Barcelona names: Barcelona City Nicknames – Its Many Names

Barcelona City Nicknames – Its Many Names

Arts & Culture


by Lorraine

3 min read

Barcelona is one the most frequented cities in the world, yet where does its distinctive name come from? The Catalan capital´s title has historically undergone many changes.

However, its origins remain unclear with many theories and myths surrounding its source.


Table of Contents

Barcelona City Nicknames – why so many different names?

Origin of Barcelona’s name

The first of many legends states that the name Barcelona is an adaption of the original name, Barke-no¸ which was given to the city by Iberian settlers. This is supposedly attested in an ancient coin inscription from the Iberian times.

The second suggests that Barcelona was founded by the ancient Phoenicians and Carthaginians. The ruler was the Carthaginian, Hamilcar Barca and therefore the name may have come from the Carthaginian surname Barca, which means ‘ray’.

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Another tale describes the tribe of the Layetanos who were conquered by Cornelio Escipión and that the area subsequently became a Roman colony named Iulia Augusta Paterna Faventia Barcino, from which the name of Barcelona was derived.

A legend from the Roman times states that Hercules set out on a sea expedition in search of the Golden Fleece. During the 9-boat voyage there was a huge storm, the first 8 boats escaped without damage, whilst the ninth was lost at sea.

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Hercules set out to find it and found the boat shipwrecked at Montjuic. The navigators were so taken by the place´s beauty that they named it after the lost boat- “Barca Nona” (the ninth boat).

During the Middle Ages the city was subject to a host of various names including Barchinona, Barçalona, Barchelonaa, and Barchenona.

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Barcelona’s nicknames

Whilst the city now retains its modern designation, this doesn’t stop it from being subject to a selection of alternative nicknames used by locals and visitors alike:

What NOT to say!

Firstly, don’t make the rookie mistake of referring to the city as Barca. This Barcelona short name is strictly used only to describe the cities beloved football team, Barcelona FC.

Photo via Visualhunt

Nickname #1: Barna

Looking to blend in with the locals? Barna is one of the most popular colloquial terms you will hear. Distinctly used by locals.

Use this nickname to sound like a true Barcelonian, especially amongst the younger crowd where this term is popular.

Nickname #2: BCN

In your time here, you may come across the term BCN, this is written only abbreviation.

Popularized by the council, this contraction corresponds to the International Air Transport Association airport code of the Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

Photo via Pixabay

Nickname #3: Ciudad Condal

Ciudad Condal is a synonym commonly used in the Spanish media. It is in reference to the city’s status as a seat of the Counts of Barcelona.

It is also seen as “Ciutat Comtal” in Catalan and translates as County City in English.

Related article: Tarragona, a City With a Roman History

What others used to call Barcelona and why

A Slightly disapproving yet still humorous term for Barcelona particularly used by people from the Girona province is Can Fanga.

This means the House or Farm of Mud, in reference to the cities mucky unpaved streets in the late 19th/early 20th century.

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Were you aware of the many names of Barcelona city centre?
What is your favourite?

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About the author


Lorraine has an extensive experience in audiovisual techniques, writing and teaching. She has been living in Barcelona for the past 16 years.

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Barcelona Nickname (2023) – How do locals call their city

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Don’t call it Barça! Barcelona has been considered one of the most popular destinations in the world for many years. But do you actually know how to abbreviate the city’s relatively long name? Often, people use Barça as a Barcelona nickname. But this is wrong.

The locals of Barcelona sometimes even resent it if you call Barcelona Barça. But what is the correct abbreviation for Barcelona? – What do Spaniards call Barcelona? Or is there even a slang for Barcelona?

I have been living in the city for several years and am married to a Barcelonan. In this article, I would like to answer the question: “What is the short form of Barcelona?” so that you can avoid unpleasant mistakes. In addition, I will tell you more about the origin of the name Barcelona and how Barcelona is pronounced correctly (in English, Catalan, and Spanish).

So let’s get started right away and find out more about the accurate nickname of Barcelona City.

