Barcelona - El Born

SEP 21,2016 - SEP 21,2016 (1 DAYS)

Spain

1 DAYS

Citywalk

Note: La Ribera and El Born are names of districts in Barcelona which are used interchangeably. So, part of El Born attractions (Carrer de Montcada, Museu Picasso and Basilica Santa Maria del Mar) - you'll find in Tipter blog "Barcelona - La Ribera").

El Born (and a small bit of Eixample).

Main Attractions: Plaça de l'Angel, Passeig del Born, Centre de Cultura i Memòria del Born, Parc de la Ciutadella, Passeig de Lluís Companys, Arc de Triomf.

Start: Jaume I Metro station (yellow, L4 line). End: Arc de Triomf. Duration: 1/2 day. You can COMBINE this itinerary with the Barceloneta itinerary. The Barceloneta route starts (optionally) in the Arc de Triomf.  Distance: 5-6 km. Weather: NOT in a rainy day. Avoid very hot days.

Introduction: The El Born district of Barcelona has all the beauty of the Barri Gotic, with those characteristic like narrow streets and quaint cafe-covered squares. But it just far enough removed from the beaten track to maintain a bit of calm, charm and dignity. Despite the popular tourist attractions of Picasso Museum, Sant Maria del Mar, Ciutadella Park, Barcelona Zoo and the (recently opened) Mammoth Museum, the area has maintained a high degree of local life.

From Jaume I Metro station it is 455 m. walk to Passeig del Born. Plaça de l'Angel was Known in medieval times as the Plaça del Blat ("Square of Wheat"), since all grain sales were made here. This atmospheric square connects Jaume I and Laietana on the eastern edge of the Barri Gòtic. Head northeast on Plaça de l'Àngel toward Via Laietana, 30 m. Turn right onto Via Laietana, 15 m. Turn left onto Carrer de l'Argenteria, 230 m. Turn left onto Carrer dels Sombrerers, 100 m. Turn right onto Placeta de Montcada, 35 m. Turn left onto Passeig del Born for 60 m.

Passeig del Born (Paseo del Born in Spanish) an oblong square, is the heart and soul of El Borne where events are often held. An area that is lined with bars and boutique shops. Its small central area is tree-lined and has benches to sit and watch the world go by. A perfect place to start the day. People, here,  can be found relaxing under the shade of the trees. People-watching and a delicious Italian ice cream from one of the many Gelaterias are irresistible. The benches on Passeig del Born are undoubtedly one of the best places in Barcelona to sit and enjoy some Gelato or a slice of pizza, It is a relatively exclusive area so prices can often be high, however this is usually reflected in the quality and originality of the merchandise. We recommend to select the right (east) side of the avenue. It is more shady and most of the eateries reside there. The avenue is bounded with the church of Santa Maria del Mar in the south side and Born Market at one end and the Centre de Cultura i Memòria at the other, north end. "Born" in Catalan is for jousting field. In the 16th century the victims of the Inquisition were executed here, and in 1714 it was occupied by Philip V's troops following the Siege of Barcelona. Pretty, fascinating, pleasant and photogenic boulevard. Amazing Barcelona vibe. For breakfast - wait, patiently, for the restaurant in the El Born CCM (see below). For more entertainment, during the day, try to sample these bars or eateries:

Creps al Born, Passeig del Born 12. For creps and cocktails. We'll hit this bar along our route from the Metro station.

Miramelindo, Passeig del Born 15 - a small bar, wooden interiors, Mojitos.

Gusto del Born, Passeig del Born 16 - Great Italian food, Pizzas,  Lasagnas, Focaccias, Pasta, Salads. Bargain prices(!). Great solution for lunch.

La Pizza del Born, Passeig del Born 22 - almost next door. Another masterpiece of fast Italian food. Also bargain prices. Wide selection of toppings.

Farggi Born, Passeig del Born 32 - Ice creams, Waffles, Crepes.

