BARCELONA - NEIGHBORHOODS
Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter)
This beautiful neighborhood used to be the Roman village of Barcino and you can still see portions of the Roman wall through this area. Fully pedestrian, the narrow, winding streets create a labyrinth with many peaceful squares (placas) where you can relax and enjoy your surroundings. The Barri Gotic offers attractions such as the Cathedral de la Seu, the Placa de Sant Jaume and the medieval palace of the Placa del Rei, as well as smaller squares, such as the Placa Felip Neri with a central fountain, the oasis-like courtyard of the Frederic Mares Museum and small chapels set into the sides of medieval buildings. Most of them can only be discovered on foot, ideally at sunset when the fading Mediterranean light lends the stone buildings a warm hue. El Call, the original Jewish quarter, is also located within the Barri Gotic. You will be spoiled for choice of restaurants and bars, especially around Placa Reial, which is always full day and night. The nightlife in the Gothic Quarter is lively to say the least and you will always find somewhere to have a drink or a dance. Shopping is also amazing in the Gothic Quarter, from the more commercial area of Calle Portal de L`Angel to all the little boutiques on Calle Avinyo.
The Gothic Quarter is roughly bounded by the Passeig de Colom to the south; the Placa de Catalunya, Carrer de Rivadeneyra, Carrer de Bertrellans, Carrer d`En Bot, Carrer d`en Quintana, Placa Reial, and Carrer Nou de Sant Francesc to the west; the Via Laietana to the east; and the Ronda de Sant Pere to the north. Jaume I Metro station is located on the Via Laietana and the Placa de l`Angel. The Gothic Quarter is known for many popular points of interest, such as the Placa de Catalunya; the Esglesia Santa Ana; the Museu d`Historia de Barcelona; Barcelona Cathedral; Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya; and Placa de Sant Jaume.
The most famous promenade in Spain, ranking with Madrid`s Paseo del Prado, was once a riverbed. These days, street entertainers, flower vendors, news vendors, cafe patrons, and strollers flow along La Rambla`s length. Sometimes you will see the name pluralized (Las Ramblas in Spanish and Les Rambles in Catalan) and that`s because the promenade consists of five sections, each a particular rambla - Rambla de Canaletes, Rambla dels Estudis, Rambla de Sant Josep, Rambla dels Caputxins, and Rambla de Santa Monica. The shaded pedestrian esplanade runs from the Placa de Catalunya to the port and all the way to the Columbus Monument. Watch out for the giant sidewalk mosaic by Joan Miro halfway down at the Placa de la Boqueria. At the top of La Rambla is Placa de Catalunya from where you can go onto Passeig de Gracia if your shopping tastes are slightly more designer-oriented, or if you want to see Gaudi`s buildings.
La Rambla is roughly bounded by Carrer de Balmes, Carrer de Jovellanos, Carrer de les Ramelleres, Placa del Canonge Colom, Carrer de la Junta de Comerc, Carrer de Guardia, Carrer de Montserrat, and Avinguda de les Drassanes to the west; Passeig de Colom to the south; the Placa de Catalunya, Carrer de Rivadeneyra, Carrer de Bertrellans, Carrer d`En Bot, Carrer d`en Quintana, Placa Reial, and Carrer Nou de Sant Francesc to the east; and the Ronda de Sant Pere to the north. Drassanes and Liceu Metro stations are located in La Rambla. Noteworthy sights in the La Rambla neighborhood include the eponymous thoroughfare, a tree-lined pedestrian street which stretches on for three-quarters of a mile and connects the Placa de Catalunya and the Christopher Columbus statue at Port Vell. Other sights include the Mercado de la Boqueria; the Gran Teatre del Liceu; the Placa Reial; the Palau Guell; and the Barcelona Wax Museum.
This is the neighborhood of the old town just to the west of La Rambla. Historically, it`s had an incredibly seedy reputation, but this changed right before the 1992 Olympics. These days, it`s a vibrant place for nightlife; and while still very much an immigrant neighborhood, it`s home to many bars and restaurants. El Raval has recently been cited as the neighborhood with the greatest multicultural mix in Europe. A quick stroll around its maze of streets, where Pakistani fabric merchants and South American spice sellers stand side by side with traditional establishments selling dried cod and local wine, confirms the fact. The adhan (the Muslim call to prayer) wafts from ground-floor mosques next to neo-hippie bars, yoga schools, and contemporary art galleries.
