Multicultural, attractive, popular, shameless … Gracia is a break from the busy Barcelona life. More than a neighborhood, Gracia is like a village with its own identity, or at least was until the expansion of the city ended up engulfing it and integrating its population into the capital city in the late nineteenth century.
Located in the middle of the region of Barcelonés, Gracia’s district occupies 1,3 km2 and features irregular narrow streets and sixteen public squares, many of them emblematic, in which the history of this city and the district is reflected. In this post, we will introduce and describe some of the most famous squares, as well as tell the stories hidden among its cobblestones.
To start the tour, we find ourselves in the center of the neighborhood, Plaça de la Vila de Gracia, where the district headquarters are located. In the middle of it, there is an octagonal bell tower that measures 33 meters – without a doubt the first thing you see upon entering in the square. Filled with cafes and bars, this plaza is a place where graciencs and tourists can enjoy a relaxing moment during the day.
A few meters from Plaça de la Vila, after crossing Travessera de Gràcia, we find one of the busiest spaces in the neighborhood, Plaça del Sol. One could say that this square is the entertainment center of the neighborhood, full of bars and cafes to visit while out, and serves as a meeting point for Barcelona’s youth. In it, you can also observe the great diversity of cultures to which Barcelona is a host, as well as the good feeling that they produce. In the past, the basement of the square served as an antiaircraft space. If you want to spend a good evening with friends, don’t hesitate to visit this plaza.
Continuing down Calle Terol, we find one of the most revolutionary places in the neighborhood, Plaça de la Revolució de Setembre of 1868. It was so named to commemorate the Spanish uprising that took place in September 1868, which led to the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth II and the beginning of the Sexenio Democrático (six-year democratic) term. Today, the square has benches where many people sit to chat, a playground for little ones, and a few bars with terraces that are almost always full, seeing as the plaza is home to some of the best ice cream shops in Barcelona. The plaza boasts direct access to Travessera de Gràcia and the famous street Calle Verdi, known for its length and its wide variety of establishments and restaurants.
Following Calle Terol, we eventually reach a crossroads where Calle Verdi intersects Calle de l’Or and produces plazas on both of said intersection’s sides. On the left is Plaça del Diamant, famous on a literary level thanks the novel by Catalan writer Mercè Rodoreda. Some of the curiosities surrounding this square are found in the names of its adjacent streets: Or, Topazi, Robí, Perla … This is because in the past, the property upon which these streets were built belonged to Josep Rossell, a famous jeweler in Barcelona. Currently, in the basement of the square you can visit other air raid shelters built by the the neighborhood during the Spanish Civil War.
Returning to the intersection and taking a right this time, we find the last square, Plaça de la Virreina, known as the square with the “greatest village sensation” to its neighbors. This is because Sant Joan church, located directly in the middle of the plaza, is surrounded by smaller, shorter houses that give it a more majestic feeling. The building had to be rebuilt several times thanks to attacks made during a period known as la Setmana Trágica, or “the Tragic Week,” in 1909.
Five squares, five stories and five ambients. If you feel inspired to learn more about these emblematic places in the Gracia neighborhood, don’t hesitate to visit them and tell us about your experience on our blog!
Translated by: Kirstin Meyerhoeffer