What to find out in this post

  • 1 Barcelona Nickname – Is the city called Barna or Barça?
  • 2 The correct nickname of Barcelona – What do Spaniards call Barcelona?
  • 3 Barcelona name origin – Where does the name Barcelona come from?
  • 4 Barcelona Pronunciation
  • 5 Frequently Asked Questions about Barcelona’s name

Barcelona Nickname – Is the city called Barna or Barça?

The correct official nickname for the city of Barcelona is Barna, while the official abbreviation is BCN. In Spain, the city is also known as Ciudad Condal, which refers to the former counties of the region. Barça, on the other hand, refers exclusively to the FC Barcelona soccer club and not to the city.

The correct nickname of Barcelona – What do Spaniards call Barcelona?

The view from Park Güell over Barcelona

Barcelona has many names, and not all of them are correct. In the following part, we will take a closer look at the common names for Barcelona to see where they come from and how to use each Barcelona short form correctly.

Is Barna short for Barcelona?

The correct nickname for Barcelona is Barna. Locals and Spaniards also call the city by this name. So if you want to abbreviate the name or avoid pronunciation errors, you can simply use the term Barna.

How to pronounce Barna

The nickname for the city of Barcelona, Barna, is pronounced /ˈbar.nə/ (pronounced Bar-Nah).

The nickname Barna is composed of the first and last syllables of the city name Barcelona.

Is Barça short for Barcelona?

Barça does not refer to the city of Barcelona but exclusively to the city’s soccer team, FC Barcelona. Locals usually don’t like to hear the city of Barcelona referred to as Barça. Therefore, you should avoid this at all costs.

How to pronounce Barça

The Catalan nickname of FC Barcelona is pronounced as /ˈbɑɹsə/ (pronounced Bar-sa).

The name Barça is derived from the Catalan pronunciation of the city’s name and, consequently, the name of the soccer team. In Catalan, Barcelona is pronounced /bər.səˈlo.nə/ (pronounced “Barsalona”).

Is Barca short for Barcelona?

Barca is neither the name of the city of Barcelona nor the city’s soccer club. The Spanish word Barca can be translated as “boat.” The city of Barcelona, on the other hand, is abbreviated as Barna, and the soccer team FC Barcelona is Barça.

Is BCN short for Barcelona?

BCN is the official abbreviation (IATA Airport Code) for Barcelona El Prat Airport. Thus, the acronym can also be used for the city of Barcelona itself. BCN is used in official circles and is therefore generally accepted as an abbreviation for the Catalan capital.

Is Ciudad Condal a nickname for Barcelona?

Within Spain, Barcelona is also known as Ciudad Condal. This term goes back to the designation from the 9th century, in which Barcelona was the administrative seat of various counties (Spanish: “Condales“) in the north of Catalonia.

Catalonia was not united at that time but divided into several smaller counties. These counties were administered over four generations by a count in the city (Spanish: “Ciudad“) of Barcelona and his descendants with the same name, Ramón Berenguer.

The last of the line, Ramón Berenguer IV, was historically significant for the region. This is because his marriage to Petronila de Aragón led to the end of the Catalan counties. The individual Catalan counties were united under the Aragonese crown by the union of the two.

However, the name Ciudad Condal, which refers to the individual counties of Catalonia controlled from Barcelona, is still used among locals. You can therefore translate it roughly as “city of the counts.”

What about Ciutat Comtal?

The name Ciutat Comtal can also be used as a nickname for Barcelona. This is the Catalan translation of the city’s nickname, “Ciudad Condal.”

Barcelona name origin – Where does the name Barcelona come from?

Now that we have clarified how you can abbreviate Barcelona, you may also wonder how the name Barcelona came about. To this day, however, this is not 100% clear. But there are a few theories of linguists on this subject.

One assumes that the name Barcelona goes back to the Iberian name Barkeno. The Iberians settled the city in the 4th century BC.

While the exact origin of the Iberian name is not entirely clear, some suggest that the name goes back to the Carthaginian ruler Hamilcar Barca, who may have founded Barcelona. However, it has not been proven that Barcelona was ever under Carthaginian rule at all.

