Page 1

SLOW BARCELONA

BARCELONA A RELAXED JOURNEY AROUND THE CITY IN 23 ROUTES

ISBN 978-84-9850-411-8

9 788498 504118

ISABEL DE VILLALONGA PHOTOGRAPHY: JORDI PLAY


SLOW

BARCELONA ISABEL DE VILLALONGA PHOTOGRAPHY: JORDI PLAY


Published by: Ajuntament de Barcelona Editorial and Publishing Council of the City of Barcelona: Jaume Ciurana i Llevadot, Jordi Martí i Galbis, Jordi Joly i Lena, Vicente Guallart i Furió, Àngel Miret i Serra, Marta Clari i Padrós, Miquel Guiot i Rocamora, Marc Puig i Guàrdia, Josep Lluís Alay i Rodríguez, José Pérez i Freijo, Pilar Roca i Viola. Communication and Citizen Service Director: Marc Puig Imaging and Editorial Services Director: José Pérez Freijo Editor in Chief: Oriol Guiu Original idea and editorial production: Ara Idees – Ara Llibres, sccl www.arallibres.cat Translation into English: Alan Moore Author: Isabel de Villalonga Graphic design: Julia von Fraunberg Layout: Cristina Serrano Photography: Jordi Play Edited and printed by: Direcció d’Imatge i Serveis Editorials Municipals Passeig de la Zona Franca, 66 08038 Barcelona Tel. 93 402 31 31 www.bcn.cat/publicacions © this edition: Ajuntament de Barcelona © text: Isabel Villalonga © photography: Jordi Play ISBN: 978-84-9850-411-8 Legal Deposit: B-30.716-2012 Printed on ecological paper


PRESENTATION

Slow Barcelona Barcelona has the ability to combine the dynamism and activity of a global metropolis with the more human scale and lifestyles found in our neighbourhoods. As Mayor of Barcelona, this is what I like most about our city, and I am sure that it is also one of the features that surprises most tourists. The fact that Barcelona, unlike many other large cities, has preserved its Mediterranean character, which turns the simple fact of walking down the street, sitting on a bench in any of our squares, or enjoying nature and silence in our parks turn into an absolute pleasure. The twenty-three routes that are described in this guide -suggested by the author, Isabel Villalonga- will be very useful to those visitors who wish to discover Barcelona and to get a real feeling about the city. Alternative perspectives are described along with interesting sights, landscapes and experiences that will fascinate the reader. The text is illustrated by Jordi Play's photographs, which, which graphically transmit the “Barcelona Slow” rhythm suggested in the title of this guidebook. No matter whether you prefer walking, going by bike or getting about by public transport, I encourage you to take note of their suggestions. Let this “slow” spirit become your state of mind while you discover the city.

Xavier Trias M ayo r o f B a r c e l o n a

3


INTRODUCTION

An unhurried journey I have to admit it: I have a soft spot for Barcelona. I can’t talk about the city objectively, and even though I know things could be better, my natural tendency is to forgive all its shortcomings and just love its good side. It was precise­ly because my perceptions of Barcelona are, I believe, based on intangibles, on emotions, feelings and sensations, that I was so pleased to be asked to describe “slow” Barcelona. This invitation allowed me to delve deeply into that other Barcelona, the one that routine and hurry all too often prevent us from seeing, the secret city that lies behind the noisy traffic and all the effects of globalisation. This hidden city is the Barcelona of friendship and hospitality, of ecological awareness, of culture, of arts and crafts, of good, simple, healthy food and drink… The book you now hold in your hands, ‘Slow’ Barcelona, invites you on a relaxed journey around the city in 23 routes that suggest a different way of approaching urban space and time. On these walking tours, rendering homage to the slow way of life, we are gently guided around secluded little squares, parks free from air and noise pollution, local cafés that are perfect for a quiet chat, pedestrian areas with all the air of ancient villages, local culture… In short, a host of peaceful nooks and crannies, veritable havens, where we can enjoy, in complete calm, a new city that will fill our empty hours with life and joy.

Isabel de Villalonga

5


CONTENTS

Peace and nature 1. The sea front, from Colom to the River Besòs 2. The city heights: Vallvidrera & Collserola 3. Enjoying the sun in the city’s parks 4. A green route to discover Montjuïc

8 10 22 34 44

...................................................................... ................

.......................

..................................

....................................

The hidden city

54 56 68

........................................................................

5. The Rambla at dawn 6. Squares in the Gothic Quarter 7. Secrets, courtyards, gardens & passages in the Eixample 8. A tram ride: Sant Gervasi & the city heights

................................................................ ...........................................

................................................................................. ...................

routes to savour

100 102 114 126 136

..................................................................

9. Tapas in Barceloneta 10. The aromas of the market: Santa Caterina 11. La Ribera for gourmets 12. Breakfast in Sant Andreu

80 90

..............................................................

