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The great plague of 1650–1654 halved the city's population.In the 18th century, a fortress was built at Montjuïc that overlooked the harbour.During the Middle Ages, the city was variously known as Barchinona, Barçalona, Barchelonaa, and Barchenona.Internationally, Barcelona's name is wrongly abbreviated to 'Barça'.The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.Barcelona is one of the world's leading tourist, economic, trade fair and cultural centres, and its influence in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities.After being conquered by the Arabs in the early 8th century, it was conquered in 801 by Charlemagne's son Louis, who made Barcelona the seat of the Carolingian "Hispanic March" (Marca Hispanica), a buffer zone ruled by the Count of Barcelona.

Urban planner Ildefons Cerdà designed the large Eixample district in the 1850s when the medieval city walls around Barcelona's old town were torn down.In 1794, this fortress was used by the French astronomer Pierre François André Méchain for observations relating to a survey stretching to Dunkirk that provided the official basis of the measurement of a metre.