Upmarket Residences and an Extraordinary Monastery

Extending up the hill  to your right as you leave Barcelona along Diagonal, Pedralbes was part of the village of Sarrià until 1984 and now is one of the three neighbourhoods comprising Les Corts District.

The name, originally Petras Albas or Dawn Stones because of the colour of the surrounding rock, was first documented in 986 AD.

However, residential development of the area didn't really begin until the 20th century.

The obvious exception to this is the Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes, was founded by Elisenda de Montcada, the fourth wife of Jaume II, here on the edge of the Collserola massif in 1326.

The monastery, which is now considered one of the finest examples of Catalan Gothic architecture, includes a museum and church and was occupied by nuns of the French Poor Clares Order.


Getting to Know Pedralbes

Today, Pedralbes is an upmarket residential area made up of large mansions surrounded by walled gardens with select residences along Avinguda Pearson and close to Parc de l'Oreneta.

There are also fine houses along Avinguda de Pedralbes, the most famous of which is the Finca Guëll, which was owned by the Güell family of rich Catalan industrialists.

In 1884, Eusebi Güell employed a young Antoni Gaudí to work on the pavillions at the entrance and amongst other things Gaudí produced an extraordinary wrought iron dragon to adorn the gates.

Another of Eusebi Güell's projects was the now Palau Reial de Pedralbes on Avinguda Diagonal, which was intended to be the central building of a garden city.

The project failed so Güell donated the palace to the Spanish Royal Family and it became their official residence in Barcelona from 1919 to 1931.

Today, the gardens of the Palau Reial are home to the excellent Jardins de Pedralbes Music Festival, which brings an impressive array of international and Spanish artists to Pedralbes every June and July.

In complete contrast, at the western edge of the neighbourhood you find the small barri now known as La Mercè.

This originally 123 protected houses created by the Instituto Nacional de la Vivienda under the Franco Regime in 1946 as Las Cinco Rosas as a reference to one of the main symbols of the fascist Falange organisation.

Pedralbes is also home to the lovely Parc de Cervantes, which occupies 9 hectares along Avinguda Diagonal next to the University of Barcelona's Campus Nord, built in the early 1990s.

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