To what extent are European cities today able to nourish a ‘virtu¬ous connection’ between economic competitiveness and social cohesion, to prepare urban development strategies to revitalise the economy and urban quality and the struggle against inequal¬ity at the same time? This paper examines the case of Barcelona, which has, since the 1990s, developed a strategy for introducing its image internationally through tourism, culture, and a series of large international events. The progress of Barcelona offers an interesting viewpoint on the processes of interaction between social, cultural and spatial dynamics, and the challenges this poses for the 21st century, in a period in which social inequalities seem to be growing and cities seem to be weakening in their ability to attract and retain younger populations, support the
weakest groups, and guarantee minimum conditions of well-being for new migrants.
Keywords: Barcelona model; large events; urban regeneration