By Aram Arkun
BARCELONA, Spain – When you ask Armenians about the Armenian community of Barcelona, the only name at best that comes up is that of Vigen Hovsepyan. Now a Yerevan-based singer, Hovsepyan lived in Barcelona with his family as a teenager, and sings Spanish and Armenian songs. However, there is an active community there that deserves to be better known.
The Armenians of Barcelona form the most organized segment of the Spanish Armenian community. Most are recent immigrants from Armenia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, though there were scattered numbers of individuals coming to Spain from the Middle East and elsewhere even before this. Datev Soulahian, president of the Associació Cultural Armenia de Barcelona (ACAB), estimates that there are around 3,000 Armenians in Barcelona, as well as more in surrounding areas. Though many initial immigrants went into construction and restaurant work, as accessible initial jobs, there are now many professionals in fields like law or business.
Founded in 2004, ACAB has a physical center called Casa Armenia or Hay Doun (Armenian House) which it established in cooperation with the Armenian General Benevolent Union in 2010. It is located in a central location in the upscale Eixample neighborhood. Although few Armenians actually live in this neighborhood, it is convenient because of the good public transportation network.