|Global city cat.:||GaWC Alpha- Global Cities|
|Population (city):||1,607,104 (2013) world: 59|
|Population (metro):||2,208,652 (2001)|
Barcelona is a culturally vibrant Mediterranean city that's been so appreciated by tourists that it shot into the top 5 most visited European destinations, competing head-to-head with the likes of Paris, London, and Rome – despite being only a fraction of their size.
This popularity (decried by many as being extremely detrimental to the city's character) has caused quite intense debates locally and culminated in the election in 2015 of Ada Colau, who largely ran on an anti-eviction, anti-tourism, and anti-gentrification platform. After tending to the most important items on her agenda (like the removal of a portrait of King Felipe VI from her office), the new mayor immediately launched a war on rent-sharing platforms such as AirBnB and mandated a reduction of permits for "official" tourism apartments, incidentally causing a further increase in short-term rental prices.
If you intend to study in the city, you may want to research your housing options in advance.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, Barcelona is one of the top destinations in the world for learning Spanish. The language, while officially playing second fiddle to Catalan, can be heard (and used) practically everywhere in the city, save for a few predominantly Catalan-speaking neighborhoods.