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There has been a lot of soul-searching in Barcelona in recent years. Following decades of transformative, city-defining projects, the focus has turned inward and ideas about wellbeing, cultural reinvention and technological advances are being embraced on a more human scale. But this is always a city enthralled by the pursuit of betterment. One only has to look to the skyline, where La Sagrada Familia’s final tower is inching towards completion after more than a century of construction, to get a sense of a city that is singular, inspiring and constantly becoming.

Between the Montserrat mountains and the Mediterranean, and framed by two rivers on each side, Barcelona’s natural borders have seen it grow into one of the most vibrant cities in Europe with about 30 per cent of metropolitan residents hailing from outside of Spain. With a unifying sense of civic pride keeping the collective pulse in check, such density is a source of innovation and vibrancy, with world-leading urbanism, imitable design and enviable knowledge-based industries that continue to attract the builders of the future.

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Today the city has been rediscovering its outskirts and inviting visitors to do the same. From the artists reclaiming post-industrial edifices in Poblenou and L’Hospitalet as galleries and studios to the eco-lodges springing up to complement natural wineries, forward- thinking cultural and gastronomic projects have been giving new life to tranquil towns in the surrounding hills and valleys. Then there’s the sand and sea, which have always inspired Barceloneses to look towards the horizon, while calming the urban nerves and being a perpetual source of serenity and joy.

As Barcelona gears up to host the world’s longest-running sailing competition, the America’s Cup, a resurgent art scene and interconnected community of artisans, retailers, innovators and entrepreneurs are poised to open their doors and share the city’s next chapter. Thankfully, a network of freshly planted parks and pedestrianised streets make discovering Barcelona’s myriad inspiring sites and people easier and more joyous than ever.

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