The second largest city in Spain and 6th in the entire EU, Barcelona is a place with centuries-long tradition – it was founded back in the days of the Roman Empire. Today it is undoubtedly one of the most important cultural centres in Europe, a fact that can be easily verified by the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in the city.
Barcelona has a rich cultural offer. Among the most important venues in the city are theatres, including the famous operatic theatre Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (National Theatre of Catalonia), Teatre Lliure, Coliseum, Teatre Grec (open air theatre) and Teatre Principal (Main Theatre). Both Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona and Nacional de Catalunya – the biggest symphonic orchestra in Catalonia work in the city. Every year the city hosts the International Maria Callas Music Competition, along with many festivals and events, including the Sonisphere Festival. The city is also a home to many museums, devoted to various kinds and types of art. One of the largest ones is the National Museum of Catalonia, the Fundació Joan Miró, named after the Catalonian painter and sculptor, who was born in Barcelona, is devoted to contemporary and modern art. Fundació Antoni Tàpies with its collection of paintings by one of the most important Spanish painters of the 20th century is another interesting place.
The number of universities operating in the city also attests to the fact that Barcelona is a dynamically developing cultural and academic centre. The University of Barcelona is the most famous of them all, but apart from it, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, the Pompeu Fabro University and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona can also be found here.
The city is also home to the Biblioteca de Catalunya, established in 1907 and hosting over 20000 volumes. The Institut d’Estudis Catalans, where the most prominent scientists research the Catalonian culture is also an important cultural centre.
The bookstores in Barcelona offer mostly book in the Catalonian or Spanish languages; however, there are several places where foreign literature can also be purchased. A FNAC operates in the city centre, at the Catalonia Square, there is also RAS – a bookstore and a gallery, located near the MACBA (museum of contemporary art), which focuses on selling books and organising exhibitions. A great market square, Mercat de Sant Antoni can also be found in the city, and older works of literature can be often found there as well. The Laie bookstore is more of a cafe, where delicious coffee is served in addition to the books being sold.
Among the most important cultural events there is the annual Celebration of Poetry, during which the trams are filled with poetry, but also various lectures, readings and workshops. Every two years in October the Kosmopolis festival takes place, during which various literary genres are presented. Every edition of the festival has a theme – the last edition was devoted to the global economic crisis.