its numerous religious and civic monuments. As the political seat of Catalonia, Barcelona housed in its center the palaces of the king and the Diputació del General, the principality's treasury. The city was governed from the palace of the Consell de Cent, a council of five executives and a jury of one hundred "honored citizens." The royal shipyard (the drassanes ) dominated the western end of the port district, and the maritime merchant hall (Llotja de Mar) governed the busy port.

Barcelona's medieval prosperity was abruptly cut off by the civil war of 1462; ten years of violence tore apart the political, social, and economic fabric of the city, as well as damaging its international trade. By 1487, the contraction of trade was worsened by a rising of the Catalan peasantry and prosecutions of converted Jews by the Inquisition. By the end of the fifteenth century, Barcelona, with approximately 25,000 inhabitants, was the most densely populated city of Catalonia. Nonetheless, because of repeated waves of bubonic plague, the city's population rose only to about 29,000 by 1516.

The loss of Barcelona's Mediterranean markets was not compensated by the sixteenth-century exploration of the Americas, since this new market was dominated by Castile. Barcelona emerged from an unsuccessful rebellion against the Habsburgs in 16401652 with its traditional political privileges intact. It lost those privileges by fighting against Spain's new Bourbon dynasty in the War of the Spanish Succession (17011714). Moreover, the city's population, which stood at about 64,000 in 1657, had fallen to 37,000 by 1713. Economically, Barcelona recovered slowly from the war, but by the end of the eighteenth century, the city benefited from a flourishing industry in cotton textiles and the opening of trade to Spanish America.

See also Catalonia ; Catalonia, Revolt of (16401652) ; Spanish Succession, War of the (17011714) .


Carrère, Claude. Barcelona, 13801462: Un centre econòmic en època de crisi, vol. 2. Barcelona, 1978.

Hughes, Robert. Barcelona. New York, 1992.

Kern, Robert, ed. Historical Dictionary of Modern Spain, 17001988. New York, 1990.

Sobrequés i Callicó, Jaume, ed. Historia de Barcelona, 8 vols. Barcelona, 1992.

Treppo, Mario del. Els mercaders catalans i l'expansiódela corona catalano-aragonesa al segle XV. Barcelona, 1976.

Shelley E. Roff


views updated May 21 2018


city changes and convent burning
social unrest and anarchism
tragic week
gold fever
the universal exposition

Until the end of the eighteenth century Barcelona had a long tradition in the production and overseas trade of textiles. Textile and wine production represented the two most important sectors of the Catalan economy. In the textile industry, the effects of early industrialization were evident in signs of workers' unrest. Peasants and workers from factories outside the Barcelona wall kept migrating to the city looking for jobs in the mills. Unemployment, taxes, and high corn prices caused the food riots of March 1789. In this year 130,000 people lived in cramped conditions inside the city walls.

Barcelona began the nineteenth century with an economic disaster. Spain had sided with the French during the Napoleonic Wars, which brought about a British blockade of Spanish trade with America. The corresponding slowdown in textile and wine production caused widespread unemployment. Exports to the American colonies declined drastically, from 20 million pesetas in 1804 to fifty thousand in 1807. When Napoleon's army occupied the peninsula from 1804 to 1814, Catalonia refused to acknowledge the French monarch who seized the throne. Like the rest of the cities in the peninsula, Barcelona was occupied, but resistance in the countryside continued. The French presence made Catalans reconsider the future course of their state. In 1810 a national parliament met in Cadiz and laid the basis for a new liberal bourgeois state. However, when King Ferdinand VII (r. March–May 1808, 1814–1833) returned in 1814, he effectively allied with the church, the nobility, and other conservative groups to block liberal reform.

