Main information

Population

1,505,581 in the city and a total of over 4,000,000 in city and suburbs.

Elevation

On the plain the elevation is only about 12 feet, but the city’s highest point, in the Collserola Hills at Tibidabo Amusement Park, is 1,680 feet above sea level.

Time Zone

Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour: Time in Lisbon is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in New York. (7 hours ahead of central time in Chicago, etc.) Barcelona uses the 24 hour clock, so the numeral 1 on a US watch would be read as 1in the early morning or 13 in the afternoon, etc. Transportation timetables and schedules will use this method of representation of time. (designations of am and pm are unnecessary)

International Dialing Code

All numbers for Barcelona begin with 93 and have 7 additional digits. The country code is 34. (use the country code only when calling Barcelona from another country).
Phone booths take coins. Some take credit cards and phone cards.
To call the US from Barcelona using your telephone calling card, please check with your card issuer as each company has its own codes.

Emergency

General: 112 police: 346 61 41;
fire: 080;
ambulance 061
Tourist Police 93 301 9060
Lost Property 93 402 3161
Directory Assistance/Operator: 1003

Accessing email and the internet

El Cafe de Internet Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 656 Tel.(+343) 4121915 / or 93 302 1154

Currency

Throughout Spain the medium of currency is the euro. The notes are in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 euro. The denominations of coins are 2 euro, 1 euro, 50 euro cent, 20 euro cent, 10 euro cent, 5 euro cent, 2 euro cent, and 1 euro cent. The easiest method of securing cash at the best exchange rate is to make withdrawals using a US credit card from the ATM machines found at the major banks and stores. As in the U.S., some banks charge a fee and a transaction tax, so check with the banks to find the best value.

Customs Regulations

Telephone Tourist information in New York City (212) 265-8822 for information.

Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit)

High Low
January – March 59 41
April – June 75 50
July – September 82 66
October – December 70 46

Winter evenings in Barcelona can be chilly. From mid April through mid June and from September through mid October, the weather is mild and pleasant. August often becomes so hot and humid that many businesses close for vacations. Rainfall is moderate throughout the year.

Useful Measurements

Equivalent Weights and Measures
1 cm – 0.39 inches
1 meter – 3.28 feet / 1.09 yards
1 km – 0.62 miles
1 liter – 0.26 gallons
1 inch – 2.54 cm
1 foot – 0.39 meters
1 yard – 0.91 meters
1 mile – 1.60 km
1 gallon – 3.78 liters

National Holidays

Jan. 1 New Year’s Day
January 6 Feast of the Epiphany (Els Reis)
March 19 Feast of St. Joseph
Good Friday (date varies – March or April)
Easter Monday (date varies – March or April)
June 24 Feast of St. Joan
June Midsummer’s Eve
August 15 Feast of the Assumption
September 11 La Diada: Catalan National Day
September 24 La Mercé Festival
October 12 Hispanitat: Spanish National Day
November 1 All Saints’ Day
December 6 Constitution Day
December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 St. Stephen’s Day

Religious Services

Roman Catholic: tel. 93 204 4962 (at Paroisse Françoise (Mass in French and English)

Anglican:
tel. 93 417 8867 (St. George’s Church)

Jewish:
tel. 93 200 6148 (Sinogoga de la Communidad)

Public restrooms

Public restrooms are difficult to find in most places. It is best to ask for els serveis (Catalan) or los aseos (Spanish) in a café, hotel or department store and be directed to the employee rest rooms. Always carry toilet tissue, as that is usually not provided.

Smoking

Many people in Spain smoke and very few restaurants have no smoking areas or tables.

Electricity

The electrical current in Spain is 220 volts, 50 cycle AC, and outlets have openings for two round pins. Some older buildings still have 125v systems, but plugs look the same for either system. The difference is that appliances such as heaters which require higher voltage should not be plugged into the 125v system. American appliances will need a plug adapter and will require a three tier standard travel converter if they do not have a dual voltage capability.

Visitors with disabilities

Spain is attempting to accommodate the needs of travelers with disabilities, but so far progress has been slow. Telephone Federació at 93 451 5550 for additional information.

Post Office

Spain’s postal service is called Correos. it is quite slow, but express (urgente) mail is available. Stamps can be purchased from tobacconists (estanc) Main Correos are open from 8-9 Mon.-Fri. and 9-7 on Saturday. In Catalan addresses, the street name is written first, followed by the number. Zip codes have 5 digits.

Getting Around

Barcelona has an excellent bus and Metro system. A map of the city and transportation systems is essential for ease of travel.

Metro

There are 5 color coded metro lines which are also numbered 1-5. Tickets are inexpensive. The best value is a T-1 card which gives 10 rides for the price of 5 1/2 and can be used on all forms of public transport (bus, Metro, and FGC lines)

Bus

Service is efficient and regular.

Trains

Estacío de Sants is the city’s main train station, for national and some international arrivals. The Estació de França (or Estació Terminal), next to the Parc de la Ciutadella, is the terminal for long-distance Spanish and European express and inter-city trains.
FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Cataluña) travels into the hill country and around the city.

