You know Barcelona perhaps for its pristine beaches and rambunctious party scene.

Maybe you know it as the home of one of the top football clubs in the world; FC Barcelona, a basecamp for world-class players like Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. Or perhaps you’re an architecture connoisseur who loves the works of Antoni Gaudí, who designed the world-famous La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. Wherever or however you know it (whether it’s mainstream Ed Sheeran songs or low-key beats by George Ezra), Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is one of the most beautiful, lively, and vibrant places in not just Europe, but the world. Walking through its streets is to be washed over in a sea of color, mouthwatering aromas of seafood and tapas, and serenaded by the melodies of Catalan as you walk past its cathedrals, boutiques, and bars. Barcelona, for all its beauty in the aquatic shades of blue, turquoise, and green, isn’t without a storied past and current strife. Its role as the capital of Catalonia puts it in an important position regarding the future of Spain, as a current movement seeks independence from Spain. The modern independence movement began in 2006 and will be decided in October 2017. In this vein, Barcelona is a city full of people proud of their unique culture—a mixture of Spanish and Catalan traditions. Maybe you’ll pick up some of this pride during your visit to Barcelona as you watch the sun set with panoramic views sitting on the Bunkers of Carmel or relaxing on Plaça del Sol with a few estrallas or embracing the coastal breeze that fills Barcelona’s lungs with enough air to laugh, scream, and enjoy life.