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Sagrada Familia

A Residential Barri with AaFamous Name

Just on the other side of the Dreta de l'Eixample, the Sagrada Familia neighbourhood is inevitably best known for Antoni Gaudí's magnificent cathedral but is actually a vibrant barri in its own right.

Until the middle of the 19th century, apart the odd farmhouse, the area was agricultural land located between Sant Martí del Provençals and the City of Barcelona.

During the 1860s, this area became known as El Poblet and was little more than a cluster of shacks set in open fields along what is now Carrer Valencia between Passeig Sant Joan and Carrer de la Marina.

In 1897, Sant Martí became part of Barcelona and El Poblet became known as Sagrada Familia after the temple that was under construction in the area.

However, it wasn't until after the Spanish Civil War that the neighbourhood began to be fully urbanised.



The Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Family, better known as La Sagrada Familia, was projected in 1881 to atone for the sins of Barcelona and the original architect, Francesc de Paula Villar, began a much less ambitious project.

Antoni Gaudí took over in 1883, when he was on 31 and worked on the temple for the rest of his life.

The Sagrada Familia is not only a symbol of Barcelona but also the most visited monument in Spain and the best known example of the architectural style known as Modernisme.

Linking the church with another iconic Modernista building, Domènech i Montaner's Hospital de Sant Pau in neighbouring El Guinardó, Avinguda Gaudí cuts diagonally through the barri breaking the regimented grid pattern of the Eixample.

This lovely avenue was opened in 1927, the year after Gaudí's death, and in 1985 became mainly pedestrian and today is a great place to stop for a drink or go for a meal.

Also installed in 1985, the modernista lamp posts by Pere Falqués which line the avenue date from 1909 and had originally been located at the junction of Passeig de Gràcia and La Diagonal.

Today the barri of Sagrada Familia is a pleasant residential neighbourhood with some nice arty features.

I particularly like the giant Balcones de Barcelona mural of Catalan eminences in Plaça de la Hispanitat and the fact that the local market occupies the building of the old General Motors factory is a nice touch.

What's more the marvellous Encants flea market is right in the corner of the neighbourhood close to Plaça de les Glòries - apparently it's even better now it has moved to its new covered premises!



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