..................

.........................................................

.....................................................

In search of silence

...........................................................

13. Peaceful landscapes in Pedralbes 14. Poblenou cemetery 15. Nature in Vall d’Hebron

....................................

................................................................

146 148 160 172

........................................................

culture and crafts

..............................................................

16. Cultural activities in El Raval 17. Crafts in Gràcia 18. Poblenou reinvents itself 19. Literary Sarrià

...........................................

........................................................................ .....................................................

........................................................................

Village life

.................................................................................

20. Les Corts: the old centre 21. The soul of La Sagrera 22. Unknown Horta 23. Parks and nooks in Nou Barris

184 186 198 210 220

230 232 244 254 264

....................................................

.........................................................

.................................................................... ......................................

7


8 Barcelona SIn PrISaS


Peace and nature 1. The sea front, from Colom to the River Besòs 2. The city heights: vallvidrera & Collserola 3. enjoying the sun in the city’s parks 4. a green route to discover Montjuïc

Peace and nature 9


10 Barcelona SIN PRISAS


route 1 by bike

1. the sea front, from colom to the river Besòs starting point

one of the great pleasures that a mediterranean Portal de la Pau Metro: L3 city like ours offers, with its mild climate and the Bus: 14, 36, 57, 64, 120 & 157 nearby coast, is the chance to cycle beside the sea. And you needn’t wait until summer; those warm winter days when the sun is in the sky, sharing its gentle warmth, are also perfect for enjoying the seaside. In Barcelona, we can escape from the city’s hustle and bustle whenever we want. We just have to get down to the sea front and cycle along it, from end to end, from Portal de la Pau to the River Besòs. There are so many good things about cycling beside the sea. To start with, the route, approximately nine kilometres long, is easy and runs entirely through pedestrian areas. Again, cycling is less tiring than walking, and is quicker and more efficient. Bicycles don’t generate Walking barefoot pollution, they don’t consume petrol, they are noiseless and along the beach they allow you to stop whenever and wherever you want to is a really healthy admire the landscape. Not only that, but the effort you put activity, because the sand activates into pedalling away combines with the sea air to make a all the reflexology health cocktail that is guaranteed both to get you fit and to points in the soles clear your mind. of your feet. Peace and nature 11


T h E s E A F R o N T, F R o m C o L o m T o T h E R i v E R B E s ò s

ROUTe 1

moll de la Fusta At the end of La Rambla, crossing Portal de la Pau, we begin our route along the Moll de Bosch i Alsina, better known as the Moll de la Fusta (wood dock), since this was where timber was once unloaded and stored. There are two levels, but we advise you to take the lower route, a pedestrian way along the waterfront. All along this path runs a long stone bench where we can stop and sit for a while, looking out over the water. Before us is the Maremàgnum centre, whilst behind are rows of palm trees lining the way. Here, the noise of the cars along the Ronda del Litoral ring road is just a distant murmur, and at sunset the sea becomes a veritable work of art. moll d’Espanya Reaching the end of Via Laietana, where this road meets the dock, we turn right, towards the gentle ramps that rise up the grassy slope from the Moll d’Espanya dock to Maremàgnum. On our way, we pass the replica of the Ictíneo II, the submarine that its inventor, Narcís Monturiol, tested under the port waters in 1859. From this point, we can enjoy magnificent views over the yachts moored in the Port Vell (old port), the Palau de Mar and the buildings that line Passeig de Joan de Borbó on one side and Passeig de Colom on the other. We may also like to choose one of the many leisure options here, including visits to the Imax Cinema, the Aquarium or the Maremàgnum shopping centre. However, our best bet is to continue along the lower level of Moll d’Espanya, a promenade that runs through the port, with benches looking out to sea, ideal to pause for a short rest.

A "�slow" pleasure trip If you would like to sail off on a yacht for a weekend or even a whole week, there are several companies in the 12 SloW Barcelona

Olympic Port that organise trips along the Catalan coastline lasting two or more days. This is a great way

for you and your friends to get away from the daily grind for a while. Prices range from 140 to 350 euros

per person for two days. Further information: Ronautica (tel. 932 210 380).


Palau de mar At weekends, the esplanade at the end of the Moll d’Espanya dock is usually crowded with tourists mingling amongst the stalls selling craft products and the street vendors offering their wares. Before us stands the Palau del Mar, which now houses the Museum of the History of Catalonia, as well as the offices of the Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Social Welfare and the Family. The building, a typical example of 19th-century port architecture, was constructed between 1880 and 1890 to house the old General Trade Stores. Under the arches of this splendid palace, a dozen restaurant terraces line the promenade, vying with each other to attract diners to taste their specialities. We now cycle onto the opposite side of the dock where, until the 1990s, port warehouses closed off the port. Today, these have been replaced by a pleasant promenade that skirts the dock, the mooring-place of countless pleasure craft, from millionaires’ yachts with their uniformed crews to charter boats offering trips and vessels owned by sailors –mostly foreigners– who live on-board, their clothes hanging out on the deck to dry.

