France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Waterloo International railway station
Waterloo International station was the London terminus of the Eurostar international rail service from its opening on 14 November 1994 until it closed on 13 November 2007 when it was replaced by St Pancras as the terminal for international rail services. It stands on the western side of Waterloo railway station, but was managed and branded separately from the main-line station. In August 2017, the buildings and platforms were incorporated into the main Waterloo station when the platforms reopened during the works at platforms 1-8; the platforms closed again on 5 September 2017. After a period of redevelopment, they were scheduled to be permanently re-opened in December 2018 as part of the main station. Platforms 20–22 re-opened permanently as part of the main station on 10 December 2018 although much work on the redevelopment still remains to be completed; the station was designed by the architectural firm Grimshaw Architects with Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners and Bovis Construction. It cost £120 million and was completed in May 1993, in time for the scheduled completion of the Channel Tunnel.
Construction of the Tunnel was delayed however, the station did not open until November 1994, when it won the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture as well as the Royal Institute of British Architects' Building of the Year award. Waterloo International had five platforms, numbered 20 to 24, one taken from the main-line station, four new ones. Unlike the platforms at the main station, they were long enough to accommodate trains of up to 20 coaches; the platforms were all covered by a 400 m long glass and steel vault of 36 arches forming a prismatic structure, conceived by Anthony Hunt Associates. The five vaults are supported by a grid of cylindrical concrete columns that rise up from the carpark level, through the circulation levels to the platforms. A structural glass wall separated the existing Waterloo Station from the International station. A two-level reception area fronted the main station concourse; the curvature of the roof is steeper on the western side and here the trains passed close to the structure.
The roof arches are made up of two dissimilar curved trusses, triangular in section, with compression booms of tubular steel and tension booms of solid steel. Both compression and tension members are curved — structural engineer Anthony Hunt described the trusses as "banana shaped". Curved, tapering trusses were used to great effect at Kirklees Stadium in Huddersfield; the first Eurostar departure, on 14 November 1994, was formed of Eurostar units 373004/373003 and the last service left at 18.12 GMT on 13 November 2007 for Brussels. From the next day Eurostar services used their new London terminus of St Pancras International. Ownership of Waterloo International station passed to BRB Ltd. with no clear plans for the future use of the Eurostar platforms. Some reports had suggested that they might be used for shops, but a parliamentary written answer of 4 June 2008 stated platform 20 was to be used by some South West Trains services from December 2008. At the time of closure, Network Rail had no immediate plans to use the other four former international platforms for domestic use and they were disused from November 2007.
From 4 July 2010 to 2 January 2011 two of the disused platforms hosted theatrical performances of E. Nesbit's The Railway Children; the audience was seated either side of the actual railway track. The show includes the use of a steam engine, coupled to one of the original carriages from the 1970 film, being shunted in and out of the theatre area as required by a Class 08 shunter. All of the international platforms were temporarily used for regional services during the refurbishment of the main station starting in Christmas 2013. Platform 20 came back into regular use for timetabled services in May 2014. In March 2016, it was reported that the platforms and terminal building will be incorporated into the main station as part of a £800 million refurbishment of Waterloo. In August 2017 the platforms were used temporarily while other platforms were upgraded and after a further period of closure for redevelopment they were permanently brought back into use in December 2018 and May 2019; the terminal building will house a shopping mall.
British Rail developed a series of concepts during the late 1980s with an initial location at the opposite end of the concourse. A more appropriate location was subsequently defined as at present but at first incorporating an existing staff building alongside Platform 10 while displacing the Armstrong lift, on the site and had provided the means of allowing Waterloo City Line stock to be raised up from the tunnels below. Before long, the existing staff building as well as the lift were abandoned but the new terminal was then taking the form of a cable-stayed, flat-roofed structure and was the basis for the final stage of the Hybrid Parliamentary Bill as it passed through the House of Lords and as featured in a press release at the time; the in-house design team assisted by Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners as traffic Engineers co-opted the services of Anthony Hunt so as to take the dynamic structure forward. However the BR architects felt that a cable stayed structure, while in vogue at the time, might not be so innovative with an operational opening planned for May 1993.
