The history of its penyes goes hand in hand with FC Barcelona. Ever since the club was founded in 1899, its fan base has been increasing as well as the teams they have supported. But there is a special idiosyncrasy about following FC Barcelona that means much more than simply cheering on the teams, and this has drawn the different fan groups together in their activities that spread the Barça values around the world.
The earliest mention of the movement dates from 1919, over a century ago, when a group of supporters asked to use the club facilities for a dance among players and members. But it was not until 1944 that the first penya in the modern sense of an official supporters club was recognised. It was the Penya Solera, which was around for such historic moments as the opening of the Camp Nou.
The Penya Solera was followed by a number of similar groups, especially in Catalonia, where the club naturally had its largest fan base in the late 20th century. The 1990s, with the boom of the Dream Team and the first European Cup at Wembley in 1992 were the catalysts for the movement o start spreading to the rest of Spain. In just four years, the club went from 590 official penyes to over a thousand, and it was the magic of the team masterminded by Johan Cruyff that was the reason.
The new millennium has primarily been about the internationalisation of support for Barça. The inspirational management of Pep Guardiola and the brilliance of Leo Messi awakened interest in the club in other countries in all five continents, and there are now around 1.270 official clubs, much more modern in structure but with the same vitality as ever.