city changes and convent burning

The changes to Old Barcelona during the nineteenth century were the result of the French occupation, of the continuous attacks on the symbols of royal authority and the church, and of town planning by liberal politicians. During the French occupation, convents and monasteries were emptied and used as barracks, stores, and stables. The fourteenth-century convent of Jonqueres became a military hospital. The Cementiri de l'Est (Eastern Cemetery) was inaugurated on a plot of land on the outskirts of the city. Although initially opposed by many, by the end of the century it became accepted as one of Barcelona's landmarks. In 1820, during a brief period of liberalism, a project to improve the status of the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) began. The squares of Plaça Reial, the Plaça Sant Jaume, and the Carrer de Ferran marked the first stage of the project. The project of the Plaça Sant Jaume required the demolition of one of the finest Romanesque churches in Barcelona, the Church of Sant Jaume. In 1821 a paved street, a continuation of the line of the Ramblas, was designed to link the Ramblas with the village of Gracia, thus emerging as the Paseo de Gracia. This area became popular among the upper middle classes when a park called the Camps Elisis was built in 1853 next to the Paseo de Gracia. This new site replaced the Jardi del General, which was located in the port area, as the most attractive place for Barcelonese social life. The Camps Elisis offered extensive promenades among fountains, inns, dance halls, and an open theater. As the botanical gardens were moved out of the walls in 1834, a breach was opened for the first time in the city walls to connect the gardens with the Paseo de Gracia.

When Ferdinand VII died, a conflict over the legitimacy of the Bourbon succession broke out in 1833. In the summer of 1835 revolutionary mobs who opposed absolutism burned many convents; among them the great Cistercian abbey of Poblet, the Benedictine monastery of Sant Cugat del Valles, and the Carthusian convents of Scala Dei and Montalegre. In Barcelona, angry crowds destroyed the interior of the church and convent of the Carme. Infuriated workers attacked the first steam factory of Spain, the Bonaplata works, burning it down.

In 1837 the liberal government declared that all church land inside the city walls could be sold by auction. The entrepreneurship of the bourgeoisie who had acquired this land brought about the destruction of important buildings: the Royal Chapel of Saint Agatha, the sixteenth-century Convent of Saint Joseph and the fourteenth-century Convent of Saint Mary of Jerusalem. Only then did the city have space for the emergence of new buildings that would enhance Barcelona's cultural life. The Theater del Liceu was originally built in 1847 on the site of an old convent. Although the Liceu was destroyed by a fire in 1861, the construction of a new edifice within a year indicates the importance that the city's elites placed on opera. The Palau de la Música Catalana was built on the site of the Church of Saint Vincent de Paul to house a musical organization called Orfeó Català. The Plaça Reial was designed by Francesc-Daniel Molina i Casamajo, modeled after residential squares of France. The shine of the Plaça Reial darkened after 1880, when the bourgeoisie who had occupied its luxurious apartments moved to the Eixample, the new urban development of the city. The municipality established a committee in 1848 to control the building of highways. Between 1840 and 1860 the railway expanded, and a modern port opened to allow for the growth of trade.

social unrest and anarchism

In 1843 the Barcelonese revolted against the liberal government. The insurrection became known as the Pastry Cooks' revolt because it began as a small merchant and artisan protest influenced by socialists, and later became an integral part of Catalan politics from the 1840s onward.

Barcelona's population rose to 189,000 in 1850. The living and working conditions for workers in Barcelona worsened; wages decreased 11 percent between 1849 and 1862. In 1854, after a cholera epidemic, many enraged unemployed industrial workers took part in the demolition of the city walls, which were seen as a symbol of oppression. Malnutrition, sickness, and appalling living conditions were the norm among the working class. By the end of the century anarchist ideas had permeated the workers in Barcelona. Throughout the 1890s Barcelona saw a continuous chain of bomb explosions. The targets of these attacks were the authorities and the rich. One bomb exploded during an opera at the Liceu, killing fourteen people. Another spectacular episode occurred when a bomb was thrown at a religious procession on the feast of Corpus Christi in 1896. The authorities responded with a general roundup of anarchists and anticlericals, some of whom who were tortured in Montjuic. Some of them were convicted and executed, while others were sent into exile.

tragic week

The 1898 loss of Cuba to the United States was one of the biggest humiliations in Spanish history. This event had important repercussions for Catalan industry; without colonial markets, the economic growth of Barcelona slowed. Several sectors of Catalan society demanded drastic government reforms. By 1900 class warfare was the biggest threat to Barcelona's economic and political progress. A violent episode of mass revolts known as the "Tragic Week" occurred in Barcelona on July 1909. Eighty buildings were set on fire, most of them convents and parish churches. Although it is clear that the power and influence of the church in secular matters was challenged, Catalan regionalism also played an important role.


