Get to know the city of Barcelona

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia. Located in the northeast of Spain, about 120 km from France and the Pyrenees, it occupies a coastal plain bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the Collserola mountain range and the Llobregat and Besos rivers.

With an area of ​​101.9 km² (39 mi²), it has an approximate population of 1,660,314 inhabitants (2021 census), being the second most populous city in Spain and is also known as the Ciudad Condal (County City).

It’s territrory is divided into 10 districts and 73 neighborhoods.

barrios barcelona

Ciutat Vella (district I)

It is where the historic center of Barcelona is located. Formed by four neighbourhoods: the Gòtic (where the city was founded and we find its first Roman and Visigothic remains and monuments such as the Cathedral, the Palacio Real Mayor…); to the east, the neighborhoods of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and La Ribera, located outside the first wall, are an extension of the city in medieval times and in them we find palaces, the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar and El Born; the Raval located to the west, outside the wall, followed the layout of the Rambla (formed from the rural roads outside the city walls and where the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century took place); and to the south, Barceloneta, a maritime neighborhood built in the 18th century to accommodate the population expelled by the construction of the Ciutadella.

Until the mid-nineteenth century, Barcelona lived enclosed within walls, which were demolished in 1854 and of which there are some remains that we can find in this district. Perhaps the best preserved are in the Vía Layetana and in the Portal de Santa Madrona, in the Drassanes (medieval shipyards).

In this district we will find remains of Barcino, the Roman city, of the Barchinona of the Middle Ages and we will immerse ourselves in the current Barcelona of the 21st century, welcoming, gastronomic, cosmopolitan and multicultural.

This is the neighborhood that you cannot miss if you come to visit Barcelona. Here you can find the Ramblas, the MACBA, the Boqueria market, the Lliceu, the Statue of Columbus, the Drassanes, the Barcelona Cathedral, the MUHBA, the Palacio Real Mayor, the Basilica of Santa María del Mar, the Picasso Museum , the Generalitat de Catalunya and Barcelona City Council, Sant Felip Neri, Plaça Reial, the Zoo, Ciutadella Park, the Catalan History Museum, Barceloneta Beach and the Olympic Port.

L’Eixample (district II)

This District was born in 1850 when the government of Madrid allowed to demolish and build outside the walls of Barcelona. This expansion of the city will connect the old city (the current Ciutat Vella), with surrounding towns (Gràcia, Sants, Sant Martí…). It is the moment in which the city expands and becomes the economic engine of Catalonia and Spain (mid-19th century).

Ildefons Cerdà, engineer and urban planner, designed a rational, modern urban planning project, an egalitarian city in which there would be no differences between neighborhoods and public services would be uniformly distributed. The current Eixample does not follow Cerdà’s original design of an open block with public gardens inside. The real estate speculation of the area modifies the original idea: the height of the buildings was allowed to be raised, the blocks where closed and the orthogonal grid design with chamfered corners are key characteristics of the Eixample that appears today.

Modernism will be the predominant style, the bourgeois will compete in the construction of their homes as a sign of their social, economic and cultural position. They will hire the best architects such as Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner or Puig i Cadafalch, among others.

Be sure to walk along Passeig de Gràcia and admire the best Catalan architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries: La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, Casa Ametller… On Passeig de Gràcia or Rambla Catalunya you will find the best local fashion stores and international, numerous cafes and bars, restaurants… It is worth going up to its terraces and enjoying its views.

The Eixample is made up of six neighbourhoods: the Right of the Eixample, the Old Left and the New Left of the Eixample, the Fort Pienc, the Sagrada Família and Sant Antoni. In them we can find from neoclassical buildings to others of modernist style, or the most visited monument: Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí.

Sants-Montjuïc (district III)

Located to the south, it is the largest district in the city (2,090ha) with eight neighbourhoods: Poble-sec, Hostalfrancs, La Bordeta, Font de la Guatlla, Marina de Port, Marina del Prat Vermell, Sants and Sants -Badal. They are the neighborhoods that surround the Montjuïc mountain and that were towns on the outskirts of Barcelona that became part of the city at the beginning of the 20th century.

Two large arteries cross it: Avinguda Paral.lel, whose route coincides with the terrestrial parallel 41º 22′ 33 and where theaters, cabarets and different performance halls were located in the 20th century that continue with this activity today; and the Ronda del Litoral, which follows the path of the sea and connects with the most industrial part of the district.

From many points in Barcelona you can see the Montjuïc mountain (Monte Judío in Catalan), named after the land bought by the Sephardic community, who lived in the city in the Middle Ages, to bury their deceased. Stone was extracted from it for many of the buildings that we can visit, from the Roman city of Barcino to the medieval basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. We can also visit Montjuïc Castle and enjoy good views of the city, the port and the coast.

