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Leisure and Culture

Religion in Catalonia

Written by Emily Elwes

Catalonia as a nation, principality, region or territory has had a fairly consistent religious affiliation to the Roman Catholic Church throughout its history. In more recent times through immigration, various religious populations have begun to develop including a significant percentage of Muslims as well as Protestants, Jews and evangelical Christians. Although religion is waning in Catalonia compared to previous eras it is still a prevalent force and awareness should be obtained about it in this region before finding the perfect monthly rental in Barcelona.

IMG_4577_1024pixelRoman Catholicism

The area known as the Iberian Peninsula where Spain, Portugal and Catalonia are located was converted to Christianity during the Roman Empire between 100 and 300 ACE. Early in the fifth century the Visigoth kingdom conquered the Iberian Peninsula although the population remained staunchly Catholic and the Visigoth kings converted to Catholicism by 587 ACE. Although the Muslim invasion and occupation of the Iberian Peninsula started in 711 ACE by 801 the area later known as Catalonia was liberated by the Frankish Empire and Catholicism was still firmly entrenched in the area. In fact this area was used as a buffer zone between the Christian areas to the east and north and the Muslim occupied Iberian Peninsula. During the Inquisition, the Counter Reformation and Spanish Civil Wars, the religion waxed and waned but was still the chosen religion of the region for most inhabitants. Today, although still the religion recognized as their own by 80% plus of Catalonians, it is one that is waning again with secularization and modernization. Regular Roman calendar holidays are observed but a majority are not regular church-goers.

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There has been a protestant presence in Catalonia as early as the 16th Century as can be evidenced by the Spanish Inquisition and forced conversions, executions, imprisonments and deportations of various religions besides Catholicism. The Glorious Revolution of 1868 allowed freedom of religious liberties and a rise of religions within the peninsula again allowed people to hold to their beliefs. However, during the Franco dictatorship, all religion again was banned and persecuted except Catholicism. Since 1980, religious freedom is now enjoyed across all of Spain and there is an estimated 250 thousand protestants in Catalonia.


The last of the three major religions in the region of Catalonia is that of the Islamic faith, estimated at 450,000 or 6% of the total population. Since the 1980’s this area has attracted consistent immigration from Islamist areas, although mostly in and around the Barcelona area. Most of the Islamic immigration is from neighbouring countries such as Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. The area of Catalonia in generally an open religious community that supports any religion, yet still predominantly identifies as Catholic. Find out where the major concentrations of each religious group are to be close or far when looking at weekly rentals in Barcelona.

There are many religions observed and present in Catalonia, definitely more than the three listed above. If you know of a prominent religious community, besides these three listed, please let us know by commenting below.

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About the author

Emily Elwes

Emily is a freelance content editor & manager living & working in Barcelona. She's passionate about food, drink, language and collaborative consumption.

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