In the 1860s several intellectuals, inspired by the idea that Catalan culture was under attack from foreign influence, began a campaign to revive interest in folk culture—literature, language, and music—where, according to them, the roots of Catalanism laid. This idealization of the Catalan past was the origin of a cultural movement called the Renaixença (the Renaissance or rebirth). Anselm Clere, a musician with political interests, contributed to the emergence of a new appreciation for popular songs. In poetry, Antoni de Bofarull i de Brocà promoted the work of poets in Catalan. In 1859 the Salo de Cent de Barcelona hosted a literary showcase called the Jocs Florals, whose origin dated from the Middle Ages. During the first ten years of the Restoration, Catalanism was transformed from a cultural movement into a political one. The first Catalan-language newspaper was founded in Barcelona in 1879. Three years later, a political party called Centre Català was founded and became the unifying organization for Catalanist aspirations.

gold fever

Between 1876 and 1883 there was a surge in economic growth; production in the cotton industry tripled and sixteen new banks were created. During this period, known as the Febre d'Or, or "gold fever," massive amounts of credit were used to finance railroads, mines, and urbanization. The largest urban-planning project of the century was commissioned to Ildefons Cerdà, a civil engineer who firmly believed that the embrace of technological innovations—gas, steam, and electricity—could improve peoples' living conditions. Unlike other European cities, Barcelona's old city did not need to be altered because there was open space between the city and the adjacent towns that surrounded the city. Modern Barcelona has been the result of a process of conurbation—the city growing outward, and the hinterland towns growing to meet it. The Eixample, as the new part of the city is called, was a grid with no relation to the old city. A modular city with no center, it could be expanded without apparent limits. Cerdà's contemporary critics found his project vulgar and monotonous. On 4 October 1860 Queen Isabella II (r. 1833–1868) laid the first stone of the Eixample. By 1872 there were around one thousand residential buildings housing forty thousand people. The buildings were not equipped with proper drainage and water supply; as a result, by 1890 the Eixample was regularly hit by epidemics of cholera and typhoid. Cerdà had planned for structures 57 feet high, but already by 1891 new building codes allowed 65-foot constructions.

In 1870 two public markets were built: the Mercat del Born and the Mercat de Sant Antoni. In the Eixample, the new University of Barcelona was built in 1868 under the design of architect Elias Rogent i Amat. This building was an amalgam of architectural styles, but its Catalan Romanesque reflected national sensibilities emphasized by intellectuals of the Renaixenca. La Ciutadella (The Citadel) had survived the destruction of the Bourbon walls early in the century. During the Revolution of 1868 La Ciutadella was destroyed, and a public park and private housing was built on its site.

the universal exposition

By 1883 the Catalan economic boom came to an end. A plague that had destroyed French vineyards reached Catalonia, where it destroyed the industry almost in its totality. The situation worsened when a crisis at the Paris stock exchange drove the Catalan economy into a recession. Migration to Barcelona was a consequence of fewer opportunities in the region. While in 1887 one of seven Catalans lived in the city, by 1900 one in four Catalans lived in Barcelona. By 1834 the population was 135,000, and by 1900 it had risen to 500,000. The Exposition of 1888 was organized with the hope of bringing fast relief to the stagnant economy. The most important symbol of Barcelona was the statue of Christopher Columbus built in the Place del Portal de la Pau. Nineteenth-century Catalans believed that Columbus was Catalan. It is significant that the statue is pointing to the sea with its back to Castile, a gesture of the tension that existed between the central government in Madrid and Catalonia. Several avenues were urbanized to prepare the city for the major event. In

1882 the Passeig de Colom was the first street in the city to have electric light. Given the lack of first-class lodgings, the Gran Hotel International was a much-needed structure for the occasion. It was built in fifty-three days and was not able to satisfy the demand for lodging. The Exposition remained opened for nine months and attracted around six thousand people a day.


The last decade of the nineteenth century brought a sense of confidence in the economic prospects for the future. Nevertheless, labor strikes and anarchist attacks darkened the optimism of the middle classes. The colonias industrials were built in response to workers' demands. In these communal factory towns, the bosses would provide food, education, housing, and medical assistance. Eusebi Güell, one of the richest entrepreneurs in Catalonia, commissioned Antoni Gaudi for the construction of the church in the mill town that Güell was building to improve living and working conditions. In the 1890s a group of very talented and imaginative architects gave the city some of the most important buildings of the century. Catalan modernism was a combination of styles—mainly Gothic and Arabic—that found its inspiration in the past. The most remarkable landmark of early Modernista architecture is the Café-Restaurant by architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner. In this building, he defied architectural standards by using mostly brick, a material considered unattractive. Domenech was commissioned to design several private residences: the Editorial Montaner i Simon, the Casa Tomas, and the Casa Iuster. His biggest project was the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, or Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul. This project was welcomed by the Barcelonese, who until 1900 did not have an acceptable general hospital. Domenech wanted to create an original and appealing building in order to break with the similarities between hospitals and prisons.

