Although I spent a summer in Barcelona while in college, I’ve truly gained familiarity with the city in the years that I’ve been returning to Spain. I dedicated those early days of my travels to the more typically touristic of activities – Gaudí museums, the Sagrada Familia and the more heavily trodden alleys of the Barri Gotic. It was during a visit several years later in which I fell in love with the neighborhood of Gracia. This part of Barcelona is so close to the center, but somehow maintains a neighborhood ambiance. I am quick to return to Gracia upon setting foot in the city and spent a few hours wandering around the area with my camera earlier this year.
The buildings in Gracia are a bit shorter than their counterparts on the Avinguda Diagonal and the streets are more narrow. The set-up of the neighborhood creates a cozy and familiar feel.
Those quiet streets lead to grand plazas, like the Plaça de la Vila de Gracia and its memorable clock tower.
The shops selling food and drink are a colorful mix of old and new. You can spend the better part of a day just trying to figure out the best signage in Gracia.
The uptick in fun street art really registered on this walk. No better way to spruce up a wall or the gate of a store than some paint and creativity.
Even zombies feature in the street art.
Of course, a visit to Gracia would be wasted without some time in their markets – check out my Barcelona market post for more photos.
While a walk around Gracia is a fantastic exercise, my favorite times in the neighborhood have consisted of a coffee or a beer in a plaza, with the architecture giving way to the sky after a few floors. These are the images that keep dragging me back to Gracia and I’m itching to have another afternoon to explore it yet again.
Are you headed to Barcelona in 2015? If so, be sure to check out my review of U232 Hotel and the discount code for my readers!