In 1929 it hosted the International Exhibition, building the Palau Nacional (headquarters of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya), the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, the Museu Arqueològic de Catalunya, the Poble Español, the Plaza España and the Magic Fountain.

In 1992, with the celebration of the XXV Olympic Games and the redevelopment of the city, the Olympic Stadium was rehabilitated and the Olympic Ring was built, which houses buildings such as the Palau Sant Jordi (by Arata Isozaki) or the Communications Tower (by Santiago Calatrave).

Other cultural spaces that we find are the CaixaForum and the Fundació Miró (by Josep Lluís Sert) as well as various gardens.

Les Corts (district IV)

It is an old rural municipality that was annexed to Barcelona in the last third of the 19th century. Its neighborhoods are: Les Corts, Pedralbes and La Maternitat & Sant Ramón

It combines buildings from different periods: from medieval ages, also from  the 18th and 19th centuries and lastly  contemporary architecture. This last style reminds us of its industrial past, today you can find several factories that have been set up as cultural spaces.

It is currently a residential area that houses the FC Barcelona stadium, the Camp Nou, built in 1957. In the Pedralbes neighborhood you can visit the Palau Reial, the former residence of the kings of Spain when they visited Barcelona, the Güell Pavilions (the work of Antoni Gaudí) and the Gothic monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes, founded in the 14th century, its cloister (the largest of its kind in Europe), as well as the frescoes in the chapel of San Miquel by Ferrer Bassa.

Sarrià- Sant Gervasi (district V)

It is a district located between Diagonal and Collserola Park (the city’s green lung) made up of the neighborhoods of Sarrià, Tres Torres, Sant Gervasi-la Bonanova, Sant Gervasi-Galvany, Vallvidrera, Tibidabo i les Planes and El Putxet i el Farro. These neighborhoods have been annexed to Barcelona during the 19th and 20th centuries, going from being rural municipalities to a well-off residential area with areas that maintain the structure of a town with low houses, others with residential buildings, private educational and health centers and green areas such as the Parc de l’Oreneta. We can find modernist towers such as El Bellesguard and its viaduct (by A. Gaudí), the mansions on Avenida Tibidabo and reaching the top of Tibidabo with the Blue Tram (Tranvía Blau) (currently under repair), and the modernist building that houses the CosmoCaixa (Museum of the science).

At the top is the Tibidabo mountain, with the Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Heart (historicist style) and the Amusement Park, opened in 1899, still active with modern and period attractions. Next to the park, a 289 m communications tower was built in 1992. high, the Collserola Tower (by Norman Foster). This district continues through Vallvidriera and the Collserola Park.

Es un distrito situado entre la Diagonal y el parque de Collserola (pulmón verde de la ciudad) compuesto por los barrios de Sarrià, las Tres Torres, Sant Gervasi-la Bonanova, Sant Gervasi-Galvany, Vallvidrera, el Tibidabo i les Planes y el Putxet i el Farró. Estos barrios se han ido anexionando a Barcelona durante los siglos XIX y XX, pasando de ser municipios rurales a una zona residencial de clase acomodada con zonas que mantienen la estructura de pueblo con casas bajas, otras con edificios residenciales, centros educativos y sanitarios privados y zonas verdes como el Parc de l’Oreneta. Podemos encontrar torres modernistas como El Bellesguard y su viaducto (de A.Gaudí), las mansiones de la Avenida Tibidabo y llegar a la cima del Tibidabo con el Tranvía Blau ( actualmente en reparación), y el edificio modernista que acoge el CosmoCaixa (Museo de la Ciencia).

En la parte superior esta la montaña del Tibidabo, con el Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón (de estilo historicista) y el Parque de Atracciones, inaugurado en 1899, todavía activo con atracciones modernas y de la época. Junto al parque, se levantó en 1992 una torre de comunicaciones de 289 m. de altura, la Torre de Collserola (de Norman Foster). Este distrito continúa por Vallvidriera y el Parque de Collserola.

Gracia (district VI)

The origin of the old Vila de Gràcia can be found in the 16th and 17th centuries in small isolated farmhouses, which were expanded around convents in the area during the industrialization of the city. Its neighborhoods are: Vila de Gràcia, Camp d’en Grassot i Gràcia Nova, la Salut, el Coll and Vallcarca i els Penitents.

Until the end of the 19th century it was an independent city from Barcelona to which it was integrated when it was allowed to build outside walls and the Eixample area was urbanized, remaining connected through Passeig de Gràcia.