El Raval is roughly bounded by the Carrer de Casanova and the Carrer de la Riereta to the west; Carrer Nou de la Rambla to the southwest; Avinguda del Parallel to the south; and the Carrer de Balmes, Carrer de Jovellanos, Carrer de les Ramelleres, Placa del Canonge Colom, Carrer de la Junta de Comerc, Carrer de Guardia, Carrer de Montserrat, and Avinguda de les Drassanes to the east. Universitat Metro station is located on Ronda de la Universitat. Points of interest in El Raval include the Teatre Goya; the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art; the Biblioteca de Catalunya; and the Museu Maritim de Barcelona.
La Ribera comprises a large section of the Old Town. It is often mistakenly called the El Born after the large, 19th century market that sits in the area below Carrer de la Princesa. It is a very happening neighborhood with lots to do and see. By day, there are many small shops and local designers. By night, there is a thriving bar and restaurant scene. It`s easily reachable on foot and contains no end of old buildings, many of which date back to the 15th century. Carrer Montcada has the biggest collection of Gothic houses in Barcelona. Among these is the Museu Picasso, which is definitely worth a visit. Palau de la Musica Catalana, a Modernist design by Lluis Domenech i Montaner, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The La Ribera neighborhood is roughly bounded by the Ronda de Sant Pere to the north; the Passeig de Lluis Companys and the Parc de la Ciutadella to the east; the Estacio de Franca to the southeast; the Placa de Pau Vila and the Carrer del Doctor Aiguader to the south; and the Via Laietana to the west. Urquinaona Metro station is located just off Placa d`Urquinaona. Noteworthy landmarks and attractions in the La Ribera neighborhood include the Palau de la Musica Catalana; the L`Antic Teatre; the Museu Europeu d'Art Modern; the Museu Picasso; the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar; Casa Llotja de Mar; and the Estacio de Franca on the southern edge.
To the north of the Placa de Catalunya is the massive section of Barcelona that grew beyond the old medieval walls. The area benefited greatly from the ingenious urban planning of Catalan engineer Cerdes in the 1850s, who had a fondness for straight lines (the whole area is set out in a grid with each block having an inner courtyard). The Modernistes were the neighborhood`s earliest architects, filling the blocks with such masterpieces as Gaudi`s La Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, and Casa Batllo. L`Eixample is a living, breathing museum piece with an abundance of Art Nouveau architecture and details not found anywhere else in Europe. Passeig de Gracia is the heart of Eixample and the line that cuts the area into two from 'Eixample left' and 'Eixample right'. Here you will find most of Barcelona's international designer shops such as Chanel and MaxMara. Eixample is a safe and residential part of the city, but there is also vibrant nightlife and a thriving café culture. It is a beautiful barrio to wander around, take in the glorious architecture and people-watch from one of the many terrace cafes.
L`Eixample is roughly bounded by the Avinguda Diagonal to the north; the Carrer d`Enric Granados to the west; the Passeig de Sant Joan to the east; and the Ronda de Sant Pere to the south. Rail and Metro stations located in L`Eixample include Provenca, Diagonal, Girona, and Passeig de Gracia. Points of interest you should see in L`Eixample include the Avinguda Diagonal, a main thoroughfare in Barcelona, which passes through the northern part of the neighborhood; the Passeig de Gracia, another important thoroughfare; and a trio of buildings either designed by noted architect Antoni Gaudi or inspired by his Modernisme movement: the Casa Battlo, the Casa Amattler, and the Casa Lleo Morera.
This was a fisherman's quarter with dark and narrow streets, but since the 1992 Olympics, significant gentrification has taken place, principally along the seafront. Noteworthy points of interest in Barceloneta include the neighborhood beach, Barceloneta Beach; Port Vell, the ferry port which was once the old passenger port of Barcelona; and the History Museum of Catalonia. The Barceloneta neighborhood is roughly bounded by the Ronda Litoral to the north; the Casino Barcelona, Hotel Arts and Port Olimpic to the northeast; Barceloneta Beach to the east; the Marina Vela Barcelona to the south; and Port Vell to the west (with L`Aquarium across the water). The closest Metro station is Ciutadella Vila Olimpica.