Security issues as well as structural and the above consideration led the designers to review alternative structural forms that might meet the evolving brief. An arch structure had its appeal in that an arch-based tracery was subtly evident at Waterloo over the approach road and was more to be fresher than a cable-stayed option by the time the terminal was ready for use in the early to mid 19
Norman Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank
Norman Robert Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank, is a British architect whose company, Foster + Partners, maintains an international design practice famous for high-tech architecture. He is the President of the Norman Foster Foundation; the Norman Foster Foundation promotes interdisciplinary thinking and research to help new generations of architects and urbanists to anticipate the future. The foundation, which opened in June 2017, operates globally, he is one of Britain's most prolific architects of his generation. In 1999, he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture. In 2009, Foster was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award in the Arts category. In 1994, he received the AIA gold medal. Norman Foster was born to Robert Foster and Lilian Smith in 1935 in Reddish, Cheshire, they moved, soon after his birth, two miles to 4 Crescent Grove in Levenshulme, where they lived in poverty: Foster has no recollection of Reddish. Foster's parents were diligent, hard workers – so diligent that Foster, as an only child, felt their heavy workload restricted his relationship with them and he was looked after by neighbours or other family members.
He attended Burnage Grammar School for Boys in Burnage. In a Guardian interview in 1999, Foster said he always felt'different' at school and was bullied, he retired into the world of books, he considered himself quiet and awkward in his early years making faux pas. Foster described Manchester as "one of the workshops of the world" and "the embodiment of a great city", his father, worked at Metropolitan-Vickers, Trafford Park which fuelled Foster's interest in engineering and design, he was fascinated with the process of designing. He says. Specific interests included a hobby he maintains today. Foster's father convinced him to take the entrance exam for Manchester Town Hall's trainee scheme which he passed in 1951 and took a job as an office junior in the Treasurer's Department. A colleague, Mr Cobb's son, was studying architecture and his interest led to Foster considering a career in architecture. After working in the Manchester City Treasurer's office, Foster completed his National Service in 1953 serving in the Royal Air Force, a choice inspired by his passion for aircraft.
Foster returned to Manchester, not wanting to return to the town hall as his parents wished and unsure of which path to follow. Foster was searching for a world away from his working-class roots which led to the alienation of his parents. Foster took a job as assistant to a contract manager with John Bearshaw and Partners, a local architectural practice; the staff advised him, that if he wished to become an architect, he should prepare a portfolio of drawings using the perspective and shop drawings from Bearshaw's practice as an example. Bearshaw was so impressed with the drawings that he promoted the young Foster to the drawing department of the practice. In 1956 Foster won a place at the University of Manchester School of City Planning. Foster was not eligible for a maintenance grant so took up a number of part-time jobs to fund his studies, becoming an ice-cream salesman, night-club bouncer and working night shifts at a bakery to make crumpets, he combined these with self-tuition via visits to the local library in Levenshulme.
Foster took a keen interest in the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer and graduated from Manchester in 1961. Foster won the Henry Fellowship to the Yale School of Architecture, where he met future business partner Richard Rogers and earned his master's degree. Vincent Scully encouraged Rogers to travel in America for a year. After returning to the UK in 1963 he set up an architectural practice as Team 4 with Richard Rogers, Su Brumwell and the sisters Georgie and Wendy Cheesman. Georgie was the only one of the team that had passed her RIBA exams allowing them to set up in practice on their own. Team 4 earned a reputation for high-tech industrial design. After Team 4 went their separate ways and Wendy Cheesman founded Foster Associates in 1967, which became Foster and Partners in 1999. A long period of collaboration with American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller began in 1968 and continued until Fuller's death in 1983, they collaborated on several projects that became catalysts in the development of an environmentally sensitive approach to design – including the Samuel Beckett Theatre project.
