The most relevant seismic vulnerability and risk analysis methods are discussed and compared in this article using, as a pilot urban area, the city of Barcelona, Spain, where risk studies have been carried out over the last 15 years in the framework of different research projects. Most of the buildings in Barcelona, which have unreinforced masonry structure or reinforced concrete structure with waffled slab floors, show a high degree of vulnerability to earthquakes. The physical seismic risk but also the socio-economic implications of risk are considered in the article. The robustness of the innovative holistic approach, based on indicators related to the physical exposure, the social fragilities and the lack of resilience of urban area, is also proved. Using a geographic information system (GIS), the seismic risk results are described by means of scenarios of expected losses, but also as scenarios of probabilities of occurrence of predefined damage states.