The Born and Sant Pere are two districts divided by C/Princesa. The pedestrianised Passeig del Born, the Born's main artery, is one of Barcelona's prettiest thoroughfares, bookended by a magnificent 19th-century market building and a glorious 14th-century church. Highlights of the slightly scruffier Sant Pere include Domènech i Montaner's magical Palau de la Música.
Brad Ainsworth, the chef who brought the gourmet burger to Barcelona with his tiny Bacoa, also opened El Kiosko, which is along the same lines but more spacious and comfortable and open onto the street. Try any of the delicious recipes with special chutney sauce, home-cooked fries and you’ll know what I mean.
The Mosquito is the epitome of exoticism. They make excellent Cantonese cuisine, particularly the famous dim sum rolls. Giles, the restaurant owner, is an Englishman who, after travelling round Asia for years, decided to open a Chinese restaurant in Barcelona, but without all the clichés. What makes his restaurant even more unusual are the four taps of delicious English ale, as well as more than 70 brands of craft beer from Catalonia and the rest of the world. Any questions? Then ask him; he knows pretty much everything about beer.
Casa Delfín was given a general facelift recently, when it changed owners. But some types of plastic surgery enhance the features and yet it’s hardly noticeable. This has become a place which, while it still has the appearance of an eatery, is more dynamic, has a traditional yet more diverse menu, and the outdoor terrace is absolutely lovely. And, like any good neighbourhood bar-restaurant, it is open uninterruptedly from 9 am until midnight, while on Friday and Saturday the closing time is extended until 1am. A perfect place to take visiting friends who want to have paella in the morning, after leaving Santa Maria del Mar church.
The eponymous seven doors open on to as many dining salons, all kitted out in elegant 19th-century decor. Long-aproned waiters bring regional dishes, served in vast portions, including a stewy fish zarzuela with half a lobster, a different paella daily (shellfish, for example, or rabbit and snails), a wide array of fresh seafood, and heavier dishes such as herbed black-bean stew with pork sausage, and orujo sorbet to finish. Reservations are available only for certain tables; otherwise, get there early.
All the staff at this restaurant are from Puglia, but the place has a number of features that don’t derive from that region. These include many dishes, but let's start with their typical orecchiette, which they make with clams, arugula and tomato. For starters there’s a wonderful burrata pugliesa (a mild cheese, creamier than mozzarella) served with arugula, cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They also serve a lightly-fried tuna with cumin, mushrooms and onion confit which is just sensational. A very good wine list, headed by the magnificent Nero di Troia, a wine from Puglia.
It's incredible how easy it is to make guests happy with little details and, above all, with an authentic cuisine that is made with love. That is the philosophy at this delightful Italian restaurant. There’s only one thing they want: and that is to please you. Located near the majestic Palau de la Música, this restaurant with its Neapolitan flavours and colours is a delight, especially for those who have had the good fortune to visit Naples and try its many tasty dishes. You might be surprised when a friendly Neapolitan waiter comes to show you the packet of pasta he suggests that you try. The care they put into their dishes makes this place better than most other Italian eateries. It’s no coincidence that it’s a favourite among young Italians living in Barcelona.
Carles Abellán forms part of a supergroup of young chefs who worked inel Bulli at the end of the 1990s, along with Oriol Balaguer, Marc Singla andSergi Arola. As a chef he has proved that he has clear ideas about how hisgastronomic creations must be prepared and presented for these new times.His most important project to date is Comerç 24, a cosmopolitan restaurantserving creative tapas that could have come from el Bulli itself, with the mostdemanding levels of quality and excellent service. It was conceived to be a totalexperience, from the moment you enter the restaurant to the moment you leave.
This bar is a classic born of love and rock 'n' roll. It draws all types of rock fans: those who look like they were around when Pat Boone was de-sexing rock for the middle-class whites of the States, rockers, hooligan lawyers, heavy metal fans and architects, and at the end, all of them end up as colleagues.