They concentrated on industrial buildings. The turning point was the 1969 leisure center for Fred. Olsen Lines in London Docklands, where workers and managers are not separated any more. Foster and Partners' breakthrough building in the UK was the Willis Faber & Dumas headquarters in Ipswich, of 1974; the client was a family run insurance company which wanted to restore a sense of community to the workplace. Foster created open plan office floors. In a town not over-endowed with public facilities, the roof gardens, 25 metre swimming pool and gymnasium enhanced the quality of life for the company's 1200 employees; the building has a full-height glass façade moulded to the medieval street plan and contributes drama, subtly shifting from opaque, reflective black to a glowing backlit transparency as the sun sets. The design was inspired by the Daily Express Building in Manchester a work Foster admired in his youth; the building is now Grade I* listed. The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, an art gallery and museum on the campus of the University of East Ang
The European Parliament is the only parliamentary institution of the European Union, directly elected by EU citizens aged 18 or older. Together with the Council of the European Union, which should not be confused with the European Council and the Council of Europe, it exercises the legislative function of the EU; the Parliament is composed of 751 members, that will become 705 starting from the 2019–2024 legislature, who represent the second-largest democratic electorate in the world and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world. It has been directly elected by the European citizens every five years and by universal suffrage since 1979. However, voter turnout at European Parliament elections has fallen consecutively at each election since that date, has been under 50% since 1999. Voter turnout in 2014 stood at 42.54% of all European voters. Although the European Parliament has legislative power, as does the Council, it does not formally possess legislative initiative, as most national parliaments of European Union member states do.
The Parliament is the "first institution" of the EU, shares equal legislative and budgetary powers with the Council. It has equal control over the EU budget; the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, is accountable to Parliament. In particular, Parliament elects the President of the Commission, approves the appointment of the Commission as a whole, it can subsequently force the Commission as a body to resign by adopting a motion of censure. The President of the European Parliament is Antonio Tajani, elected in January 2017, he presides over a multi-party chamber, the two largest groups being the Group of the European People's Party and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. The last union-wide elections were the 2014 elections; the European Parliament has three places of work -- Luxembourg City and Strasbourg. Luxembourg City is home to the administrative offices. Meetings of the whole Parliament take place in Brussels. Committee meetings are held in Brussels; the Parliament, like the other institutions, was not designed in its current form when it first met on 10 September 1952.
One of the oldest common institutions, it began as the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community. It was a consultative assembly of 78 appointed parliamentarians drawn from the national parliaments of member states, having no legislative powers; the change since its foundation was highlighted by Professor David Farrell of the University of Manchester: "For much of its life, the European Parliament could have been justly labelled a'multi-lingual talking shop'."Its development since its foundation shows how the European Union's structures have evolved without a clear "master plan". Some, such as Tom Reid of the Washington Post, said of the union: "nobody would have deliberately designed a government as complex and as redundant as the EU"; the Parliament's two seats, which have switched several times, are a result of various agreements or lack of agreements. Although most MEPs would prefer to be based just in Brussels, at John Major's 1992 Edinburgh summit, France engineered a treaty amendment to maintain Parliament's plenary seat permanently at Strasbourg.
The body was not mentioned in the original Schuman Declaration. It was assumed or hoped that difficulties with the British would be resolved to allow the Council of Europe's Assembly to perform the task. A separate Assembly was introduced during negotiations on the Treaty as an institution which would counterbalance and monitor the executive while providing democratic legitimacy; the wording of the ECSC Treaty demonstrated the leaders' desire for more than a normal consultative assembly by using the term "representatives of the people" and allowed for direct election. Its early importance was highlighted when the Assembly was given the task of drawing up the draft treaty to establish a European Political Community. By this document, the Ad Hoc Assembly was established on 13 September 1952 with extra members, but after the failure of the proposed European Defence Community the project was dropped. Despite this, the European Economic Community and Euratom were established in 1958 by the Treaties of Rome.