Ferries

Ferries Tickets for Balearic ferries from Transmediterránea, at the Estacío Maritima tel. 93 443 2532. Book in advance in July and August.

Taxis

Black and yellow Barcelona taxis are metered and fares are reasonably priced. Luggage is extra. A small tip is appreciated.

Air Travel

The airport, 12km southwest of the city, is linked by a half-hourly train service. Many trains from the airport also run on to Plaça de Catalunya, a more direct way of reaching the Barri Gòtic. Alternatively, there’s the efficient Airbus (Aerobus; Mon-Fri every 15min, Sat-Sun every half-hour; 6/6.30-11; 450ptas), which departs from outside the terminals on a circular route and runs into the centre via Plaça España, Gran Vía, Plaça de Catalunya and Passeig de Grácia.

Note:
Traffic drives on the right side of the road in Spain. Driving in the city center is not advised. There are approximately 400,000 parking spaces for the daily infusion of 600,000 cars. The public transportation system is excellent and a car is not necessary.

Events

January:
In January the main celebration is the arrival of the Three Kings from the Orient on the 5th accompanied by a parade, and on the 6th when both children and adults receive toys and gifts.

Santa Eulalia January 12. the feast of the patron saint of Barcelona is celebrated in the old town. There is dancing and many people dress up as giants.

February:
The Carnivals, held in February, are becoming more and more popular ( after having been forbidden during the years of the Franco dictatorship), and St. Valentines Day (February 14th) is also increasing in its popularity.

1st Sunday in Lent is the date of the Internacional de Cotxes d’ Epocha, a veteran car rally that runs from Barcelona to Sitges.

March:
On March 3rd the popular festival of Sant Medir is held in Grácia. There is a parade and singing by choirs. Holy Week begins with the palm fair which is held on Palm Sunday. It continues with the accompanying religious festivities and ends on Easter Monday ( the celebration of which is pagan in origin).

festival of Sant Medir

Throughout March there is the Terrassa Jazz Festival when musicians gather in Barcelona from all over the world. Free outdoor concerts are given on weekends.

April:
The most spectacular festival is held on April 23rd. This is the celebration in honor of Sant Jordi (St. George), the patron saint of Catalonia. It coincides with the rose and book festivals.

May:
In May a flower show is held, and on the 11th there is the festival of Sant Ponç held in El Hospital street by the city’s herbalists.

June:
A book Fair is held in the Passeig de Gracia in June and during the same month there is a Trade Exhibition in Montjuic. The Corpus Christi celebrations with processions of giants and cabezudos, and the l´Ou com Balla (the dancing egg) take place in the fountain at the Cathedral cloister.

The most popular celebration during the month of June is the Eve of Sant Joan (St. John). This is celebrated both in private homes and in public places, and there is dancing bonfires in some streets and squares and fireworks.

The Eve of Sant Pere (St. Peter), on June 28th, brings with it festivities associated with the arrival of the summer solstice.

From the end of June onwards, the Festival of el Grec begins. This consists of a series of theatrical performances as well as dancing, concerts, and other cultural events. These take place either at the Greek Theatre in Montjuic, in the open air, as well as in other locations in the city. There are also many sports tournaments and competitions and several trade fairs at the Exhibition Center.

July:
July 24th marks the Feast of Sant Jaume (St. James) and is celebrated in much the same way as the Eves of St. Joan and Sant Pere.

August:
The Feast of the Assumption (August 15th), is another popular festival which is held in the district of Gracia.

September:
The last great summer celebration is that of the Onze de Setembre (September 11th). This is a national holiday in Catalonia when various official and political ceremonies are held.
However, there are many more celebrations throughout the year in the city and in its different districts. Every district has a Saint’s Day which it celebrates with a festival.

The popular festival of La Mercé, the patron saint of Barcelona, take place around September 24th when there are folk dances such as the sardanas, parades through the streets, important sporting events (e.g. sailing, regattas, judo, swimming, walking races), religious celebrations, etc. Other events held in conjunction with the festival are fashion shows, food tasting and wine sampling.

October:
In October a Second-Hand Book Fair is held in the Passeig de Gracia and there is also a Music Festival, the Autumn Fair in El Tinell and several other fairs at the Trade Exhibition Center.

November:
In November All Hallows Day is celebrated on the 1st and All Souls Day on the 2nd. This is the time when special cakes, known locally as panellets are baked and eaten.

December:
At the time of Santa Llucias Days (December 13th) the crib fair begins in the vicinity of the Cathedral, and continues until Christmas. The opera season opens at El Liceu and the the concert season at the Palace of Music (Palau de la Musica).

Christmas is traditionally celebrated at home with the family and with the newly revived custom of fer cagar el tio (this consists of putting an object similar to a tree trunk into the fire from which presents then burst out). Christmas dinner includes escudella turkey, and torrons (a kind of nougat dessert).

The start of the New Year is celebrated in bars, restaurants, and in the street where people wear the fancy dress usually seen at street carnivals. As the clock strikes twelve they eat twelve grapes in time with each chime, a custom which is said to bring good luck if done properly!

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