For those of us who yearn for days gone by, the best we can come up with is to reclaim old bars before they're taken over by more modern spaces. However, sometimes we stubborn grumps find ourselves in places like Collage, little treasures that force us to put up with the angry rants of a pungent drunk and accept the healing powers of a humble cocktail.What makes this place different is that it's nothing like the traditional definition of a bar. It's more of a kind of artistic/alcoholic oasis where art and cocktails come together in a seductive dance: a celebration of creativity at the service of the liver. At Collage, the experimental cocktails are pure artistic imagination. The house concoctions – while they also serve the classics – are the products of the creative impulses of bartenders who definitely know what they’re doing. Some of their more memorable experiments include the cazador de mosquitos, with Tanqueray, shaken with citronella, lychee and blackberry cream, or the spring perfume, with strawberry, Smirnoff, basil, lemon juice and berries.The décor features an antique tiled bar at the entrance, and the crown jewel is the top-floor lounge with vintage furnishings, a 19th-century piano and leather sofas, an attractive space decorated exquisitely and tastefully where small art exhibitions are often held. Everyone knows that hipsters drink, and at Collage they know that, contrary to popular belief, hipsters are human after all and they eat, too. So if you’re up for a snack,
Positioned somewhere between a French bistro and a tapas bar, the Bar del Pla serves tapas or raciones (divine pig's trotters with foie, outstanding pa amb tomàquet). Drinks include Mahou on tap (a fine beer, often ignored here because it's from Madrid), plus some good wines by the glass.
Commissioned by the nationalistic Orfeó Català choral society, this jawdropping concert hall was intended as a paean to the Catalan renaixença and a showcase for the most outstanding Modernista workmanship available. Domènech i Montaner's façade is a frenzy of colour and detail, including a large allegorical mosaic representing the members of the Orfeó Català, and floral tiled columns topped with the busts of Bach, Beethoven and Palestrina on the main façade and Wagner on the side. Inside, a great deal of money has been spent improving the acoustics, but visitors don't really come here to feast their ears: the eyes have it.Decoration erupts everywhere. The ceiling is an inverted bell of stained glass depicting the sun bursting out of a blue sky; 18 half-mosaic, half-relief Muses appear out of the back of the stage; winged horses fly over the upper balcony. The carved arch over the stage represents folk and classical music: the left side has Catalan composer and conductor Anselm Clavé sitting over young girls singing 'Flors de Maig', a traditional Catalan song, while the right has Wagnerian Valkyries riding over a bust of Beethoven.By the 1980s, the Palau was bursting under the pressure of the musical activity going on inside it, and a church next door was demolished to make space for Òscar Tusquet's extension, a project which, combined with the extensive renovations to the old building, spanned over 20 years. Rather than try to compete with the existing façade, the new part h
One of the most perfect surviving examples of the Catalan Gothic style, this graceful basilica stands out for its characteristic horizontal lines, plain surfaces, square buttresses and flat-topped octagonal towers. Its superb unity of style is down to the fact that it was built relatively quickly, with construction taking just 55 years (1329 to 1384). Named after Mary as patroness of sailors, it was built on the site of a small church known as Santa Maria d’Arenys (sand), for its position close to the sea. In the broad, single-nave interior, two rows of perfectly proportioned columns soar up to fan vaults, creating an atmosphere of space around the light-flooded altar. There’s also superb stained glass, especially the great 15th-century rose window above the main door. The original window fell down during an earthquake, killing 25 people. The incongruous modern window at the other end was a 1997 addition, belatedly celebrating the Olympics.It's perhaps thanks to the group of anti-clerical anarchists who set the church ablaze for 11 days in 1936 that its superb features can be appreciated - without the wooden Baroque furniture that clutters so many Spanish churches, the simplicity of its lines can emerge. On Saturdays, the basilica is in great demand for weddings, and it's a traditional venue for concerts: look out for a Requiem Mass at Easter and Handel's Messiah at Christmas.