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

We cross the Passeig el Born from south-west to north-east on our way to the El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria, Plaça Comercial, 12. The avenue is 230-250 m. length and the CCM is in the most eastern end of the avenue. The Centre de Cultura i Memòria del Born was, formerly, the Antic Mercat del Born, the city's biggest wholesale markets. Opened in 1876, the Old Born market was the first large-scale cast-iron building to be erected in Barcelona. It fulfilled its role as a market for 95 years, which can be divided into two periods, first being the local market for the neighbourhood of La Ribera, and later, as of 1921, becoming Barcelona’s main wholesale market for fruit and vegetables. Closed since the 1970s, during renovations a number of excavations were discovered, which can be viewed through glass flooring. It was reopened in 2013 as a museum and cultural center. The old market building at the far north end has been renovated inside while maintaining the old and architecturally beautiful exterior,

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip The centre has been established to preserve the memory of El Born history in an entertaining, diverse and accessible way. It's free to go in, the building itself is nice to look at and the uncovered old town on display below ground level is worth a look even if history is not your thing. The main attractions here are the archaeological site known as the Ciutat del Born and the permanent exhibition on the Barcelona of the year 1700. First of all - it is an impressive 300 year old excavated town beneath the marketplace. You walk round the excavations. There are printed explanations commenting on the uncovered buildings, passageways and even the stream that flowed among them. There are: restaurant cafe' (good breakfast), souvenirs shop, bookstore and modern toilets, too. During the mornings the site is almost empty, but, during the afternoons it might be more crowded. FREE. Opening hours: TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 20.00. Guided Tours: 60 minutes, daily at 16.30 (English), 17.30 (French),
price per person: €6.60, price per group (max. 15): €89.10, children under 8: free entry.

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Barcelona 1700s:

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From the El Born CCM we continue walking north-east, crossing the bustling street of Passeig del Picasso (through the cross-lights !) and arriving to the Parc de la Ciutdella. The Parc de la Ciutadella was built on the site of a much-hated 18th-century Bourbon citadel, which was destroyed in 1878. In 1714, during the War of the Spanish Succession, Barcelona was laid siege for 13 months by the army of Philip V of Spain. The city fell, and in order to maintain control over it, and to prevent the Catalans from rebelling as they had in the previous century, Philip V built the citadel of Barcelona, at that time the largest fortress in Europe. To build this fortress, Felip V. pulled away a considerable part of the quarter Ribera, leaving its inhabitants homeless. Therewith, the Bourbon king wanted to put the people under his control. La Ciutadella represented everything that the Catalans hated: the Bourbons and the central government in Madrid. In 1841 the city's authorities decided to destroy the fortress, which was hated by Barcelona's citizens. Yet two years later, in 1843, under the regime of Maria Cristina, the citadel was restored. In 1848, after Maria Cristina's abdication and as the citadel lost its use, General Espartero razed most of the buildings within the fortress as well as its walls by bombarding it from the nearby mountain fortress Montjuic, which helped him gain political popularity. By 1869, as the political climate liberalized enough to permit it, General Prim decided to turn over what was left of the fortress to the city and some buildings were demolished under Catalan orders. Later, the Citadel (the part which was left intact) was converted into a prison - mostly for political prisoners. in 1888, Barcelona held the Exposición Universal de Barcelona extravaganza, inspired by Mayor Rius i Taulet, and the park was redesigned with the addition of sculptures and other complementary works of art. The park was designed under the command of Josep Fontsère, the young and then unknown architect Antoni Gaudí supported him with the design of the waterfall "Cascada". This marked the conclusion of the old provincial and unprogressive Barcelona and the establishment of a modern cosmopolitan city. From that point until 1892, half of the park's layout was enhanced again in order to obtain sufficient space for the zoo.

This oasis of relaxing greenery came about in the late 1890s after serving as the site for the Universal Exhibition. Its many highlights include statues, fountains (one designed by a young Gaudí), a boating lake, a waterfall (La Cascada) with a giant hairy mammoth sculpture, the Domènech i Muntaner-designed Castell dels Tres Dragons (Castle of Three Dragons), which houses the zoological museum, two arboretums, and a small botanical garden. There's also a science museum and -- last, but not least -- the Catalan Parliament, which is located in the former citadel's arsenal and can be visited ONLY by appointment. Stroll to the northern end of the park to view the Modernista / Mudéjar style Arc de Triomf, which served as the entrance to the Universal Exhibition. Probably, the most extensive and greenest oasis in Barcelona. 

Opening hours: 23 March to 22 September: daily 10.00 - 20.00, 23 September to 22 March: daily 10.00 - 18.00. FREE. Hire of the boats for 30 minutes: 2 persons: €6, 3 persons: €9, 4/5 persons: €10, Groups from 20 persons: €2.

Public Transport: take the Metro line L1 to station Arc de Trionf. Pass through the Arc de Trionf and head for the car-free Passeig de Lluis Companys directly to the main entrance of the Ciutadella.

