The history of Barcelona stretches back well over 2000 years to its origins as an Iberian village named Barkeno.
Its easily defensible location on the coastal plain between the Collserola ridge (512 m) and the Mediterranean sea, the coastal route between central Europe and the rest of the Iberian peninsula, has ensured its continued importance, if not always preeminence, throughout the ages. Barcelona is currently a city of 1,620,943, the second largest in Spain, and the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia. Its wider urban region is home to three-quarters of the population of Catalonia and one-eighth of that of Spain. At least two founding myths have been proposed for Barcelona by romantic historians since the 15th century. One credits the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal, with the foundation of the city around 230 BC, giving it the name Barkenon. Despite the similarities between the name of this Carthaginian family and that of the modern city, it is usually accepted that the origin of the name “Barcelona” is the Iberian Barkeno.The second myth attributes the foundation of the city to Hercules before the foundation of Rome. During the fourth of his Labours, Hercules joins Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece, travelling across the Mediterranean in nine ships. One of the ships is lost in a storm off the Catalan coast, and Hercules sets out to locate it. He finds it wrecked by a small hill, but with the crew saved. The crew are so taken by the beauty of the location that they found a city with the name Barca Nona (“Ninth Ship”). Roman Barcino Information about the period from 218 BC until the 1st century BC is scarce. The Roman Republic contested the Carthaginian control of the area, and eventually set out to conquer the whole of the Iberian peninsula in the Cantabrian Wars, a conquest which was declared complete by Caesar Augustus in 19 BC.The north-east of the peninsula was the first region to fall under Roman control, and served as a base for further conquests. While Barcelona was settled by the Romans during this period under the name of Barcino (see below), it was considerably less important than the major centres of Tarraco and Caesaraugusta, the latter of which is known today as Zaragoza. The name Barcino was formalised around the end of the reign of Caesar Augustus (AD 14). It was a shortened version of the name which had been official up until then, Colonia Faventia Julia Augusta Pia Barcino (also Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino) and Colonia Faventia.As a colonia, it was established to distribute land among retired soldiers. The Roman geographer Pomponius Mela refers to Barcino as one of a number of small settlements near Tarraco, a town wealthy in maritime resources.However, Barcino’s strategic position on a branch of the Via Augusta allowed its commercial and economic development,and it enjoyed immunity from imperial taxation. At the time of Caesar Augustus, Barcino had the form of a castrum, with the usual central forum and perpendicular main streets: the Cardus Maximus (Carrer de la Llibreteria) and the Decumanus Maximus (Carrer del Bisbe) intersecting at the top (25 m) of the Táber hill (Mons Táber), site of the Iberian Barkeno.The perimeter walls were 1.5 km long,
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