When it opened in 1963, the museum dedicated to Barcelona's favourite adopted son was housed in the Palau Aguilar. Nearly five decades later, the permanent collection of some 3,800 pieces has now been spread across five adjoining palaces, two of which are devoted to temporary exhibitions. By no means an overview of the artist's work, the Museu Picasso is rather a record of the vital formative years that the young Picasso spent nearby at La Llotja art school (where his father taught), and later hanging out with Catalonia's fin-de-siècle avant-garde. Those looking for hits like Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) and the first Cubist paintings from the time (many of them done in Catalonia), as well as his collage and sculpture, will be disappointed. The founding of the museum is down to a key figure in Picasso's life, his friend and secretary Jaume Sabartés, who donated his own collection for the purpose. Tribute is paid with a room dedicated to Picasso's portraits of him (best known is the Blue Period painting of Sabartés wearing a white ruff), and Sabartés's own doodlings. The seamless presentation of Picasso's development from 1890 to 1904, from deft pre-adolescent portraits to sketchy landscapes to the intense innovations of his Blue Period, is unbeatable, then it leaps to a gallery of mature Cubist paintings from 1917. The pièce de résistance is the complete series of 58 canvases based on Velázquez's famous Las Meninas, donated by Picasso himself after the death of Sabartés,
Built in 1846, the Mercat de Santa Caterina is the second oldest market in the city. The renovation project was the work of Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue’s team of architects. Its most characteristic element is its gorgeous mosaic roof, reminiscent of Gaudi’s work, made with 325,000 pieces whose colours echo the fruit and vegetable stands underneath. The façade of the original building, reconstructed in 1988, has been preserved, along with the side walls.
The European Museum of Modern Art, located inside the Palau Gomis, makes figurative art of the 20th and 21st centuries its main priority, something that doesn't usually get a lot of museum space. The Museum's Foundation organises a yearly prize for Figurative Painting and Sculpture.
Knitted amigurumi dolls (here re-christened as Cookonoflis and Titoluigi) take pride of place in El Calaix, the boutique of Patricia Vigussà. They stock a collection by Pepa Loves and accessories by La Mouchette, and have all you need for crochet. They also organise knitting classes.
The owners of My Beautiful Parking fell in love with fixed-gear bicycles and decided to change the direction of the business. But what makes them stand out from the rest is that, instead of working with factory-built bikes, they offer tailor-made bikes to their clients.
The cafeteria at the Estació de França is popular both with early-risers and all-night revellers. The décor resembles a kind of jazz club, with its four-metre-high plants rising to the ceiling, and little tables with iron legs. During the day, it functions as a breakfast bar and restaurant. The early evening brings out its charm, and they offer nightly meals with shows at weekends. After midnight it transforms into a lounge bar.
Looking for a rock club in Barcelona? Two words: Magic Club. It’s the spot that rock freaks flock to en masse when they realise that they’ve fallen for the traps and lies of the modern world, or just when they feel like getting drunk and dancing to the Dictators. Since its opening in 1976, Magic has seen it all: counterculture, punk, new wave. From the mid-'90s up to the last decade the club led a double life as a concert hall. Johnny Thunders, Hellacopters, the best of the world’s high-energy rock set the tiny stage on fire. Now, by city law, the venue only serves as a club, welcoming the pop-wearing into its open rocker arms. It’s a little microcosm where you can dance out the weekends in perpetual darkness until 6 in the morning on the two dancefloors.
The American owner of The Glass Bar set out to bring a bit of the Manhattan-style cocktail bar to the Born in Barcelona. And that's just what he's done with this space where black and fuchsia live happily alongside forged metal furniture. If you're looking a spot for a post-workday tipple that reminds you of 'Sex and the City' (minus the ubiquitous cigarettes of days gone by, of course), where you can relax in a spacious chill-out zone, this is it. Be sure to have a look at the artwork for sale hanging on the walls.
This sprawling space on C/Comerç has an air of exclusivity about it, but you can still get tapas in the form of finger food to start off your night. There's a decent selection of DJ-spun house music, wall to wall beautiful people and laser lighting effects, in case the earth is still feeling a bit too stable underfoot.