Another legend says that none other than Hercules founded the city. With his nine ships, he arrived in the region near Montjuïcs. Subsequently, he named the newly established town after his nine ships (“Barca Nona”).

Over the years, the city was called Βαρκινών (pronounced Barkinón) by the ancient Greeks and afterward, Barcino, Barcilonum, and Barcenona under Roman rule.

During the Middle Ages, the name of the city evolved into Barchinona, Barçalona, Barchelonaa, and Barchenona.

Over the centuries, it evolved into the name we know today, Barcelona.

Barcelona Pronunciation

View of the beautiful Sagrada Família

Now we know how the name Barcelona (maybe) evolved. But how do you actually pronounce the name of the city correctly?

For English speakers, there are three correct ways to pronounce the name Barcelona, the Spanish, the Catalan, and the English (well, to be even more precise, there is even a slight difference in the British and American English pronunciation).

The English and Spanish pronunciations of Barcelona are quite similar but not completely identical. While Barcelona is pronounced /baɾθeˈlona/ in Spanish, the American English pronunciation, on the other hand, is: /ˌbɑɹsəˈloʊnə/, and the British English sounds more like  /ˌbɑːsəˈləʊnə/. The hyphenation should sound something like this: Bar-ce-lo-na.

The main difference between the two is the pronunciation of the C. Here, the Spanish C is pronounced a bit like an English th. In English, on the other hand, we pronounce the C more like a sharp S. Moreover, in standard British English, the R is often not pronounced.

Some international visitors like to add a T to the name to form something like BarTselona. However, this is not correct.

In Catalan, the pronunciation of the city name Barcelona is somewhat different. Since the unstressed vowels are reversed in Catalan, the E in the name is pronounced like an A, i.e.,/bər.səˈlo.nə/ (pronounced “Barsalona“).

Frequently Asked Questions about Barcelona’s name

What was Barcelona called in the past?

The Catalan capital Barcelona changed its name a few times over the centuries from Barkeno to Barcino to Barkinon, Barcilonum and Barcenona, in the Middle Ages, Barchinona, Barçalona, Barchelonaa, and Barchenona to today’s Barcelona.

What does Barcelona mean?

The city name Barcelona has no independent meaning but is merely a city name. To this day, it is not clear how the name originated. A legend says that the term refers to the Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca.

Is Barça the nickname for Barcelona?

Barça is used as a nickname for the soccer team FC Barcelona. However, the name does not refer to the Catalan capital, Barcelona.

Is the name Barcelona Spanish or Catalan?

The name of the Catalan capital, Barcelona, is used in both Spanish and Catalan, with slightly different pronunciations.

Who founded Barcelona?

Until today it is not clear who really founded Barcelona. One legend says that Hercules founded Barcelona. According to another legend, the city was founded by Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar Barca.

Wie lautet der Spitzname für den FC Barcelona?

The soccer team FC Barcelona can also be called Barça or Blaugrana. On the other hand, Barna refers only to the city of Barcelona.

What are Barcelona Fans called?

The fans of the soccer team FB Barcelona call themselves Culers or Barcelonistes. You can also call them Blaugranes or Azulgranes.

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The most popular baby names in Barcelona in 2021.

Spain in Russian

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  • The Institute of Statistics of Catalonia reveals the most popular names given by parents to their children in Barcelona during 2021. The rating is headed by the names of Leo and Lucia. Last year in Barcelona there were 297 Leo more. For the first time in a long time, this male name tops the list. It is followed by the names Neil, Mark, Paul and Bruno. As for female names, Lucia is in the lead (278 girls are named by this name during the year). It is followed by the names of Emma, ​​Julia, Martina and Mia.

    The complete list of the most popular names in Barcelona is as follows:

    Leo (297)

    Nile (279)

    Lucia (278)

    Emma (271)

    Julia (271)

    Mark (268)

    Paul (267)

    Martina (263)

    Mia (258)

    Bruno (250)

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