L`Esquerra de L`Eixample
L`Esquerra de L`Eixample is fairly new, in that its oldest buildings were only built at the turn of the twentieth century. You will see those designs in the ubiquitous apartment blocks with ornate facades. The rest of the buildings were designed decades later, with many of them designed in Modernist and subsequent inspired architectural designs. One exception is the beautiful Neo-Romanesque Barcelona University main building. Points of interest include Teatre de L`Eixample, Parc de Joan Miro, and the Placa de Espana. Also in this neighborhood you will find thriving shopping streets, including some open-air markets, and a portion of Barcelona`s large LGBT community. The six to eight blocks west of the Placa del Doctor Letamendi, along Carrer d`Arago, is called `Gaixample` due to the cluster of LGBT-friendly businesses there.
L`Esquerra de L`Eixample is roughly bounded by the Avinguda de Josep Tarradellas and the Carrer de Tarragona to the west; the Avinguda Diagonal to the north; the Carrer d`Enric Granados to the east; and the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes to the south. Rocafort and Urgell Metro stations are located on the Gran Via; Hospital Clinic and Entenca Metro stations are located inside the L`Esquerra neighborhood.
L`Eixample (Fort Pienc)
Fort Pienc is the Catalan name for Fort Pius, a military fortification designed to protect the waterfront from attackers who wished to make their way onto the shore. The old fort, which was in existence until the nineteenth century, was located roughly where the Estacio del Nord train station is today. Noteworthy attractions in Fort Pienc include La Monumental, the former municipal bullring which is now a museum dedicated to the sport; the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya; and L`Auditori. Fort Pienc is home to a budding food scene and dozens of restaurants of all types. It is also the home to the largest Chinese population in Barcelona, and the neighborhood also has the highest concentration of young people out of any other neighborhood in the city.
Fort Pienc is roughly bounded by the Avinguda Diagonal to the north; the Avinguda Meridiana to the east; the Passeig de Pujades to the south; and the Passeig de Lluis Companys to the west. Fort Pienc is home to Monumental, Arc de Triomf and Marina Metro stations. Glories Metro station is located at the junction of the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes and Avinguda Meridiana.
Sant Antoni began to take its current shape in the last decades of the nineteenth century. A building boom occurred before the 1929 International Exposition, and many of the structures you see in the neighborhood today date from this time. For a long time this neighborhood was poorer than its neighbors and had problems with prostitution, but since the 1980s, the neighborhood has undergone gentrification and it is now one of the safest areas in the city. The Ronda de Sant Antoni, leading up to the market of the same name, has become pedestrianized, and is a great place to stroll around. If you want a quieter experience, consider staying in Sant Antoni.
Sant Antoni is roughly bounded by the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes to the north; the Avinguda del Parallel to the south; Carrer Nou de la Rambla to the southeast; and the Carrer de Casanova and the Carrer de la Riereta to the northeast and east. Rocafort and Urgell Metro stations are located on the Gran Via, with Poble Sec station located on Avinguda del Parallel and Sant Antoni station adjacent to the Placa del Dubte. Points of interest in Sant Antoni include the Mercat de Sant Antoni, the neighborhood public market; and the Sant Pau de Camp monastery.
Vila de Gracia
This charming neighborhood sprawls out northward of the intersection of the Passeig de Gràcia and the Diagonal. Its contained, village-like ambience stems from the fact that it was once a separate town, only connected to central Barcelona in 1897 with the construction of the Passeig de Gràcia. Stretching all the way up to Parc Guell, Vila de Gracia is one of the two lower portions of Gracia proper. Vila de Gracia was the first portion of the neighborhood of Gracia to be built, at the turn of the eighteenth century. Placa de Sol is the most renowned area of Vila de Gracia; it`s lined with terrace cafes and at night this is where the people convene to drink and be merry. Two streets down, the Placa de la Vila de Gracia offers a more subdued version of the merriment at Placa del Sol, and is popular with families and children.
