Barcelona has a population of about 1.7 million people. It’s one of the world’s major tourist, economic, and cultural centers with an influence in commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, and the arts. The city is made up of ten districts that each have a unique atmosphere and cultural value. Here’s an overview of the ten districts of Barcelona and what each neighborhood has to offer.
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Ciutat Vella, or “old city” in Catalan, is the center of the city that connects the heart of Barcelona with the Mediterranean. Plaça de Catalunya is where some of the city’s most important streets and avenues meet in one place at the top of La Rambla.
Also within the old city are the neighborhoods of Raval, Barri Gòtic, Born, and Barceloneta. Raval has been converted into a trendy area with bars, restaurants, and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. Barri Gòtic is the home of Barcelona Cathedral and some of the oldest archtecture in the city. Barceloneta is Barcelona’s border to the sea with beautiful beaches and Port Olímpic, a major sight for yachts and cruise ships. Other attractions include the Maritime Museum, Filmoteca de Catalunya, the Picasso Museum in the Born neighborhood, and the Catalan Parliament.
Eixample, or “the extension,” is noted for its long, straight streets and grid pattern of wide avenues and square blocks. Here, you’ll find most of the work by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí displayed throughout the neighborhood. Buildings such as Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, and, the most famous of all, the Sagrada Familia are all located within this district.
Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona’s most expensive street full of designer shops, is located mainly here. Eixample also includes the neighborhoods of Sant Antoni and Esquerra de l’Eixample.
Sants-Montjüic is known for both the Sants train station and Montjüic Mountain. Montjüic, meaning “Jewish mountain,” is the famous hill that overlooks the city of Barcelona and has hosted global events in the past.
The Montjuïc Castle (circa 1640) remains standing today atop the hill. Also located on the hillside is the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, the centerpiece of the 1992 Olympic Games that took place in the city. Montjüic is home to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Montjuïc Cemetery, Fundació Joan Miró, and the stunning Magic Fountain of Montjuïc.
Les Corts is the least populated district in the city with only 83,000 residents living there. However, it’s also famous for Camp Nou, the football stadium that’s home the world-famous FC Barcelona located in the neighborhood of La Maternitat i Sant Ramon. This site, an important location for football lovers, has also served as a symbolic representation of Catalan nationalism. Also located in Les Corts is the well-known French school, Lycée Français de Barcelone, as well as the 14th-century Monastery of Pedralbes.
One of the biggest districts in the city is formed by the old villages of Sarrià, Vallvidrera, Santa Creu d’Olorda, and Sant Gervasi de Cassoles. Sarrià has a village feel with its narrow streets and small houses, making it seem more rural than urban. Jardins del Turó del Putget is in the hill neighborhood of El Putget i Farró, which is also known for the two main squares of Plaça de Lesseps and Plaça Molina, making it a center for business in the city. The main market there is the Mercat de Sarrià on Passeig Reina Elisenda which has been in business since 1900. Les Tres Torres is a major residential neighborhood and Sant Gervasi – Galvany is home to the Galvany market.
This neighborhood is both culturally and artistically distinct from the rest of the city of Barcelona. Here you’ll find major attractions like Parc Güell, Casa Fuster, and the Biblioteca Jaume Fuster. The Festa Major de Gràcia has been around for 200 years and is Barcelona’s largest neighborhood festival. In addition, Gracia does not have international brands or fast-food chains. Instead, you’ll find a diverse homemade production of food in line with the area’s bohemian atmosphere. Its neighborhoods include Vila de Gràcia, El Coll, and El Camp d’en Grassot i Gràcia Nova.
Covering 12% of the entire size of Barcelona, this district did not urbanize until the economic boom of the 1950s and 60s. It’s one of the least populated districts in Barcelona. Vall d’Hebron briefly had international attention hosting archery, volleyball, tennis, and cycling during the 1992 Olympics.
Parc del Laberint d’Horta is another notable sight in the area, a garden and maze from the 18th century that is home to the Desvalls Palace.
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Nou Barris, or “nine neighborhoods,” although it has fourteen within it, has been making a slow rebound in population with a large number of Romani people and new immigrants settling in. As Barcelona’s northernmost district, it was isolated in the years before the Civil War before being urbanized during the 50s and 60s. Nou Barris is known to be one of quieter places in Barcelona with places such as Plaça De Ca N’Enseya, Turó de la Peira, and Francesc Pi i Margall in Plaça Llucmajor being the big must-see sights.
This district’s name comes from the surviving parish church of Sant Andreu del Palomar, which is over a thousand years old. La Sagrera, Bon Pastor, and El Congrés i els Indians are among the neighborhoods located in Sant Andreu. The Plaça del Mercadal is the perfect setting for the Sant Andreu Market in business since 1850. The Parc de La Pegaso and the Parc de La Maquinista are fresh park renewals built on the sites of factories. The Casa Bloc is an interesting sight as the first example of a social housing for workers in Spain, which was later listed as a landmark. Apartment 1/11 is now a small museum about this form of architecture and what life was like in the past. Finally, there is the Bac de Roda Bridge which is the connection between Sant Andreu and the final district.
The easternmost district in Barcelona, Sant Marti, is the second most populated district. It’s also one of the most popular places for tourists with La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou, which hosted all of the athletes for the 1992 Olympic Games. Sights in the district include the Golden Fish statue and some of the most popular beaches in Barcelona. The Poblenou neighborhood, which was also redeveloped for the Olympics, sits between the stunning beaches and various shopping centers, bars, and restaurants.