Guide to Catalonia, a Spanish region in the north-west of the country.

Spanish Regions - Catalonia

Besalu CataloniaCatalonia Spain - The Spanish region of Catalonia is situated in north-eastern Spain and includes a long stretch of the Pyrenees mountains. Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain and has an area of around 32,000km2 and a resident population of approximately 7,350,000 (2008 figures), its main languages are Catalan and Spanish and it borders France and Andorra to the north, Valencia to the south and Aragon to the west, the capital city of the region is Barcelona and it comprises 4 provinces - Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida (the largest) and Girona.

Originally occupied by the Iberians, Catalonia was colonized by the ancient Greeks and later the Carthaginians, until their defeat by the Romans after which it became part of the Roman Empire. After the collapse of Rome the Visigoths took control of the region until the 8th century arrival of the Moors, who unlike throughout most of Spain held sway only briefly before being driven back by the Franks, first under Charles Martel and then by his grandson Charlemagne, northern Catalonia became a buffer zone between the Moorish and Frankish held areas.

Later under Jaime I, Catalonia entered a period of growth and prosperity, aided by a navy of ships built in the shipyards of Barcelona. Catholic Spain was finally united in 1479 when Fernando II of Catalonia - Aragon was married to Isabel of Castile.

Catalonia saw Spain’s first real industry, as Barcelona developed cotton manufacturing using materials brought from the Americas, the resulting prosperity culminating in the Universal Exhibition held in Barcelona’s Parc de la Ciutadella in 1888.

After the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), General Franco suppressed much of Catalonia’s autonomy with a ban on the Catalan language and a suppression of public activities associated with Catalan nationalism. After Franco’s death in 1975, Catalonia regained most of what it had lost including political autonomy, it has subsequently became one of the most economically successful regions of Spain.

The emergence of tourism in the 1950’s and 1960’s, saw many thousands of visitors arriving to developing resorts along the Costa Brava coastline, which became one of the first package tour destinations in the country and is still extremely popular today.

While a large majority of visitors to Catalonia head for the coastal resorts of the Costa Brava and Costa Dorada, those venturing further afield are rewarded out of all proportion for their efforts, with some wonderful areas worth visiting including the ancient cities of Barcelona, Tarragona and Girona, spectacular mountain areas in the stunning Pyrenees, wonderful parks such as the Aiguestortes National Park, the beautiful Vall d’Aran and the magical Cerdanya Valley, together with many interesting towns and villages such as Figueres, the birthplace of artist Salvador Dali.

Catalonia Hotels: Casamar Llafranc - Eloy Tossa de Mar - Golden Bahia Tossa de Mar - Lloret de Mar Oasis

Catalonia Golf: Club de Golf Costa Brava - Spain Golf Courses

Catalonia Places: Besalu - Blanes - Cambrils - Calella - Canet de Mar - Empuriabrava - Estartit - Figueres - L'Escala - Lloret de Mar - Malgrat de Mar - Olot - Palafrugell - Palamos - Pineda de Mar - Playa de Aro - Roses - Salou - Sitges - Tossa de Mar

Catalonia Cities: Barcelona - Girona - Reus - Tarragona

Related: Catalonia Map - Catalonia Weather - Builders