'An area of the city defined by its vitality is now empty and it has become a scene of slaughter'
Barcelona is inextricably linked to the phrase "mes que un club", its local football team's motto declaring it to be "more than a club", because of the role it plays in local life.
To anyone who has lived there it is more than a city.
I studied in Barcelona two years ago and could not help but fall in love with the place.
I chose Barcelona for a variety of reasons: its passion for sport, the low cost of living compared to Ireland and its wonderful climate.
For many, Las Ramblas is the cultural artery of the city, comparable with Grafton Street but without the exorbitant prices.
I was able to rent a room in an apartment 100ft away from the thoroughfare for less than €450 per month.
Life there is very different; the sun rises early and sets late.
Days in college were punctuated by a swim in the sea. At the weekends, we would head for Bunkers del Carmel, a series of ruined Spanish civil war bunkers that offered breathtaking views of the city as the sun set behind it.
The ruins acted as a reminder of Barcelona's troubled past but also provided some respite from what my local friends dubbed the "selfie stick warriors" - that's tourists to you and me.
Barcelona's locals have a love/hate relationship with tourists.
They have been the subject of a number of major protests recently and are blamed for a dilution of local culture and a rise in the cost of living.
However, last night locals were united with their visitors in grief and shock.
The city was once a canvas for artist-come-architect extraordinaire Antoni Gaudi, whose work is evident everywhere you look.
It is a focal point for Catalunya's bid for independence from Spain.
It is one of the few major sprawling European cities to have beaches within walking distance of the main shopping areas and its laid-back, suntrap vibes on the Mediterranean coast attract millions of visitors every year.
Visitors and locals alike will stroll down Las Ramblas at some stage, the city's main thoroughfare and the site of yesterday's terror attack.
Shoppers would have stopped off at the numerous kiosks dotted the length of the kilometre-long strip for ice cream, a drink or a bite to eat when the attack happened.
The street is largely pedestrianised and made up of three footpaths. At night the area can become quite sinister.
Locals are warned of rife pickpocketing and the bottom of the strip is often used by ladies-of-the night.
During the day, it is friendly, filled with street performers, flower sellers and pleasant waiters.
Every time their football team wins a trophy, locals meet here to rejoice.
It is at the centre of life and is regularly shut down for parades.
Las Ramblas is the epicentre of local culture and celebration. It was empty with the shutters down last night as armed police in swat gear used flashlights to hunt down the killers.
Outside, bodies lay strewn on the pavement next to the Virreina Palace.
It was jarring to see an area defined by its vitality, its colour, and its vivacity now empty and desolate - a scene of slaughter