If you want to explore Barcelona off of the beaten path and get a true sense of a traditional Catalan neighborhood, I encourage you to pay a visit to the Sant Andreu district.
Arriving at Sant Andreu, you will immediately notice the authenticity of this district. Catalan independence flags hanging from terraces, groups of old men playing dominoes at tables in the terrazas of bars, and people chatting in the streets with their neighbors.
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Carrer Gran de Sant Andreu
Though it isn’t the biggest street in Sant Andreu, it is an important one as it lies in the heart of the district. Carrer Gran is a bustling street filled with mostly pedestrians and some traffic, with people flocking to the various shops, bars, restaurants, and public services.
Pick up some freshly-baked bread at an authentic Catalan bakery, window shop, or have a cerveza in one of the various sunny terraces. If you want to stop for a beer and a tapa, try going to Versalles, which has been in business since 1915. The original decoration has been preserved, which makes you feel like you are stepping back in time.
Right off of Carrer Gran is the district’s largest public library, Can Fabra. This beautiful library is located in a nice plaza which is often used for free cultural events.
Sant Andreu de Palomar
A few minutes walking from Carrer Gran you will find the church of Sant Andreu de Palomar, located in Plaça d’Orfila. Built in Romanesque style during the 10th century, the church was dedicated to the beloved Saint Andrew.
Throughtout the centuries, a community was formed, with a number of houses being built around the church. This is why the district was named Sant Andreu.
The church also holds an important place in the history of Barcelona as it was the site of one of the main events of the War of the Reapers, an attempt by Catalonia to separate from the Spanish crown.
Go inside and take a peek at this beautiful building, which was renovated in 1881 and transformed into a neo-Gothic-style cathedral. The bright frescoes that line the walls are both impressive and inspiring.
Parc de la Pegaso
Stop and take in the scenery in this large an gorgeous park. Located off Avinguda Meridiana in the neighborhood of La Sagrera, Parc de la Pegaso has something to offer people of all ages. Children can enjoy the playground or the basketball courts while adults can go for a nice walk or run and even bring their four-legged friends along.
There are a series of small ponds and fountains for aesthetic appeal and an added sense of tranquility. The park is especially beautiful in the spring with the trees bursting with purple blooms and the plants starting to sprout up.
Off of Carrer Gran you will find the Plaça Mercadal, the site of the Mercat de Sant Andreu, surrounded on four sides by beautiful porticoes with small shops and bakeries tucked underneath. Venturing into the market itself your senses will be overwhelmed as you hear vendors calling out their produce, see the bright fruits and vegetables, and smell a variety of foods and spices. You can buy almost everything here, from traditional Spanish meats and cheeses to fish and meats. Stop in for a one-of-a-kind sensory shopping experience!