El born district
Are you going to spend some days in Barcelona? For sure you are planning to visit Gaudí’s masterpieces, for example the Sagrada Familia or the Park Güell. Though, why don’t you start your tour from an unusual place?
If you are passionate about odd places that make you feel like living in the past, with old inns and traditional shops like artisans’ workshops, well El Born district is the perfect place for you!
Walking through its alleys it will be like going back in time.
Formerly known as La Ribera, El Born district was a place mainly frequented by artisans, fishermen, merchants, travellers and artists. Traditionally a place where people used to take part in popular celebrations, religious processions and ancient medieval jousts –born etymologically means tourney- it is now the artistic and irreverent district par excellence.
After 700 years you can still appreciate El Born’s medieval peculiarities, actually the combination of both gothic and modern architecture is part of its mystique! Nowadays it is one of the most artistic neighbourhoods and a labyrinth of alleys with bars, little shops and squares, alive from day to night.
El Born together with the Gothic district, the Raval and the Barceloneta form the Ciutat Vella, literally the old city.
How to get there
It is quite simple to get to El Born district : by underground you can get off at Urquonaona, Jaume I or Barceloneta stops –yellow line L4- or at Arc de Triomf stop –red Line L1-.
Otherwise you can choose to get there walking down the famous Rambla –it will be a quite long stroll but it will be worthy of it!-.
What to see
Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar
Built between 1329 and 1383, it is an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic architecture, with a pure and linear style unusual in large medieval buildings. Due to its location near the port and the trading area the Basilica is traditionally considered the sailors’ church. The massive external structure doesn’t reveal anything about its austere interiors. The acoustics is so perfect that sometimes you can even find some live jazz concerts.
Mercat Santa Caterina
The name comes from the old Convent of Santa Caterina on which site the market was built. Enduring since 1848 it was the first covered market of Barcelona. The wavy rooftop will be the first thing to draw your attention! It is attached to the building through a wooden structure and consists in thousands of coloured tiles symbolizing the different products you can find in this traditional market, that is to say fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, pastries, bread and everything you could ever need. Moreover you can find tapas bar, a restaurant, a supermarket and a small museum that shows the history of the same market and some ruins found during the restoration of the building. Don’t miss the chance to take a break right here!
It hosts one of the largest collections of Picasso’s works and it is one of the most visited and famous museums in the city. It is made of 5 medieval buildings and the permanent collection you can appreciate there, includes a great amount from Picasso’s young art works.
Parc de la Ciutadella
The only green space in Barcelona for decades, it includes 70-acres ground, the zoo, the Palau del Parliament de Catalunya, a small lake, museums and a large fountain. Built in 1714, the Ciutadella was the largest fortress in Europe created to control people during the War of Spanish Succession and prevent them from rebelling. The chapel, the Governor’s palace and the arsenal still remain with the rest of the site now turned into this famous park.
Palau de la Música Catalana
Built between 1905 and 1908, it is a concert hall in Barcelona designed in the Catalan modernist style. It was created for the Orfeó Catalá, a choral society with a strong influence in the Catalan cultural movement known with the name Renaixença. In 1997 the Palau de la Música was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As soon as the sun goes down, the city start to be enlightened by the signs, and the whole city get started to party. If you don’t know which place to choose to spend your night, use the ping-pong technique : bounce from one to another!