As we enter through the southern entrance from Passeig del Picasso - we face a modern sculpture: 

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and a group of water streams:

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Main entrance of the Ciutadella in Passeig del Picasso:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Turn your head BACK to see the gorgeous Av. del Marquès de l'Argentera - the wide avenue opposite the entrance to the Ciutadella:

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As you enter the park and walk straight on along Carrer Distllers or Passeig dels Til·lers you see this statue (General Prim) and frieze (the Zoo is on your right):

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

We've been in the park during the first two weeks of September. The La Merce festival takes place in Barcelona during the end of the 1st week of September every year:

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The first outstanding building that we see in front of us is the Military Parish Church of Barcelona. :

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Military Parish Church of Barcelona from the Catalan Parliament (see below):

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The Parlament de Catalunya can be visited on the first Friday of the month with a guided tour (in Catalan). Similarly, the building is open to visitors on 11th September (the Catalan national holiday) and 12th of September. In the Parliament building, you can visit also the Museu d'Art Modern. Nearby, you can see a replica of Josep Llimona's beautiful sculpture "El desconsol" (Distress), which is one of the most important pieces of public art in the park. The Catalan Parliament is located in  a building with imposing architecture. The architecture of this parliament building still looks very much the same as it did when it was designed by the architect and military engineer Próspero de Verboom. Built between 1716 and 1748. It has two storeys and an attic space set out on a cross-shaped ground plan with a central dome and four inner courtyards. The building is made from stone quarried on Montjuïc and terracotta tiles, and is decorated with the busts of eminent figures associated with Catalan art. It is dating back to the 18th century, when it was built as a military arsenal for the mighty citadel. It has been the seat of Parliament since the reinstatement of democracy and civil liberties in year 1932, after over 40 years of dictatorship. Opening hours: SAT: 10.00 - 19.00, SUN and public holidays: 10.00 - 14.00. Closed: January 1st, May 1st, December 25th & 26th, weekends & public holidays in August. On show to the public are the sweeping Escala d’Honor (Stairway of Honour) and the several solemn halls that lead to the Saló de Sessions, the semicircular auditorium where parliament sits:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Note the marvelous plane trees in front of the Catalan Parliament building:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

In the lily pond at the centre of the garden in front of the Parliament building is a statue of a seemingly heartbroken woman, Desconsol (Distress; 1907), by Josep Llimona:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

A monument of the painter Joaquim Vayreda opposite the Parliament:

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This bronze sculpture by Josep Clàra -  Als Voluntaris Catalans is SO RELEVANT in these days of Autumn 2017. This sculpture of a nude of a young man with arms raised, dates back to 1918. It symbolizes the Catalan volunteers killed on the battlefield under the Allied forces. In 1923 the sculptor had already finished the monument, but then, the dictator Primo de Rivera came to power and abandoned the project. The dictatorship prohibited any public act of Catalan self-determination. The statue waited for thirteen years. Fnally it was located in the park of the Ciutadella where it has remained until today:

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The sculpture was subject of violations during the Franco regime. On the occasion of the Eucharistic Congress, in 1952, the monument was hidden by a huge screen. In December 1952 it was cut off his arms so he was covered again with a box until his restoration. In 1954 the brass arms were restored and the young man's genitals got hidden with a vine leaf. The personal notes of the file of Clarà allow to follow in detail the displeasure of the sculptor about the treatment of his work.

On the 75th anniversary of its inauguration, the shameful vine leaf has been removed, thus recovering the original nude that allows us to enjoy the work of Clarà as it was sculpted, in a new location on the shallow bank of the lake.

Then, we arrive to a small lake where you can hire a rowing boat to paddle boat:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

A giant Mammoth and a bandstand are among the other elements which surprise visitors to this vibrant central park in Barcelona:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

The park's bandstand, Glorieta de la Transsexual Sònia, is dedicated to a transsexual, Sonia Rescalvo Zafra, who was murdered there on 6 October 1991 by right-wing extremists:

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The monumental cascada (waterfall) (Gran Cascada) near the Passeig de Pujades park entrance, created between 1875 and 1881 by Josep Fontserè with the help of an enthusiastic young Gaudí, is a dramatic combination of statuary, rugged rocks, greenery and thundering water – all of it perfectly artificial. Antoni Gaudí immortalized himself on the fountain, which stands by the lake. The water basin in front of fountain is guarded by winged dragons, a figure quite commonly found in his work. But the key role of the design of the waterfall and lake is attributed to Josep Fontseré:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Walking further northward in the park, not far from the northern exit - you see the Sculpture ´World Expo 1888´ by Antoni Clave:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Castell dels Tres Dragons (Castle of the three Dragon): the northernmost building, the Castell dels Tres Dragons houses the Zoological Museum. It occupies the original restaurant designed for the exhibition by Domènech i Montaner. The brick house is an example of early Modernista. The building was built in 1887 by architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner, one of the leading representatives of the Catalan Art Nouveau. An excellent designer, a devoted political leader and a respected teacher among other activities he carried during his life, Lluis Domènech i Montaner (1850-1923) merged his values and convictions based on solid historical knowledge together all kinds of disciplines and a deep commitment with society during his career as an architect in his unique buildings. Since 1920 this building houses the Zoological Museum. The towers and battlements are reminiscent of the Moorish style. The art to decorate building facades with ceramics, was revived and became an important technique of the Modernista trend. The name was probably adopted from the 1865 play by Serafí Pitarra:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

