First time I travelled solo to Barcelona, I spent 5 full crazy days and nights that led to a promise to myself to live there and work in one of the 2 high towers near the Mediterranean sea. Exactly one year later, I had started my traineeship in a company at the 21st floor of Mapfre Tower, the business office building next to the beach. Now when I look back at the 9 months spent in the city, there’s no surprise why I felt so much in my element. Here are my top 5 reasons why I believe Barcelona is a great city to live in.
1. Amazing weather
Barcelona is one of the sunniest cities in Europe and you can almost count on one hand the number of days a year that are not sunny. The city with its subtropical Mediterranean climate enjoys warm summers that in August peaks around 34 degrees, and mild winters where the average temperature doesn’t get above 12 degrees. I often say that Catalans must have been blessed by the God of the Sun to have this wonderful weather.
I believe that sunny and warm weather uplifts my mood and boosts my energy level but according to scientific studies, things are pretty controversial. A study from the University of Michigan supports my belief stating the fact that warm and sunny weather can have a positive impact on mental health and mood. However, many other studies, one in particular, from The Netherlands, argues that there’s no link between sun and happiness. Until scientists come to a common point on whether well-being is influenced by the weather or not, one fact is for sure: I feel more positive when I feel the sunshine on my face.
One of the facts that helped me become more open-minded and tolerant is actually meeting people from almost all over the globe, with curious and distinct cultures, beliefs and lifestyles. According to the 2015 municipal statistics, there are 1.6 million inhabitants, out of which 17% is constituted by foreign residents. In total, people of 166 different nationalities live in the city including international tourists and short-term expats, who choose Barcelona for exchange programs and internships.
Interacting with people from Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, Colombia, Spain, Australia and many other countries was a challenging experience that sometimes mirrored parts of me that I was not aware of and has to truly appreciate, and others that I needed to improve. So, multiculturalism is definitively a constant challenge I expose myself to consciously in order to stretch myself, grow and become a better version of myself.
3. Great attractions
There are many places in Barcelona that inspire, energize or calm me down. On the top of my list are: Tibidabo Mountain and the whole journey to get there, Montjuïc Castle, an old military fortress surrounded by fantastic gardens and parks, MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya), The Magic Fountain and the Olympic Stadium. When I am in the search for creativity, I simply go for long strolls around the city, especially in the Gothic Quarter and El Born, where I get lost almost all the time in the medieval alleyways.
One of my favourite places is Placa Sant Felip Neri, a romantic and hidden square that marks the entrance to Barcelona’s Jewish Quarter. This little corner of the Gothic area boasts a charming fountain in its centre surrounded by a baroque church and a school filled during the daytime with playful children. By night, this place breathes tranquility and mystery. The lights emphasize the wounds engraved into the façade of the church inflicted during the Civil War on the 30th of January 1938, when 42 people were killed in a bombing raid. Despite its visible tragic story, this square remains one of Barcelona’s most romantic places, reminding us that love transcends any tragedy.
4. Carefree atmosphere
On the narrow little streets of the old city and on the famous streets and boulevards such as La Rambla, Passeig de Gracia or El Portal d’Angel there are little chances to get away from the constant buzz of pub music, locals’ loud chatting on the terraces and partying young tourists. The overall feeling that I usually have is of joy, excitement and lightheartedness.
These characteristical Barcelona states of mind are a good reminder on a stressful and hard-working day, encouraging me to lighten up, breath in fully and cool down. Barcelona inspires people to have fun and relax but it’s its inhabitants’ responsibility to aim high, stay motivated and work hard and smart.
5. Impressive architecture
To me, Barcelona is one of the few European cities that has managed to find the right balance between artificial buildings and infrastructure and the natural environment. Architecture plays an important role in Barcelona’s culture and tourism, an essential reason why the city attracts over 7 million tourists each year. While some buildings date back to the 12th century, for example the Gothic Basilica Cathedral of Barcelona and Santa Maria del Mar church, others were built under the Catalan Modernist movement (1888-1911) by famous architects such as Antoni Gaudi, Lluis Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
Nine of the buildings from the Modernist era are actually included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which makes Barcelona the city with the most included sites on the list in the world. It’s hard to believe, but there are 7 artworks on the list that belong to one artist only, the incredible Antonio Gaudi: Park Güell, the Palau Güell, Casa Milà “La Pedrera”, the Nativity Façade and the crypt of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Casa Vicens and the crypt of Colonia Güell.
If you consider spending relaxing days in Barcelona, check out Blue Air current flights.
Here’s my picture collection about Barcelona’s lifestyle on Instagram.