Vila de Gracia is roughly bounded to the north by Carrer del Montseny, Carrer de la Perla, and Carrer de Sant Lluis; Passeig de Sant Joan to the east; Via Augusta to the west; and Avinguda Diagonal to the south. Verdaguer and Gracia Metro stations are located close by, with Joanic and Fontana stations just to the north. In addition to the placas outlined above, another point of interest you shouldn`t miss is Casa Vicens, the first house designed by Antoni Gaudi, just to the north of the neighborhood.
Gracia Nova has a strong industrial and artisan history, and many street-level workshops can still be seen. Gracia Nova was born as a planned mixed-use residential and industrial neighborhood, and was built in the nineteenth century. Jeroni Grassot was one of the original landowners, from which Gracia Nova`s full name (Camp d`en Grassot i Gracia Nova) is derived. A silk factory was built around 1900, which helped the area grow and thrive. Today, the area is popular with artists and a generally bohemian crowd. It also has a high ethnic population and the highest concentration of foreign restaurants in Barcelona. The area is perfect for those who want something a little bit different. Although, because central Barcelona is so easily accessible from Gracia Nova, it is suitable for everyone.
The Gracia Nova neighbohood is roughly bounded by Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret to the northwest; Carrer de la Independencia to the northeast; Avinguda Diagonal to the southeast; and Passeig de Sant Joan to the southwest. Sant Pau-Dos de Maig and Encants Metro stations pass right through Gracia Nova. The most noteworthy point of interest is arguably the building that is synonymous with Barcelona, the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, the pinnacle of architect Antoni Gaudi`s storied career.
The area of Sants-Montjuic is a 10-minute metro ride out of the center of town. The Barcelona Sants train station (Estacio de Sants) is the focal point of the area and is Barcelona`s largest and most well-connected station. Around the station there are several hotels that cater for business people who are in the area, because the neighboring area of Les Corts is a busy financial district, and there are sometimes conventions down at the Fira Convention Center in Placa Espanya. The area of Sants itself doesn`t have that many attractions but the ease with which you can travel to areas of interest is a plus point. You could walk to gorgeous Placa Espanya and Montjuic Hill, where there are many attractions such as Castell de Montjuic, Estadio Olimpic Lluis Companys, the Magic Fountain, the MNAC museum, the Fundacio Joan Miro, and Poble Espanyol. Afterward, you could have some fun with a bit of shopping in the L`Illa complex on Diagonal.
The Sants-Montjuic neighborhood is roughly bounded by the Avinguda Diagonal to the north; the Gran Via de Carles III and the Rambla del Brasil to the west; the N-340 motorway (Carrer de Sants) to the south; and the Avinguda de Josep Tarradellas and the Carrer de Tarragona to the east. Les Corts, Placa del Centre and Sants Estacio rail stations are located inside the Sants-Montjuic neighborhood, and the Placa de Sants, Hostafrancs, and Placa Espanya rail stations are located along the Carrer de Sants. Points of interest in or near the Sants-Montjuic neighborhood include Parc de Montjuic, Barcelona Sants train station, and Camp Nou stadium, home of the Barcelona F.C. soccer club.
This is a 1,000 year old agricultural hamlet on the northwestern outskirts of the city, which retains its village character alongside a fleet of chic restaurants and boutiques. It is among the wealthiest neighborhoods in Barcelona. If you are standing at the top of Muntaner Street looking down, it is easy to understand why. It is far quieter than the rest of Barcelona with many parks and green areas. There are many bars, restaurants and nightclubs along the streets of Amigo, Santalo and Maria Cubi. Shopping is varied and more exclusive than in central Barcelona.
The Sant Gervasi neighborhood is roughly bounded by Gran Via de Carles III and Ronda del General Mitre to the west; Avinguda Diagonal to the south; and the Via Augusta to the north and east. Along the Via Augusta there are five rail stations: La Bonanova, Muntaner, Sant Gervasi, Placa Molina, and Gracia. Maria Cristina Metro station is located just past the Gran Via and the Avinguda Diagonal. Points of interest in Sant Gervasi include the parish church, the Parroquia Sant Gregori Taumaturg, and Turo Parc. If you go about two miles due north of Sant Gervasi, there is Tibidabo mountain, home to the Sagrat Cor temple and the Tibidabo Amusement Park, the oldest theme park in Spain.