A little over a century ago, Gràcia was a small town on the outskirts of Barcelona. It was only incorporated into the Catalan capital in 1897 and yet these days it has become one of the city’s most emblematic neighbourhoods thanks to its traditions, squares, streets lined with bars, restaurants and shops, its hidden charms, not to mention century-old arts societies including theatre groups, dance groups and choirs, among other things.
The neighbourhood has also been, for some years now, the preferred choice of many young people when deciding to set up home. From its past as a place of narrow streets and run-down apartments, Gràcia has seen numerous public spaces opened up and lots of its buildings renovated to make it an altogether much more pleasant environment in which to live. The neighbourhood’s main shopping streets are Carrer Verdi, Torrent de l’Olla, Gran de Gràcia and Travessera de Gràcia, and along its borders lie Via Augusta and Princep d’Asturies to the south, Passeig de Sant Joan and Carrer Escorial to the north, Plaça Lesseps and Travessera de Dalt to the west and Av. Diagonal and Carrer Còrsega to the east. Moving about the neighbourhood by car, and above all finding a parking space, is complicated to say the least. It is a far better option to use public transport wherever possible or to just leave the car in an underground car park.
Squares and Sunny Spaces
Over 15 squares were created when Gràcia was incorporated into the city of Barcelona. They are well- designed public spaces that provide a place for the neighbourhood’s residents to gather. They are also the starting point for local festivities and a nice place to relax with a beer and a bite to eat. They can be found all over the neighbourhood and are often emblematic places, such as the Plaça Rius i Taulet 1 , which houses a magnificent bell-tower, and is where the district’s town hall is located. The Plaça del Sol 2 is probably the most popular with its numerous bars and the plaças Raspall 3 and del Poble Romaní are gathering places for the neighbourhood’s gypsy population. The church of Sant Joan presides over the Plaça de la Virreina 4 ; the nearby Carrer Verdi with its original language cinemas is one of the busiest in the area. The long list is completed by the plaças de la Revolució 5 , del Nord 6, Rovira i Trias 7 and Diamant 8 , this last being home to the Colometa statue, reminiscent of a hero from the works of author Mercé Rodoreda.
Metro: L3 Diagonal, Fontana or Lesseps
L4 Joanic or Verdaguer
Bus: 15, 20, 22, 23, 24. 39, 45, 47 and 55.
Barcelona Bus Turístic: Gràcia.
Markets with Flavour
Two old markets continue to bring together the atmosphere of the old town; they are the Abaceria 9 and the Llibertat 10 markets.
Abaceria Central de la villa de Gràcia
The first, the Abaceria Central de la villa de Gràcia market, was inaugurated in 1892 when the industrialist Puigmartí ordered its construction for farmers who had been until then selling their wares in the neighbouring Plaça de la Revolució. Like many of Barcelona’s market it consists of a cast-iron structure of three naves, the central one being the widest. The last renovation was in 1997.
Abaceria Central de la villa de Gràcia
Address: Travessera de Gràcia, 186
Phone: 932 136 286.
Metro: L4 Joanic
Opening Hours: From Monday to Thursday, from 7:00 to 14:30 and from 17:30 to 20:30.
Fridays, from 7:00 to 15:00 and from 17:00 to 20:30.
Saturdays, from 7:00 to 15:00 and from 17:00 to 20:00
Mercat de la Llibertat
The Llibertat market was founded in 1888 on the site of the old Plaça de la Constitució. The building today, last renovated a few years ago, retains to a large degree the modernist style of the era in which it was constructed. Underneath its large steel structure are numerous stalls selling fruit and vegetables, fish, jams, prepared meals, clothes, books and flowers etc.
Mercat de la Llibertat
Address: Pl. Llibertat, 27
Phone: 932 170 995.
Bus: 16, 17, 22, 24, 27, 28, 31, 32 y 92.
Opening Hours: Mondays, from 7:00 to 14:00.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 7:00 to 14:00 and from 17:00 to 20:00.
Fridays, from 7:00 to 20:00.
Saturdays, from 7:00 to 15:00.
Underground car park.
Jardinets de Gràcia
When walking to Gràcia from Passeig de Gràcia first we must cross the gardens named after the great Catalan poet Salvador Espriu but more commonly known as the Jardinets de Gràcia 11
These form the base of the Carrer Gran de Gràcia. Overlooking these is Casa Fuster 12, built in the modernist style by Lluís Domènech i Montaner L’Estel Ferit between 1908 and 1911. The façade incorporates materials such as white marble, slate and decorative windows that would have been highly expensive at the time, besides ornamented columns, statues and floral decoration. The house was a present from the Mallorcan landowner Mariano Fuster to his wife Consol Fabra and was for years the headquarters of a major hydro-electricity company. These days it has been converted into a luxurious 5-star hotel where Woody Allen is known to show up with his clarinet to take part in weekly jazz concerts held every Thursday in the hotel’s Café Vienés.
Passeig de Gràcia, 132.
Metro: (L3) (L5) Diagonal.
Bus: 22, 24 i 28.
Gaudí also wanted to leave his mark on the Gràcia neighbourhood. Casa Vicens 13 was designed by a young Antoni Gaudí in 1888. It is no accident that the building’s façade is covered in a multi-coloured array of tiles; the man who had it built, Manuel Vicens Montaner, was a tile manufacturer. Gaudí designed the mould of the tiles using the plants that grew the garden as inspiration. In the design one can also see traces of Mudejar style, as well as shapes inspired by Japanese and Hindu forms. Nowadays it is a private building closed to visitors.
Metro: (L3) Fontana.
Bus: 22, 24, 27, 28, 31, 32, 87 y 92. www.bcn.es/gaudi2002/english/index.htm
The Gaudi’s Work
Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by the four passions of his life: architecture, nature, religion and his love for Catalonia. Gaudí meticulously studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts, in which he himself was skilled, such as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of the materials, such as his famous trencadís, made of waste ceramic pieces. Gaudí became part of the Catalan Modernista movement which was then at its peak, towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.
In Jardinets de Gràcia started the street of Gran de Gràcia 14 is a part of the main central area of the city, which, perpendicular to the sea, connects the port and its nearby neighbourhoods to those by the Collserola mountain range. Not a new commercial area, as it was the main street and the area with the most shops in the old town of Gràcia back in the day. Nowadays it still is the most important commercial area of this part of Barcelona.
Gran de Gràcia, 73
932 170 100
Opening Hours: From 9:00 to 14:00 and from16:30 to 22:30.