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Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia, is divided into districts which correspond to former independent municipalities which became part of the city during the 19th and 20th centuries. Because of the city’s great demographic and territorial expansion these areas have united to create the city we know today.
The municipality is administratively divided into ten districts, the biggest territorial units within the city of Barcelona.
1. Ciutat Vella
Ciutat Vella encompasses what used to be Catalonia’s capital town. The l’Eixample area also belonged to Barcelona but was not built up until after the mid-19th century bombings. It has nearly 105,000 inhabitants.
The district of Ciutat Vella is made up of the Raval, Gotic, Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i La Ribera and Barceloneta neighborhoods.
Ciutat Vella is undoubtedly the most visited part of Barcelona together with l’Eixample district, and is home to the majority of the city’s attractions such as Plaça Catalunya, la Rambla, Via Laietana, Portal de l’ Àngel, El Gran Teatre del Liceu, Santa Maria del Mar, the Cathedral of Barcelona, Plaça del Rei, Plaça Reial, the Generalitat, the Town Hall and many more. Needless to say, there is a large variety of hotels in Ciutat Vella.
2. Nou Barris
The Nou Barris district in Barcelona is located in the northeast corner of the city, between the Collserola mountains and Meridiana Avenue. It has nearly 170,000 inhabitants.
Without a doubt, Nou Barris has made large gains regarding quality of life in recent decades. This district has one of the largest libraries in Barcelona, and Nou Barris Central Park is almost 18 hectares large, giving the district a substantial green lung.
The University of Barcelona has placed one of its faculties in the area Can Dragó, where you can also find El Corte Inglés and Heron City shopping center which is full of outlets, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas.
3. Horta- Guinardo
The Horta-Guinardó district, where almost 170,000 people reside, makes up 11.9% of Barcelona’s territory.
This district includes most of the former village of Sant Joan D’horta, and to a lesser extent of Sant Andreu de Palomar and Sant Martí de Provençals. It is located between the districts of Gràcia and Noubarris, sharing its southern border with l’Eixample, Sant Andreu and Sant Martí de Provençals. To the North it is bordered by Collserola and the municipalities of Sant Cugat del Vallès and Cerdanyola del Vallès.
Given its proximity to Collserola, Horta still retains the air of an agricultural village. Green and hilly, with modernist holiday homes, it is isolated from Barcelona’s crowd while still well accessable by publict transport.
4. Sarria-Sant Gervasi
This area of Barcelona is divided into six neighborhoods: Sarria, Sant Gervasi-Galvany, del Putget i Farro, Sant Gervasi – La Bonanova, Les Tres Torres, Vallvidrera, Tibidabo and Les Planes.
The Sarrià-Sant Gervasi neighborhood has the highest income per capita in Barcelona. Buildings with gardens, large and comfortable apartments, parks, and boutiques are characteristic of this area. You can also find mansions belonging to the richest families of Barcelona on Pearson Avenue.
Sarrià-Sant Gervasi is also home to the Pedrables monastery which, in addition to its artistic and cultural interest, houses the collection of the Thyssen Bornemisza family. Parc de L’oreneta, at the foot of the Collserola natural park, is a breathtaking place to have a drink or a meal in the summer, overlooking the entire city of Barcelona.
Vallvidrera, a neighborhood located in the heart of the Tibidabo mountain, is home to many beautiful cottages. The Tibidabo amusement park is located at the top of the mountain.
5. Les Corts
Les Corts is bordered by the districts Sants-Montjuïc and Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, l’Eixample, and the municipalities of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat and Esplugues de Llobregat, Sant Just Desvern. It has more than 82,000 inhabitants.
Les Corts was originally its own village known as Les Corts de Sarrià, made independent of Sarria in 1836.
The district is divided into 10 neighborhoods: Camp de la Creu, Camp Vell, Can Batllori, Can Sol de Baix, Centre, Can Bacardi, La Mercè, Pedralbes, Sant Ramon and Zona Universitària.
Les Corts is a wealthy neighborhood, full of shops and life. The famous football club FC Barcelona plays its home games at Camp Nou here in this district. In addition, several University of Barcelona faculties can be found here, such as law, business and economics, physics and chemistry and biology.
Regarding business tourism, the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya is a highlight of the area, located on Barcelona’s Diagonal Avenue, the city´s most important financial and commercial center.