The following 3 sites are alltogether adjacent to the northern side of the park - opposite Passeig del Picasso.

Right next to the Castell dels Tres Dragons the winter garden "L'Hivernacle" is located (c/ Melcior de Palau, 32 – 36). The winter garden is a pavilion made of cast iron and glass. The architect was Josep Amargós. In the summer there is a particularly nice café. There are also several jazz concerts. The Hivernacle is still attributed to the Modernista. The building was inaugurated in 1888 for the World (Universal) Exposition. It’s quite a treat for plant enthusiasts and architecture lovers as the two worlds merge in one great experience. The glass, brick and steel construction was designed by Josep Amargós in 1884, it’s an excellent example of the iron and glass based architecture from the same period that saw the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Opening hours: Winter: MON- FRI: 10.00 – 14.00, 17.00 – 20.00, SAT: 10.00 – 14.00, SUN: 10.30 – 14.00. August: MON – FRI: 10.00 – 14.00, 17.00  – 20.30, SAT: 10.00 – 14.00, Sundays: closed: 

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The Geological Museum is adjacent to the Hivernacle. Built in 1882 by Antoni Rovira i Trias in neo-classical style. The construction of the museum was made possible by a donation from Francesc Martorell Peña. It was the first museum in Barcelona and it has today a large collection of minerals.

Umbracle -  a tropical greenhouse for shade-loving plants. The Umbracle is a wood-brick construction. Although this building needs an urgent rehabilitation, it offers a very impressive atmosphere in its interiors. The architect was, again, Amargós. The Umbracle was completed for the World Exposition in 1888:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

We leave the Parc de la Ciutadella from its north-west exit and walk north-west along the huge and wonderful Passeig de Lluís Companys. It is a promenade which belongs, formally, to the Eixample district of Barcelona. It starts (east) at the  Parc de la Ciutadella, on Carrer de Pujades, and ends (west) at the Arc de Triomf. It was named after President Lluís Companys, who was executed in 1940. The distance from the park to the Arc de Triomf is 450 m. THe promenade is quite bustling BUT very pretty with wonderful buildings and ornate lampposts along its northern side.

Passeig de Lluís Companys - Rius i Taulet monument in 2008:

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Passeig de Lluís Companys - Rius i Taulet monument in 2016:

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Tribunal Superior de Justícia de Catalunya - a monumental building in a highly ecelctic style, by Enric Sagnier on Passeig de Lluís Companys:

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Citywalk in , Spain, visiting things to do in Spain, Travel Blog, Share my Trip

We could not stop admiring the stunning buildings on our right along the Passeig de Lluís Companys:

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Passeig de Lluís Companys continues straight north-west beyond the Arc de Triomf and changes its name to Passeig de Sant Joan. Here, sdtands the Memorial Monument of  luís Companys (1882-1940):

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Northwest of the park, Passeig de Lluís Companys is capped by the Modernista Arc de Triomf, designed by Josep Vilaseca. In 1888 Barcelona hosted the Universal Exhibition. The Arc de Triomf was built as the gateway to the fair which was held in the Parc de la Ciutadella. It has become one of the city's iconic landmarks. The architect Josep Vilaseca designed a monument of classical style and proportions as an allegory of Barcelona's respect for the nations and provinces taking part in the exhibition. As a counterpoint, Vilaseca chose to build the arch from brick and decorate it with sculptural motifs. The combination of red brick with the series of friezes around the arch, make it a singularly beautiful landmark. The frieze facing the park (east side) shows the Barcelona city presenting medals to the exhibition participants. The frieze overlooking the Passeig de Sant Joan (west side) depicts Barcelona welcoming the nations. Josep Llimona did the main reliefs. Just what the triumph was eludes us, especially since the exhibition itself was a commercial failure:

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You can COMBINE this itinerary with the Barceloneta itinerary (which, also, extends for 1/2 day). The Barceloneta route starts (optionally) in the Arc de Triomf.

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