Barcelona and sport: in better shape than ever! 12/07/2022
Sport has the power to change the world. It defines characters, frees up emotions and transforms societies. In 1992, Barcelona showed the world that it was an Olympic city at the top of its game, not only because of the high level sport on offer, but because of its values of unity, commitment and effort. The city has sport in its DNA and its sporting tradition dates from long before the Olympics. Like all good things in life, it is a story of passion.
A long-standing tradition
The fact that Barcelona is the fourth city in the world ranking of sports cities gives you an idea of how deeply rooted sport is. We even have the BCN Sport Festival, a film festival dedicated exclusively to films about sport! These roots can be traced back over 100 years. At the end of the 19th century, the local community and sports clubs were already organising and establishing sport as a discipline and form of entertainment.
And the big milestone came in 1992, when Barcelona became the world's sporting capital. Who can forget the flaming arrow flying through the sky to light the Olympic cauldron? The image has become a permanent part of our collective memory, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of an Olympic and Paralympic Games that were a watershed moment in the history of the Olympic movement. Many parts of Barcelona that captivate us today are the result of this milestone event: the iconic sporting landmarks, the opening up of the seafront and beaches, an Olympic marina, the spectacular Olympic Ring, a new neighbourhood that was built to house the athletes... Discover the transformative magic of the Olympics at the exhibition "Barcelona'92, the Impulse of a City" that commemorates this anniversary.
Century-old clubs, Olympic medallists and world champions
Sport in Barcelona crosses borders, and not just because of the Olympic Games. Is there anywhere in the world that hasn't heard of Futbol Club Barcelona? Barça is more than a club and has the biggest football stadium in Europe, but it also has teams competing in other sporting disciplines, including basketball, handball and roller hockey. Futbol Club Barcelona is perhaps the best known, but not the only club founded over a century ago. You can also enjoy the competitions at the Real Club de Polo, the Reial Club de Tennis, RCD Espanyol and Club Natació Atlètic Barceloneta, which show that sport has long been a way of bringing society together. But there are also great athletes who have taken Barcelona's sporting pride around the world: the Gasol brothers in basketball, Alexia Putellas in football, (winner of the 2021 Ballon d'Or), the tennis player Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, the swimmers Gemma Mengual and Ona Carbonell, the Formula 1 driver Pedro Martínez de la Rosa, the mountain runner Kilian Jornet , Manel Estiarte in water polo, Queralt Castellet who has made history in snow surfing, and Laia Sanz, the great woman competitor in the Dakar Rally.
You too are sport
With its unbeatable location and mild climate, Barcelona is an ideal city for all kinds of sports. The offer is so varied that everyone can find an activity that suits them. The sea offers a wealth of water-based options, as well as open-sea swimming. The city's pools, some of them built for the Olympics and others with spectacular views, delight swimming addicts. Runners can enjoy circuits, avenues, parks and two "green lungs", Montjuïc and Collserola, to add mileage to their running shoes. The city is so easy to get around you can discover its architectural and cultural heritage at a leisurely pace.
Cycling enthusiasts can visit the Ronda Verda, a 72-km circuit of roads and signposted bike lanes that surrounds the city, or enjoy pedalling through the Collserola Natural Park, which has more than 250 km of routes with different gradients. Call at the Visitor Centre and they'll tell you about all the routes and options. With 240 km of bike lanes, the city is also ready to be explored on two wheels, and also offers guided bike tours, so you can visit while keeping active and without missing a single detail.
Sporting havens await not far from the city. From world-renowned golf courses and the steep and magical mountain of Montserrat for lovers of climbing and hiking, to the vineyards of the Penedès for fans of cycle tourism and the Pyrenees for people who have skiing in their veins.
If you're in good physical shape, Barcelona offers some exciting challenges, such as the Half Marathon, the Barcelona Marathon, Triathlon, the Jean Bouin athletics race, (the oldest competition of its kind in Spain), and Ironman. And because sport also has to be inclusive, this year Barcelona will be hosting the 1st International Inclusive Crossfit Competition, Wodcelona, designed for people with disabilities.
The magic of live sport
Are you one of those people who enjoy a great sporting spectacle?
Well, welcome to a world-class calendar of sporting events. International and top-level sport come together in Barcelona, so make a note of these great events in your diary: the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell – 70th Conde de Godó Tennis Trophy, the Formula 1 Pirelli Spanish Grand Prix, the Monster Energy MotoGP Grand Prix, the Barcelona Polo Challenge Negrita Cup, the World Padel Tour, the 15th Puig Classic Sailing Regatta with vintage boats, the International Showjumping Competition - CSIO and an appointment with extreme sports at Extreme Barcelona. And if you're a football fan, you can enjoy the adrenaline rush of FC Barcelona's live matches. The team will be revving up for the season during the month of August with the Joan Gamper Trophy, which presents the season's players. Women's football is also breaking attendance records thanks to a team that is constantly adding to its trophy cabinet and showing great sporting prowess. RCD Espanyol also offers high-level matches at its modern stadium.
The city will be the setting for more unmissable sporting events over the coming years. In 2023, Barcelona will be holding two stages of the Vuelta Ciclista a España, including the official start. And in 2024, the city will be hosting the world's most important sailing competition, the 37th America's Cup.
Sport at our museums
If you want to enjoy sport without breaking into a sweat, a visit to the city's sports museums is the best option. Their experiential and interactive exhibits, packed with surprises, are sheer entertainment. When you visit the Museu del Barça and the Spotify Camp Nou Tour you'll feel the power of the stadium and gain a first-hand insight into the values of the club on a guided tour led by a football expert. And the Museu Olímpic i de l'Esport Joan A. Samaranch will allow you to enjoy such incredible experiences as running against Carl Lewis... using a simulator.
As you can see, Barcelona is an idyllic place for sport. Are you up for the challenge? Well, on your marks, get set… go!
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