Just across La Meridiana from Sant Andreu, Porta is the Nou Barris neighbourhood best located for Barcelona city centre and, given its excellent shopping and sports facilities, is also the area that offers most reasons to visit.
It was once agricultural land on the outskirts of Sant Andreu del Palomar, which became the site for the new Sant Andreu cemetery in 1839.
From then on, houses and workshops sprang up around the cemetery and the area took on the shape of a separate neighbourhood throughout the rest of the 19th century, which was separated from the rest of Sant Andreu first by the railway line and then La Meridiana.
Although you still find buildings such as Can Verdaguer that hark back to Porta's rural past, just like the rest of Nou Barris, the neighbourhood was badly affected by the building of numerous blocks of flats in the 1960s.
The high rise constructions around Can Dragó, however, are much better planned.
The Can Dragó sports complex, which covers 12 hectares and includes full size running tracks, soccer pitches, an outdoor swimming pool (shown below) and an urban park, has been a fantastic addition to the surrounding area.
However, for me at least, the centre of the neighbourhood has always been Plaça Soller with its bar terraces and impressive sculpture by Xavier Corberó.
Furthermore, the modernisation of the main avenues of Nou Barris at the end of the 1990s included the streets that mark the perimeters of the neighbourhood - Passeig Fabra i Puig, Pi i Molist, Passeig Verdun and Passeig Valldaura.
Together with the section of Passeig Fabra i Puig that runs up from Meridiana, the Heron City shopping centre and the massive El Corte Inglés department store, all make Porta one of the best shopping areas in Barcelona.
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