Gràcia (82)

At the start of the nineteenth century, Barcelona was still enclosed within its walls. Beyond the walled city stretched what was called the “Pla”, or Plain, of Barcelona, an area with only a few small villages around monasteries, churches, hospitals and some great holiday house of the Catalan nobility or haute bourgeoisie.

It was during Barcelona’s industrial expansion that many country people decided to look for work in the city. The housing shortage and widespread epidemics caused the wall that finished in the Plaça Catalunya to be finally knocked down in 1852, which led to these isolated settlements beginning to be annexed little by little by the city of Barcelona.

Among them was what is currently the quarter of Gràcia. On looking at the map of the city, it is easy to imagine the age of its narrow, winding streets and to distinguish the limits of the former Vila de Gràcia from the characteristic grid format of the Eixample.

From its agricultural and stock-raising past with just a few big houses, to today’s dense, residential and leisure network, Gràcia has known how to maintain the characteristics that make it so special. What are these? Its traditional festivals, its diversity, its alternative art galleries, its varied bars and restaurants... You have to stroll through its pedestrian streets and let yourself be seduced by the essence of this neighbourhood that continues to function as a village within a great city.

Currently, we can find in Gràcia great architectural jewels of modernism, such as the Casa Fuster in Gran de Gràcia by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the Casa Ramos in the Plaça Lesseps by the architect Jaume Torres, where Almodóvar shot some of his picture All about my mother and the Casa Vicens in the Carrer Carolines, designed by a young Antoni Gaudí.

Even so, Gràcia’s true claim to fame is its enormous range of leisure and cultural activities. In its diverse squares, such as the Plaça del Sol, Plaça de la Virreina, Plaça del Diamant and the Plaça Rius i Taulet, you will find a huge concentration of bars and restaurants with terraces that will let you enjoy Barcelona’s climate, among many other things.

Don’t miss a stroll up Gran de Gràcia, Carrer Verdi or Carrer Torrijos, where you will find restaurants of well-known chefs, fashion designers’ workshops, ethnic minority businesses and a long etcetera that is sure to surprise you.

And if your stay coincides with its Main Festival in mid-August, you will be able to enjoy a Gràcia with streets decorated by their residents’ associations and live a genuine festival and neighbourhood atmosphere.

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