It is a neighborhood that preserves small streets, numerous squares, among them that of Vila de Gràcia with the Town Hall and the Clock Tower, two markets (Abacería Central and Llibertat) and modernist houses such as Casa Fuster or Casa Vicens by A. Gaudí (Unesco World Heritage). It houses terraces, multicultural restaurants, leisure establishments, traditional shops that coexist with fashion from young designers, crafts… We also find cultural, civic and artistic spaces, being an area of ​​great activity. If you are in mid-August you cannot miss its popular festival, when its streets are decorated for a whole week.

To the north of the district is an essential visit to Parc Güell, a garden city commissioned by Eusebi Güell to Antoni Gaudí (UNESCO World Heritage).

Horta- Guinardó (district VII)

The district is made up of eleven neighborhoods that are very different from each other: El Guinardó, Baix Guinardó, Can Baró, Font d’en Fargues, Carmel, Teixonera, Clota, Horta, Vall d’Hebrón, Montbau and Sant Genís dels. Agudells. Originally they were independent municipalities that were annexed to Barcelona in the 20th century. Although it retains farmhouses, some of medieval origin and others modernist, some neighborhoods such as Carmel had slums in their beginnings, which were gradually replaced by blocks of flats without following any urban design.

District injured by its relief, it is the third largest in the city. It alternates residential areas of single-family houses with blocks of flats in working-class areas. Green spaces abound, such as the Labyrinth Park or Joan Brossa Park, with works such as Els Mistos (The matches) by Claes Oldemburg or Joan Brossa’s visual poem, and some of the best views of the city if you go up to the Carmel bunkers, from where you can access the Parc Güell, whose northern part also belongs to this district.

We also recommend you visit the Modernist Enclosure of the Hospital de Sant Pau (by Lluís Domènech i Montaner).

Nou Barris (distrito VIII)

It is the northernmost district of Barcelona, which between 1950 and 1960 welcomed a large part of the working-class immigration that came to the city from all over Spain. Made up of 13 neighbourhoods: Ciutat Meridiana, Trinitat nova, Torre Baró and Vallbona have their urban structures very marked by the mountainous orography and large artificial barriers, such as highways and train tracks; in others, more population accumulates, such as in Prosperitat, Porta, Guineueta, Turó de la Peira, Roquetes, Verdún, Vilapiscina, Canyelles and Can Peguera. The latter housed the workers who lived in the shacks of Montjuic in houses popularly called cheap houses.

It has numerous parks such as the Parc de la Guineueta, the Parc del Turó de la Peira or the modern Parc Central of Nou Barris. At the Mirador of Torre Baró you can also enjoy good views of the city’s skyline.

Sant Andreu (district IX)

It is one of the access points to enter Barcelona by car from the east. It is a district of agricultural origin that became industrial and commercial throughout the last century. Its neighborhoods are: Baró de Viver, Bon Pastor, el Congrés i els Indians, la Sagrera, Trinitat Vella, Navas and Sant Andreu del Palomar, which gave rise to this district from some farmhouses that surrounded the parish church of the same name ( reformed in the 19th century).

It is a district that still breathes the atmosphere of a small town, although it is undergoing a complete transformation due to the laying of the high-speed train tracks and will house the Sagrera station, one of its two stops in the city.

The old industry houses now host cultural spaces such as the old Fabra & Coats factory, parks such as La Pegaso or a commercial shopping mall such as La Maquinista. We can also find the Bac de Roda bridge by the engineer-architect Santiago Calatrava, the Rationalist-style Casa Bloc, the first major Spanish project for working-class housing and where two hundred private duplex rooms are combined with common landscaped spaces by the GATCPAC (Group of Architects and Catalan Technicians for the Progress of Contemporary Architecture).

Sant Martí (district X)

District made up of 10 neighbourhoods, extending from the end of Ciutat Vella and Eixample to the Besós River: el Clot, Camp de l’Arpa, la Verneda, la Pau, Sant Martí de Provençals, Poblenou, Provençals, the Park & the Llacuna of Poblenou, the Vila Olímpica and Diagonal Mar.

When the XXV Olympic Games held in Barcelona in 1992, It became an important period of transformation for the city, especially affecting this district of Sant Martí. Poblenou was initially an industrial area with factories, warehouses and industrial buildings that were demolished and was urbanized with homes, green areas, facilities and a new technology area called 22@. In this area we can find design buildings such as the Agbar Tower (by Ateliers Jean Nouvel), the Disseny Hub building (by MBM architects), the Marenostrum Tower (by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue) or the MediaTIC building. These buildings, which are part of the new architecture of the city, alternate with chimneys and old factories converted into cultural facilities such as Can Framis (Vila Casas Foundation).

Barcelona took advantage of this redevelopment to definitively open up to the sea, recover its beaches, create new spaces such as the Vila Olímpica or the Fórum and promenades that run along its sea front and link it with other districts or cities such as Badalona, ​​from where you can see the new city ​​skyline.



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