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Important Roman vestiges are displayed in Plaça del Rei underground, as a part of the Barcelona City History Museum MUHBA; the typically Roman grid plan is still visible today in the layout of the historical centre, the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter).Some remaining fragments of the Roman walls have been incorporated into the cathedral.

The common abbreviated form used by locals is Barna.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.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.Madrid became the centre of political power whilst the colonisation of the Americas reduced the financial importance (at least in relative terms) of Mediterranean trade.

Barcelona was a centre of Catalan separatism, including the Catalan Revolt (1640–52) against Philip IV of Spain.

After being conquered by the Arabs in the early 8th century, it was conquered in 801 by Charlemagne's son Louis, who made Barcelona the seat of the Carolingian "Hispanic March" (Marca Hispanica), a buffer zone ruled by the Count of Barcelona.

The Counts of Barcelona became increasingly independent and expanded their territory to include all of Catalonia, although on 6 July 985, Barcelona was sacked by the army of Almanzor.

Another common abbreviation is 'BCN', which is also the IATA airport code of the Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

The city is also referred to as the Ciutat Comtal in Catalan, and Ciudad Condal in Spanish, owing to its past as the seat of the Count of Barcelona.

The great plague of 1650–1654 halved the city's population.