Standing out from the Port Vell are the towers of the cable car, a means of transport that has connected the Barcelona coastline with Mount Montjuïc since 1929.

moll dels Pescadors Carrer Escar, closed off at the end by a chain, leads to the dock where Barcelona’s ever-smaller fishing fleet is moored. Peace and nature 13


14 Barcelona SIN PRISAS


The Hotel W, designed by Ricardo Bofill, confers a new profile on Barcelona’s beaches.

Peace and nature 15


From the barrier, we can absorb the seafaring atmosphere and watch the fishermen going about their work. Here, too, stands the Clocktower, the oldest building in the port. Built in 1715, it operated as a lighthouse until the 19th cent­ury, when it was converted into a four-faced clock to light up the night. If you get here before eight in the morning you can even sign up for a deep-sea fishing trip, even taking your bike on board with you. And, with a bit of luck, you might see tuna fish weighing up to 100 kilos caught. The trip, which takes eleven hours, from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, is unforgettable. Five pm is also the time when, surrounded by flocks of gulls, the fish­ ing boats return to port.

Food and drink facilities There are also many restaurants in this area. The Restaurant Barceloneta is a classic seafood establishment looking out over the port, but the best views are from the Torre de Altamar. This restaurant is housed at the top of the Sant Sebastià tower, which joins the port to Mount Montjuïc via the cable car. The lift journey up to the restaurant is thrilling, but there can be little doubt that it is the size of the bill that will leave the most lasting impression on the majority of diners. 16 SLOW Barcelona

At the Sal Cafè restaurant, diners can enjoy sea views as well as good food. Cyclists can ride along right by the sand at Barceloneta beach.


Barefoot on the beach Sant Sebastià beach begins at the sculpture A Room Where it Always Rains, by the artist Juan Muñoz, and ends at the new Hotel W, known as Vela, the Sail. Eighty metres high, this building was designed by the architect Bofill. Sant Sebastià beach, home of such renowned sports clubs as Esportiu Sant Sebastià and Natació Barcelona is, along with Barceloneta beach, amongst those with the longest traditions in the city. Terraces in the sun This sea front area, from Barceloneta to Nova Mar Bella beach, is where we find the most permanently-open terraces

A me al ov er lo ok in g th e se a

sal Cafè (Pg. Marítim de la Barceloneta, s/n | Tel. 932 240 707) Terrace on the beach and 60-metre restaurant front overlooking the sea, making it the perfect place for a romantic dinner.

Set lunch: 9 and 11 euros. agua (Pg. Marítim de la Barceloneta, 30 Tel. 932 251 272) & Bestial (C. Ramon Trias Fargas, 2/4 | Tel. 932 240 407) Beach terraces, courtesy of Grupo Tragaluz. At Agua,

fresh, simple fish and seafood dishes are on the menu, whilst Bestial serves up Mediterranean fare based on Italian products. Xiringuito escribà (Ronda Litoral, 42 | Tel. 932 210 729)

An informal air, a beach refreshment hut and a terrace on the beach where you can enjoy the sun and the sea air. Fantastic atmosphere, seafood and a sweet surprise at the end: the Escribàs are cake-makers. Peace and nature 17


T h e s ea fr o nt, fr o m C o l o m t o t h e R i v er B e s ò s

A LT E R N AT E r o u te

Besòs River Park A cycle lane between the river and the fields The final stretch of the River Besòs, that is, the three kilometres from the river mouth in Sant Adrià to Santa Coloma, deserves separate mention. A good way to discover this area is by bicycle, as flat, asphalted bike lanes have been established on both banks of the river park, running between the waterside and the green fields. The way this area has been reclaimed and the landscape and environment regenerated is absolutely astounding. The river has been widened and inflatable barrages installed to pacify the water, as these deflate automatically in case of heavy rain. The high-voltage power cables that once spoilt the view have now been buried underground, and bushes and reeds have been planted. The idyllic scene is completed by the birds that whirl overhead and the pebbles that adorn the riverbed. The environmental recovery of the river has also led to the return of its natural inhabitants—fish, amphibians and small mammals—as well as new bird species not found here until recently. 18 SLOW Barcelona Barcelona SIN PRISAS

The newly-created Besòs River Park is an invitation to enjoy a relaxing stroll through the grass or a pleasant cycle ride along the water’s edge.


