Football Cities: Barcelona
Taken from our first issue, we look at the rich history of art and creativity that has shaped both the city of Barcelona and one of the World’s greatest football clubs.
There are certain cities that are defined by their football clubs. The team, the stadium, the fans and the town seem to be inseparable. Without their clubs, it feels like the city couldn’t exist. With Barcelona, this is definitely the case. Sitting in the heart of Catalonia on the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is a City rich in culture, creativity, identity and tradition; qualities that are reflected by its largest football team FC Barcelona.
In the late 19th century, the development of the Catalan modernista movement aided the resurfacing of Catalan culture in Spain’s second city. Art was a key component of the movement, and was mainly expressed through architecture, with the work of Antoni Gaudí during this time playing a major role in shaping Barcelona’s modern day identity. His original and instantly recognisable style has drawn visitors to the City from all over the World, and witnessing the intricacy, scale and colour of the Sagrada Família, the patterns and uniqueness of Park Güell, the curves of Casa Milà and the beauty of Casa Batlló first hand never fails to amaze.
Also in the 19th century, Catalan urban planner Illfons Cerdà designed the ‘extension’ of Barcelona known as the Eixample. He implemented a revolutionary grid layout for the streets, with wide avenues to ease congestion and square blocks with chamfered corners to allow more sunlight into the streets. This visionary design has allowed Barcelona to grow into the modern city that it is today.
It seems that the organic, inspiring and distinctive nature of Gaudí’s work together with the ambition and creativity of Cerdà have played a major role in shaping the philosophy of FC Barcelona. Many of the qualities the club is known for, such as artistry and ingenuity, have descended from those who helped to shape the face of their city.
In the late 1980s Johan Cruyff introduced a possession‑heavy style of play whilst he managed the side, that would be taken forward by Louis van Gaal, Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola and evolve into Tiki Taka. The short‑passing and movement based nature of Tiki Taka, was implemented into the club’s La Masia academy, which produced intelligent and technically excellent players such as Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Pedro and Cesc Fàbregas. The success that these players achieved during Guardiola’s reign elevated Barça’s reputation even further for playing a brand of football that is as beautiful as it is identifiable.
The club is renowned for its approach to the game, where a focus on home grown talent, attractive football and playing as a team has allowed it to become one of the largest and most successful on the planet. These are some of the values that have given us our love for football, and we all have our favourite moments and players from the various great Barcelona teams from across the ages.
There have been so many icons and superstars who have represented the Blaugrana, and a trip to the famous Camp Nou will always provide a memorable football experience. For many, watching Barça play live is a bucket list item, and witnessing the breathtaking football at their iconic home ground really is a sight to behold.
Football and Barça are inescapable in the city. Whether it is in bars, along the beach, hanging from the balconies of apartments, or along the main streets such as La Rambla or Passeig de Gràcia, you will see Barcelona shirts, scarves and flags. Throughout the neighbourhoods, or Barrios, small pitches allow the younger residents to dream of playing alongside their heroes on the pitch of their beloved Camp Nou, whilst on Playa de la Barceloneta, the city’s most popular beach, tourists look to recreate the stunning goals they saw when taking in a match at the stadium.
Whether it has been to watch the unbelievable talents of Kubala, Cruyff, Maradona, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho or Messi, fans across many generations have flocked to the city to see Barcelona play. A European night or an El Clásico showdown with Real Madrid are truly magical occasions, where all 98,000 seats are filled and the noise reverberates across the steep tiers that encircle the lush green pitch below.
When travelling to Les Courts to watch the team play, you can really appreciate just how big the club is. Whether exiting the metro or walking along the Avinguda Diagonal to reach the Camp Nou, the many different languages you hear and the sea of blue and red created by the masses of people approaching what can almost be seen as a cathedral of football is extraordinary to be a part of.
As their motto Més que un club suggests, FC Barcelona is truly more than a club. It is so important to the city it lies within and characterises the imagination, originality and beauty that made Barcelona the leading global city that it is.
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