Vila de Gràcia, the heart of the district of Gràcia, is a warren of very strollable streets and inviting squares fringed with café-bars, craft, design and fashion stores, restaurants offering every kind of cuisine, cool bodegas, independent cinemas, music venues, theatres, art galleries, craft workshops, an excellent market, plus much, much more.
The neighbourhood is famed for its Festa Major in August, when hundreds of thousands of visitors cram the narrow streets to inspect the residents’ wonderfully inventive decorations.
Vila de Gràcia is also well-known for its political activism, with frequent protsts, meetings and direct action which occasionally provoke a heavy-handed response from the Mossos d’Esquadra’s Mobile Group (anti-disturbance police).
You could easily spend a whole month strolling and grazing around, stopping off at squares, window shopping and dancing ’til you drop, and never get its measure.
Until 1897 Vila de Gràcia was a town in its own right and still has its own town hall (ajuntament).
Deceptively quiet during the day the squares come alive after local kids get out of school. Then the shops, markets and bars fill with locals on the way home from work. Then it's dinner and the restaurants get busy. And then the grown ups come out to play in the squares.
With streets called Danger, Friendship and Liberty, and squares named John Lennon, Revolution, and the Women of 1936, how can you not explore this intriguing neighbourhood?
If staying here you’ll have a great time. Even if you're not a party animal, it's a fascinating area to simply stroll around — you're sure to find something interesting. Getting in and out of the city centre by bus, metro and FGC trains is a breeze.
If staying elsewhere in the city then it’s well worth a visit — perhaps for lunch or dinner, or a drink and a snack on your way to or from nearby, Park Güell in neighbouring La Salut.
FC Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stengen, considered one of the top three goalkeepers in the world, lives here. If you keep your eyes open you may see him noodling through the streets on his electric scooter.
Opera diva, Montserrat Caballé was born here, at Carrer de Igualada, 21.
Movie director, Isabel Coixet lives here, as does singer-songwriter, Jackson Browne.
Esteemed writer, Mercè Rodoreda, although she lived in El Putxet before her exile in France, immortalized the neighbourhood in her classic 1962 novel, La plaça del diamant — In Diamond Square, set immediately before and during the Civil War.
Rumba catalana — Catalan rumba music, made popular in the mainstream by The Gypsy Kings, was nurtured here.
Festivities & Traditions
Festa de Sant Medir
March 3rd — a colourful cavalcade of horses and carriages, freely distributing tons of sweets as it parades through the streets. All good fun.
June 4th — the neighbourhood celebrates its Diada (founding day) —when they'll be a correfoc.
August 15th — August 21st
The whole neighbourhood goes crazy for a week. Streets compete to construct the most elaborate and entertaining decorations from recycled materials, and every square is packed with colour and music — from traditional folk, through swing, country, jazz, rumba, havaneres, R'n'B, world music, to ska, thrash-punk and techno. And all the decorated streets have stages hosting more music, theatre and dance.
Food & Drink
Bar Vinil, — indie music bar — on Carrer de Matlide, very near Plaça de la Vila. Here's a write-up by my Spotted by Locals colleague, Cris Rosique: LINK.
Cervesera Artesana — real ale bar and microbrewery — on Carrer de Sant Agustí, just off Carrer Còrsega. Another write-up by Cris Rosique HERE
Arts & Entertainment
Cinema Verdi on Carrer Verdi.
Cinemes Texas. Great little cinema run by film drector, Ventura Pons. Recently voted the best little cinema in Europe, all seats only 3€ during the week and only 4€ at weekends. Here's a link to a write-up by Carlos Domeque at Spotted by Locals: HERE. All movies are in original language with Catalan subtitles.Here's the official website: LINK .
Art, Design & Photography
Galería H2O at the top end of Carrer Verdi. LINK.
Anne Frank — sited on the canopy of Centre Artesà Tradicionàrius in Plaça Anne Frank. Write-up HERE.
The Pigeon Girl in Plaça del Diamant. Write-up HERE.
Model Railway Exhibit
Barcelona en Miniatura — a lovingly crafted animated diorama of Barcelona as it was in the 1930s. Only open on Sundays between 11am and 2pm. FREE ADMISSION for youngsters aged 12 and under. Grown-ups: 3€. Plaça del Nord. LINK.