Barcelona's early history is rather unclear. With over 2,000 years of history Cataluña has an independent streak and its relations with the rest of Spain have been through many ups and downs making a brief summary of the region's history quity tricky!

It is widely believed that the Carthaginians were the first to settle the site in the third century BCE. Shortly thereafter, the Romans came and took over the area and established a military camp, some remains of which still survive today. Next came a series of invasions by foreign powers. The Visigoths took the city in the early fifth century, followed by the Moors in the eighth century, and the Franks in 801. The area was ruled under feudalism by a succession of Counts of Barcelona, nominated by the Emperor of France.

 During this time the Catalonian empire, centered in Barcelona, became increasingly autonomous and enjoyed a period of affluence. The Crown of Aragon was established in 1137, and the empire expanded throughout the Mediterranean as far as Greece. In 1479, Count Fernando married Isabel of Castile, uniting two of the most powerful monarchies in Spain. This marked the beginning of conflict between Madrid and Barcelona for control of the Kingdom of Spain. Catalonia was continuously suppressed by Spanish rulers, coming to a head in the 17th century when Catalonia declared its independence, but was subsequently devastated by Spanish forces. The War of Spanish Succession saw Catalonia battling against the rest of Spain over who was to assume the Spanish Throne. The war ended in 1714 with the Spanish siege of Barcelona, which led to more Catalonian suppression, including the banning of the Catalonian language.

In the early 1800s, Catalonia was invaded by Napoleon, who installed his brother Joseph as ruler. After Napoleon was overthrown, the area was returned to Spain. Shortly thereafter, Barcelona enjoyed the benefits of the Industrial Revolution, and its population swelled. During this time, the Eixample, or "expansion," portion of the city was created. The World's Fair was held in Barcelona in 1888 in the Parc de la Ciutadella.

The early 20th century was again a period of unrest in Barcelona, with different factions, including anarchists, Catalonian nationalists, and Spanish Republicans competing for power. The Spanish Civil War brought about the fall of Barcelona, who sided with the Republican Government, at the hands of Francisco Franco, there was a period of political oppression. Barcelona achieved the state it exists in today with the death of Franco in 1975 and the return of autonomous rule to Catalonia in 1979 under a democratically-elected government.

The 1992 Olympic games held in Barcelona brought about extensive developments in the city. 

Some more links to: History of BarcelonaA brief history of Catalunya