Les Corts is home to Barcelona’s first shopping center, L’illa Diagonal.
Gracia has more than 120,000 inhabitants.
This district is composed of several different neighbourhoods: Gracia, formally the town of Vila de Gràcia, el Camp d’ in Grassot, Gràcia Nova, La Salut, Vallcarca, el Coll and Penitents. It is the smallest district of Barcelona, but nevertheless the second most densely populated.
Places of interest:
- The Park Güell
- Travessera de Gràcia
- Jaume Fuster library
- Church of Nuestra Señora del Coll
Sants has more than 180,000 inhabitants and is bordered by L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, el Prat de Llobregat, Ciutat Vella, les Corts and l’Eixample.
The Sants-Montjuic district is divided into different neighborhoods: Poble-sec, Santa Maria de Sants, Zona Franca, Bordeta-Hostafrancs, Guatlla-Magoria Font and Montjuïc.
Carrer Gran de Sants, its main street, has the most shops per square meter in the world, in proportion to its length. This district of Barcelona can also claim Sants Station, one of the main transport hubs in Barcelona with connections for commuter, regional and long distance railways. The AVE, Spain´s high-speed railway, makes stops at Sants Station.
Also belonging to this area is Montjuic mountain, also known as the lung of Barcelona, where you can find many cultural places of interest such as the Font Màgica, Pavilion Mies van der Rhoe, MNAC, the Caixaforum, the Olympic Stadium, Palau Sant Jordi, the Poble Espanyol, the modernista cemetery of Montjuïc, Fira de Barcelona to Sants-Montjuic, and so on.
Also belonging to this district, Zona Franca is mainly an industrial area located on the port of Barcelona. In a sector of this neighborhood the local government has decided to strengthen the implementation of Communication and Information Technology, as they have done in the Forum area, in order to boost the city’s economy. Construction is being carried out to suit the area and a precious skyline is already visible. The Fira of Barcelona has expanded into the Zona Franca.
The District of l’Eixample, with more than 260,000 inhabitants, is the most populated part of Barcelona. This district stands out thanks to Ildefons Cerdà´s urban plan. He was in charge of this area, the ensanche of Barcelona, after the collapse of the medieval walls in the 19th century.
Many of Barcelona´s most famous attractions and well-known streets can be found in this district, such as Passeig de Gràcia, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Avinguda Diagonal, Carrer Balmes, Aribau, Muntaner, Valencia, Mallorca, Arago, etc.
In this district you can find the Sagrada Familia, known as ¨La Manzana de la Discordia,¨ as well as many other great Art Nouveau masterpieces put forth by Moderist geniuses such as Guadí´s Casa Batlló, Domenech and Montaner´s Casa Lleó Morera, and Puig and Cadafalch´s Casa Amatller. La Pedrera, la Casa de les Punxes, the Palau Baró de Quadras, and other beautiful buildings of Passeig de Gracia and Rambla Catalunya make this one Barcelona´s most beautiful districts.
L’Eixample was formerly divided into l ‘Eixample Dreta and l’ Eixample Esquerra. In l’Eixample Dreta on the right, we find Passeig de Gràcia, and the Vila Olímpica and Sagrada Familia neighborhoods. The Sant Antoni neighborhood is located on the left in l’Eixample Esquerra and is very traditional and very characteristic of Barcelona.
9. Sant Marti
Sant Martí shares boarders with Sant Adrià de Besòs, Sant Andreu, Ciutat Vella, l’Eixample and Horta-Guinardó. It has more than 220,000 inhabitants.
The District of Sant Martí boasts diverse neighborhoods, many of them former towns annexed to Barcelona. The neighborhoods are: La Verneda, Poblenou, El Clot-Camp de l’Arpa, Fort Pius y el Barri del Besòs and Maresme.
10. Sant Andreu
There are more than 170,000 inhabitants in Sant Andreu, 50,000 of which live in the historic center of what was the town of Sant Andreu de Palomar. It is Barcelona’s third largest district. This district includes the neighborhoods of Sant Andreu de Palomar, the old town from which the district takes its name, La Sagrera, formerly belonging to the Church, Trinitat Vella, Bon Pastor, the Congrès, the Baró de Viver and Navas.
This district is not very touristy and is home to few hotels. Even so, Sagrera is undergoing a project expected to revitalize its level of tourism.