Mild weather all year round, a unique culture and history, nine different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, exceptional architecture, beautiful beaches… It’s no wonder Barcelona receives more than 30 million tourists a year.
As a favorite tourist destination, there are many things the Catalan capital is distinguished for. Starting from the world-famous football club, Barcelona FC, going through Gaudí’s extraordinary architecture, to its mouth watering Mediterranean cuisine… There’s just so much Barcelona is known for!
However, this gem of the Mediterranean has many other curiosities that are less known, but are equally notable. We’ve drawn up a list of seven curiosities you’ll find in Barcelona, and which will make you fall more in love with this charming city!
Lesser-known curiosities of Barcelona
The magic of the castells
Barcelona has many different unique traditions. One of these remarkable centuries-old customs are the spectacular castells. Just picture a group of forty people forming a human tower about 11 meters high. This tradition is so unique that it was declared by UNESCO as one of a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
You can get the chance to see these in action at different local festivals and public festivities. This tradition probably sounds like an odd curiosity for you, but for the inhabitants of Barcelona it’s a well-known and beloved form of folklore. Neighborhoods such as L’Eixample or Gràcia both have their own casteller organizations, and you can also find some of the best Barcelona apartments in these areas.
Sant Jordi: the Catalan Valentine’s Day
Once a year, on April 23rd, Barcelona gets covered by roses and books to celebrate Sant Jordi day. This is the local equivalent of Valentine’s Day in other parts of the world, a day to celebrate love. Traditionally, boys would give roses to the girls they cared about, while girls would give them a book in exchange.
Nowadays, the tradition is not gender-specific, and roses and books are given to everyone. What’s remarkably beautiful about this day is the special atmosphere breathed in the air all around the city. You’ll find stalls selling books and roses in almost every single street. Besides, seeing everyone around you holding books or roses will make you want to participate as another local! Definitely a Barcelona curiosity worth experiencing.
The endless construction of Sagrada Familia
You’ve probably all heard the stories: Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia has been under construction forever, and has yet to be completed. But do you know how long it’s really been around? The construction of Gaudí’s masterpiece started in 1882 and is hoped to be completed in 2026, marking the centennial of the architect’s death. So don’t hold your breath!
As another curiosity of Barcelona, keep in mind that the Sagrada Familia will take much longer to complete than the Egyptian pyramids. While these only took twenty years to be constructed, the Sagrada Familia, by comparison, is expected to take 144 years to finish!
The fire of correfocs
By the end of this article, you’ll probably feel like nothing else can surprise you. Barcelona surely has some incredible curiosities, and the correfocs are just another one of these. One of most dazzling and eye-catching features present in Catalan festivals, the correfocs are groups of people dressed up as devils who jump around to the beat of drums, carrying light fireworks.
As a spectator, you can participate by dressing up to protect yourself from small potential burns and getting as close as possible to the devils. Or you can watch them from a safe distance. Correfocs are truly an awe-inspiring spectacle to behold. You can see them in action at public festivities such as La Mercè or the different neighborhood festivities throughout the year.
The special ambience of the sardana
If you’re looking for curiosities in Barcelona that are not necessarily found in tourist guides, you’re at the right place. Our next curiosity to see in Barcelona is yet another unique Catalan tradition, the sardana dance. Almost every Sunday, you can head over to the Cathedral of Barcelona and experience first-hand this symbol of Catalan unity and pride.
The dance consists of circles of people joining their hands together and raising them rhythmically. It is composed by small, precise steps, the group turning slowly as a whole while people join to make the circle bigger.
The Festes Majors
The Festes Majors are annual celebrations held in every municipality throughout Catalonia. Barcelona is no exception, but the Catalan capital takes this tradition to another level. There are no less than 73 neighborhoods in the city, and each of them has its own Festa Major! With each festival lasting a week, more or less, this means that there’s always a celebration going on somewhere in the city, a Barcelona curiosity you were probably not aware of!
The only city awarded with a Royal Gold Medal
As our last unusual fact in this list of curiosities in Barcelona, we’d like to point out that the Catalan capital is the first and only city to have received a Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 1999. This award, given annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects, usually recognizes and individual’s contribution to architecture. However, Barcelona is so rich in terms of architecture that the whole city was awarded. No other city in the world has ever surpassed this feat!