The neighbourhood of Sant Martí de Provençals is the historic centre of what was once one of the most important towns on the Barcelona plain, which dates back to at least 1052 and was centred around the church of Sant Martí de Tours.
This church has been rebuilt many times over the centuries and is the origin of the present church of Sant Martí El Vell, which you can see below.
Until the 1950s, as well as the church there were masias - Can Planas, Ca l'Arnó, Can Riera, Can Cadena - here set in fields where farming was the main activity.
The areas agricultural tradition had been immortalised by famous Catalan painters such as Nonell, Mir and Pichot at the end of the 19th century.
Like many other Barcelona neighbourhoods, all this changed with the massive influx of Spanish immigrants in the 1950s.
The first housing projects were constructed along the Rambla de Guipúscoa by La Caixa de Pensions and l'Obra Sindical del Hogar.
In 1958, a local urbanisation plan brought more unplanned building work and a higher population density without any provisions for services and facilities.
Since the return of democracy in 1975, much has improved but the area will obviously never recuperate its rural past.
The painting below is Isidre Nonell's Capvespre a Sant Martí de Provençals - Dusk at Sant Martí - which was painted in 1896 and gives an idea of how much this part of Barcelona has changed in the last century.
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