The Catalans are well known for their celebration of culture, history, and education, so whilst discovering Barcelona what better place to start than the University of Barcelona, an institution with a rich history of higher education. Whether you are interested in enrolling on one of its many internationally renowned courses or you just want to know more about the University’s history and position as the countries leading academic institution, then let this be your guide.
Rankings and Faculties
The University of Barcelona’s academic excellence is well documented. It currently stands as the best university in the country, according to the QS World University Rankings list, and often places amongst the top 100 Universities in the world. As one of the biggest universities in the country, the institution is home to over 54,000 students. It annually welcomes a large number of students from all over the world, with 15% of the University being made up of overseas students, representing 122 nationalities and contributing to its rich diversity. It hosts 75 undergraduate and 353 graduate courses and currently has 96 doctorate programs available. The University has faculties located throughout the city, with many of its main buildings in some of the city’s most historic and charming neighborhoods.
The history of the University dates back to the thirteenth century when the city possessed several civil and ecclesiastical schools, these schools of higher education were unified into the Estudi General of Barcelona in 1450 by King Alphonse the Magnanimous. Since that time the University has survived through tumultuous periods; including the capture of Barcelona by the French during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714, where all studies were moved to Cervera. By 1842 the University was permanently restored to the city, surviving on through the constraints of severe repression during the era of the Franco dictatorship. A phase of modernization and democratization started in 1977 and the University’s position as an outward-looking and innovative institution has grown to international recognition ever since.
As well as its academic prowess the University also boasts a number of architecturally stunning spaces. Across many of its sites, you will find diverse architectural styles that represent both the University’s and the city’s rich and varied history. Five of its buildings are listed in Google’s selection of fifty Spanish historical treasures. Perhaps the best place to start exploring is at the aptly named Historic building which was designed by Elies Rogent and completed back in 1884. Located directly across from Plaça de la Universitat, a city square that has long served as a space for protest and debate, the Historic Building is perhaps the most emblematic of the University’s spaces. The pillars of its impressive vestibule serve as a majestic entrance-way to this Neo-Romanesque beauty. Other university locations worth exploring are The Palau de les Heures and The Gaudí Pavilions, you can contact the University here to ask about tours.
Many influential people have studied at the University throughout the years. Six-time NBA all-star and Barcelona native Pau Gasol was a medical student here back in the late 90’s. The prolific Spanish film director Isabel Coixet studied contemporary history at the university before going on to make some of most acclaimed films in Spanish cinema history. The city’s favorite architect Antoni Gaudi was also a student at the institution, as was American physicist and game theorist Richard Arnold Epstein.
Where to start
If you are interested in studying at the university or would like to take a tour around one of its historic buildings, check out it’s informative and accessible website which is available in English here.