The next great architect of Barcelona was Josep Puig i Cadafalch. He was mostly interested in High Gothic style. His most remarkable works are also private residences: the Casa de les Punxes, or the House of Points, built in 1903–1905, and the Casa Amatller in 1898. Antoni Gaudi is still considered by many the most grandiose architect of Catalan origin since the Middle Ages. The Guell park was commissioned to Gaudi when he was fifty years old. This project was originally designed to become a high-income housing enterprise. With the construction materials and designs used in the park, Gaudi made a statement on Catalan nationalism. Gaudi saw Catalans as inherently different from all other Spaniards in all respects. Gaudi remodeled La Casa Batllo for the textile tycoon Josep Batllo. After this project, he began the Casa Mila', known as La Pedrera, or "The Stone Quarry." His project of crowning the building with a gigantic sculpture of the Virgin Mary was canceled in response to the events of the Tragic Week. In 1884 Gaudi started working on the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family), a project that had been started by another architect. According to Catholic conservatives, the Sagrada Familia was meant to be a place of prayer and contrition for the sins of modernism that were displacing the traditional world. It was never finished for lack of funds. Gaudi begged from door to door for money to complete the project. Japanese foundations and Spanish Catholics still contribute to its construction with important sums, but it remains incomplete.

See alsoCities and Towns; Spain.


Connelly Ullman, Joan. The Tragic Week: A Study of Anti-clericalism in Spain, 1875–1912. Cambridge, Mass., 1968.

Ealham, Chris. Class, Culture, and Conflict in Barcelona, 1898–1937. London, 2005.

Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. Barcelona: A Thousand Years of the City's Past. London, 1991.

Hughes, Robert. Barcelona. New York, 1992.

Thomson, J. K. J. A Distinctive Industrialization: Cotton in Barcelona, 1728–1832. New York, 1992.

Wray McDonogh, Gary. Good Families of Barcelona: A Social History of Power in the Industrial Era. Princeton: N.J., 1986.

Eloina M. Villegas Tenorio


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Barcelona City and Mediterranean port in ne Spain, capital of Catalonia and Spain's second-largest city. Reputedly founded by the Carthaginian Barca family, it was ruled by Romans, Visigoths, and Moors and by the late Middle Ages had become a major trading centre. It is the focus of radical political and Catalan separatist movements. The autonomous Catalan government based here (1932–39) was swept away by the Spanish Civil War. Modern Barcelona is the cosmopolitan, cultural capital of Spain. The 1992 summer Olympic Games were held here. Historic buildings include the gothic Cathedral of Santa Eulalia (13th–15th century), the Church of the Sagrada Familia designed by Antonio Gaudí (begun 1882), and the Monument to Christopher Columbus. There are two universities, a Museum of Modern Art, and the Picasso Museum. Barcelona is an important shipping, banking and financial centre. Industries: vehicles, textiles, machinery, petrochemicals, electrical goods. Pop. (1997) 1,505,581.


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Barcelona ★★★ 1994 (PG-13)

Oldfashioned talkfest about two neurotic Americans experiencing sibling rivalry in Spain. Serious Ted (Nichols) is an American sales rep, posted to Barcelona, who can't quite get into the city's pleasureloving rhythm. This is not a problem for Ted's cousin Fred (Eigeman), an obnoxious naval officer, with whom Ted has had a rivalry dating back to their boyhood. Set in the 1980s, the two must also deal with antiAmericanism, which leads both to violence and romantic developments. Tart dialogue, thoughtful performances, and exotic locales prove enticing in lowbudget sleeper that effectively mixes drama and dry comedy. Watch for Eigeman in Tom Cruise's uniform from “A Few Good Men.” 102m/C VHS, DVD . Taylor Nichols, Christopher Eigeman, Tushka Bergen, Mira Sorvino, Pep Munne, Francis Creighton, Thomas Gibson, Jack Gilpin, Nuria Badia, Hellena Schmied; D: Whit Stillman; W: Whit Stillman; C: John Thomas; M: Tom Judson, Mark Suozzo. Ind. Spirit '95: Cinematog.

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