The Common Assembly was shared by all three communities and it renamed itself the European Parliamentary Assembly. The first meeting was held on 19 March 1958 having been set up in Luxembourg City, it elected Schuman as its president and on 13 May it rearranged itself to sit according to political ideology rather than nationality; this is seen as the birth of the modern European Parliament, with Parliament's 50 years celebrations being held in March 2008 rather than 2002. The three communities merged their remaining organs as the European Communities in 1967, the body's name was changed to the current "European Parliament" in 1962. In 1970 the Parliament was granted power over areas of the Communities' budget, which were expanded to the whole budget in 1975. Under the Rome Treaties, the Parliament should have become elected. However, the Council was required to agree a uni
Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, CBE, PPRA is a prominent English architect noted for several modernist buildings, including London's Waterloo International railway station and the Eden Project in Cornwall. He was President of the Royal Academy from 2004 to 2011, he is chairman of Grimshaw Architects, a recipient of the RIBA Gold Medal. Grimshaw was born in Hove, East Sussex 9 October 1939, his father was an engineer, his mother a portrait painter and he inherited an interest in engineering and art. One of his great-grandfathers was a civil engineer who built dams in Egypt, another was a physician who campaigned for the installation of Dublin's drainage and sanitation system after showing a link between waterborne diseases and streams joining River Liffey, his father died when he was two and a half, he grew up with his mother, grandmother, a portrait painter, two sisters in Guildford. He displayed an early interest in construction, he was educated at Wellington College, left when he was 17. From 1959 to 1962, he studied at the Edinburgh College of Art before winning a scholarship to attend the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, where he won further scholarships to travel to Sweden in 1963 and the United States in 1964.
He graduated from the AA in 1965 with an honours diploma, having entered into a partnership with Terry Farrell, he joined the Royal Institute of British Architects two years in 1967. He worked with Farrell for 15 years before establishing his own firm, Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, in 1980. In 1989, he won a Royal Institute of British Architects national award for his design of the Financial Times printworks in East London. After designing Britain's pavilion for the Seville Expo in 1992, he was appointed a CBE in 1993, the following year saw his Waterloo railway terminal awarded the accolade of'Building of the Year'; that same year saw him elected a vice-chairman of the Architectural Association, a member of the Royal Academy and a member of the American Institute of Architects. Grimshaw's architecture practice continues to grow; the work of Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners was the subject of a series of monographs published by Phaidon Press: Architecture and Innovation deals with the years 1965–1988.
In December 2004, Grimshaw was elected President of the Royal Academy of Arts, a position he held until 2011. Grimshaw is behind the National Institute for Research into Aquatic Habitats design. Projects include: 125 Park Road, London. Known as "The Ship", Plymouth RAC Regional Headquarters, Bristol Pier 4A, Heathrow Airport, Berlin Stock Exchange, Germany Lord's Cricket Ground Grandstand, London Heathrow Terminal 3 North Woolwich pumping station, London Docklands Bilbao Bus Station, Spain Eden Project, Frankfurt Trade Fair Hall, Germany Enneus Heerma Bridge, Netherlands National Space Centre, Leicester 25 Gresham Street, London Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Goodwood manufacturing plant and Headquarters Five Boats, Germany Zurich Airport Expansion The Core, Eden Project Southern Cross railway station, Australia Caixa Galicia Art Gallery, A Coruña, Spain Thermae Bath Spa, Bath Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, New York igus Headquarters and Factory, Germany University College London Cancer Institute, England London School of Economics New Academic Building, England Pulkovo Airport, St Petersburg, Russia London South Bank University K2 Building, England Eco Hotel Concept, North America The St Botolph Building, England Mobilizarte Mobile Pavilion, Brazil The Cutty Sark conservation project, England Pulkovo Airport, Saint Petersburg, Russia Grimshaw was made a Knight Bachelor in 2002 New Year Honours for services to Architecture.