1 1

in the whole city. Such is their power of attraction that we do not even need to enter these establishments, because the best tables are outside in the sun, overlooking the blue Mediterranean, with gas heaters on hand if necessary. At Santa Marta, with its magnificent 30-square metre terrace overlooking Sant Sebastià beach, try the Italian vermouth, the pasta and the home-made ice cream. Nearby, Can Majó (Almirall Aixada, 23) has been serving up the best rice and suquet fish casserole dishes on the beach for 40 years.

Barceloneta beach Passing Rebecca Horn’s sculpture The Wounded Star, we freewheel down the ramp for a ride beside the beach. Under the arches, senior citizens play dominoes, whilst the more daring members of the Atlètic-Barceloneta and Fundació Claror sports clubs dry themselves in the sun after the dip they take every day, whether in summer or winter. The stone loungers on the jetty are ideal for lazing on, looking out to sea and watching the veterans keeping fit at the gym area or, on windy days, young windsurfers, who come here by bus, their wetsuits and their surfboards under their arms.

Biblioplaya beach library service The services housed under the arches include the Centre de la Platja (beach centre), which provides information about activities organised throughout the year. From June to September, there is also a service that enables users to borrow books to read on the beach. The magnificent restaurant terraces which line the entire beach, some even offering sofas where we can lounge as we enjoy our meal, are transformed into discos after midnight. A short ramp then leads us up to the foot of the immense golden sculpture of a fish, behind which loom the towers that mark the beginning of the Olympic Harbour, or Port Olímpic.

The breakwater At dusk, one option is simply to watch the evening activities in the Port Olímpic from the Marina jetty, particularly at weekends, when the port is full of boats and the restaurants and discos are full of customers. By day, though, it is well worth Peace and nature 19


T h e s ea fr o nt, fr o m C o l o m t o t h e R i v er B e s ò s

going on to the end of the promenade. There, below us, is Nova Icària, one of the beaches with the most varied range of services.These facilities include two volleyball courts, a games area and a table tennis table, near the Bogatell jetty. The round building at the start of the beach is the Meteorological Centre, designed by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza.

Bogatell and Mar Bella beaches We now take the path above to reach Bogatell beach. Looking towards the mountains, we see Poblenou Park, whilst on the sands are restaurants offering something for all tastes. This is the beach where kite enthusiasts meet on Saturdays to practice and show off their skills whilst, if conditions are right, one can often see windsurfers on their boards in the water, patiently awaiting the perfect wave. They store their equipment at the Mar Bella Nautical Base, between Bogatell and Mar Bella beaches, where sailing and catamaran courses are also provided. Here are two ideas for the more daring: take a canoe out to see the coast from the sea (they are on hire here); or take a dip at the nudist beach that lies behind the artificial dune on Mar Bella beach itself. To the left is Mar Bella Park, and visitors are also recommended to go to the end of the Bac de Roda jetty to enjoy the splendid sea views. Superyachts at Port Fòrum We now cross the bridge onto the other side of Avinguda del Litoral to take the cyclist- and pedestrian-only bridge over the Sant Adrià marina. Once there, we can enjoy the marvellous views of the pleasure craft moored in the dock. Some even have helicopter take-off and landing pads! Enjoy a walk around the Fòrum site, which is usually empty, as far as the bathing area, which is built from cement, with no sand, and offers seawater pools of varying depths. The mouth of the River Besòs Following the tracks of the Trambesòs tram line, we come to the bike lane to Sant Adrià beach, at the mouth of the River Besòs. A number of fishing boats lie aground on the clean sand of this tiny haven of peace between the photovoltaic panel and the Fecsa chimneys.

20 SLOW Barcelona

The Bicing service is the ideal means of transport for this route, as there are several Bicing stations along the way.


ROUTE 1 The sea front,

la.

Av. Meridiana

Pl. Glòries

m Pri

Gra

ts

de

Cor

10 9

al Av. Diagon lL ull

IV

la.

Rb

al Av. Diagon

les

11

Rb

Ara

e ia d nV

a Cat

Pe re

ble Po

n Ro

nou

s

ade

rin

Puj

del

Starting point Moll de la Fusta dock Moll d’Espanya dock Palau de Mar dock Moll dels Pescadors dock Moll de la Marina dock Bogatell beach Mar Bella beach Fòrum de Barcelona Sant Adrià marina Mouth of the River Besòs Besòs River Park

da

Lit

ora

l

8 Bac de Roda Jetty

a

a

àri

Ic Av.

la

amb

3

ea c h

na eta Lai

la R

4

6

7

Marbella Jetty

Bogatell Jetty Olympic Port

Ba r celo net aB

Via

Ciutadella Park

2 I

0

es

lan

Ma

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

12

5

1 km

Peace and nature 21


22 Barcelona SIN PRISAS

Slow Barcelona  

A relaxed tour of the city with 23 itineraries that go for a different approach to urban time and space. Carefully guided routes that pay tr...