He received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2004 He received the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2019. Official website
San Sebastián or Donostia is a coastal city and municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain. It lies on the coast of the Bay of 20 km from the French border; the capital city of Gipuzkoa, the municipality's population is 186,095 as of 2015, with its metropolitan area reaching 436,500 in 2010. Locals call themselves donostiarra, both in Basque; the main economic activities are commerce and tourism, it is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Spain. Despite the city’s small size, events such as the San Sebastián International Film Festival have given it an international dimension. San Sebastián, along with Wrocław, was the European Capital of Culture in 2016. In spite of appearances, both the Basque form Donostia and the Spanish form San Sebastián have the same meaning of Saint Sebastian; the dona/done/doni element in Basque place-names is derived from Latin domine. There are two hypotheses regarding the evolution of the Basque name: one says it was *Done Sebastiáne > Donasaastiai > Donasastia > Donastia > Donostia, the other one says it was *Done Sebastiane > *Done Sebastiae > *Done Sebastie > *Donesebastia > *Donasastia > *Donastia > Donostia.
The city is located in the north of the Basque Autonomous Community, on the southern coast of the Bay of Biscay. San Sebastián's three picturesque beaches, Concha and Zurriola, make it a popular resort; the town is surrounded by accessible hilly areas: Urgull, Mount Ulia, Mount Adarra and Igeldo. The city sits at the mouth of the River Urumea, Donostia was built to a large extent on the river's wetlands over the last two centuries. In fact, the city centre and the districts of Amara Berri and Riberas de Loiola lie on the former bed of the river, diverted to its current canalized course in the first half of the 20th century. San Sebastián features an oceanic climate with cool winters. Like many cities with this climate, San Sebastián experiences cloudy or overcast conditions for the majority of the year with some precipitation; the city averages 1,650 mm of precipitation annually, evenly spread throughout the year. However, the city is somewhat drier and noticeably sunnier in the summer months, experiencing on average 100 mm of precipitation during those months.
Average temperatures range from 8.9 °C in January to 21.5 °C in August. The first evidence of human stationary presence in the current city is the settlement of Ametzagaña, between South Intxaurrondo and Astigarraga; the unearthed remains, such as carved stone used as knives to cut animal skin, date from 24,000 to 22,000 BC. The open-air findings of the Upper Paleolithic have revealed that the settlers were hunters and Homo sapiens, besides pointing to a much colder climate at the time. San Sebastián is thought to have been in the territory of the Varduli in Roman times. 10 km east of the current city lay the Basque Roman town of Oiasso, for a long time wrongly identified with San Sebastián. After a long period of silence in evidence, in 1014 the monastery of St. Sebastián with its apple orchards, located in the term of Hernani, is donated to the Abbey of Leire by Sancho III of Pamplona. By 1181, the city is chartered by king Sancho VI of Pamplona on the site of Izurum, having jurisdiction over all the territory between the rivers Oria and Bidasoa.
In 1200, the city was conquered by Castile, whose king Alfonso VIII, confirmed its charter, but the Kingdom of Navarre was deprived of its main direct access out to the sea. As soon as 1204, the city nucleus at the foot of Urgull started to be populated with Gascon-speaking colonizers from Bayonne and beyond, who left an important imprint in the city's identity in the centuries to come. In 1265, the use of the city as a seaport is granted to Navarre as part of a wedding pact; the large quantity of Gascons inhabiting the town favoured the development of trade with other European ports and Gascony. The city steered clear of the destructive War of the Bands in Gipuzkoa, the only town in doing so in that territory. In fact, the town only joined Gipuzkoa in 1459. Up to the 16th century, Donostia remained out of wars, but by the beginning of the 15th century, a line of walls of simple construction is attested encircling the town; the last chapter of the town in the Middle Ages was brought about by a fire that devastated Donostia in 1489.
After burning to the ground, the town began a new renaissance by building up with stone instead of bare timber. The advent of the Modern Age brought a period of war for the city. New state boundaries were drawn; the town provided critical naval help to Emperor Charles V during the siege of Hondarribia, which earned the town the titles "Muy Noble y Muy Leal", recorded on its coat of arms. The town aided the monarch by sending a party to the Battle of Noain and providing help to quash the Revolt of the Comuneros in 1521. After these events, who had played a leading role in the political and economic life of the town since its foundation, began to be excluded from influential public positions by means of a string of regional sentences uphe
Barcelona is a city in Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of, 512 metres high. Founded as a Roman city, in the Middle Ages Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon as an economic and administrative centre of this Crown and the capital of the Principality of Catalonia.
Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination. Renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean are located in Barcelona. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and many international sport tournaments. Barcelona is one of the world's leading tourist, trade fair and cultural centres, its influence in commerce, entertainment, fashion and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities, it is a major cultural and economic centre in southwestern Europe, 24th in the world and a financial centre. In 2008 it was the fourth most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world with GDP amounting to €177 billion. In 2012 Barcelona had a GDP of $170 billion. In 2009 the city was ranked one of the world's most successful as a city brand.
In the same year the city was ranked Europe's fourth best city for business and fastest improving European city, with growth improved by 17% per year, the city has been experiencing strong and renewed growth for the past three years. Since 2011 Barcelona has been a leading smart city in Europe. Barcelona is a transport hub, with the Port of Barcelona being one of Europe's principal seaports and busiest European passenger port, an international airport, Barcelona–El Prat Airport, which handles over 50 million passengers per year, an extensive motorway network, a high-speed rail line with a link to France and the rest of Europe; the name Barcelona comes from the ancient Iberian Barkeno, attested in an ancient coin inscription found on the right side of the coin in Iberian script as, in ancient Greek sources as Βαρκινών, Barkinṓn. Some older sources suggest that the city may have been named after the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, supposed to have founded the city in the 3rd century BC, but there is no evidence that Barcelona was a Carthaginian settlement, or that its name in antiquity, had any connection with the Barcid family of Hamilcar.
During the Middle Ages, the city was variously known as Barchinona, Barçalona and Barchenona. Internationally, Barcelona's name is wrongly abbreviated to'Barça'. However, this name refers only to the football club; the common abbreviated form used by locals is Barna. Another common abbreviation is'BCN', the IATA airport code of the Barcelona-El Prat Airport; the city is referred to as the Ciutat Comtal in Catalan, Ciudad Condal in Spanish, owing to its past as the seat of the Count of Barcelona. The origin of the earliest settlement at the site of present-day Barcelona is unclear; the ruins of an early settlement have been found, including different tombs and dwellings dating to earlier than 5000 BC. The founding of Barcelona is the subject of two different legends; the first attributes the founding of the city to the mythological Hercules. The second legend attributes the foundation of the city directly to the historical Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, who named the city Barcino after his family in the 3rd century BC, but there is no historical or linguistic evidence that this is true.
In about 15 BC, the Romans redrew the town as a castrum centred on the "Mons Taber", a little hill near the contemporary city hall. Under the Romans, it was a colony with the surname of Faventia, or, in full, Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino or Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino. Pomponius Mela mentions it among the small towns of the district as it was eclipsed by its neighbour Tarraco, but it may be gathered from writers that it grew in wealth and consequence, favoured as it was with a beautiful situation and an excellent harbour, it enjoyed immunity from imperial burdens. The city minted its own coins. Important Roman vestiges are displayed in Plaça del Rei underground, as a part of the Barcelona City History Museum; some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the cathedral. The cathedral known as the Basilica La Seu, is said to have been founded in 343; the city