Vila de GràciaApril 21, 2021
Barcelona’s Coolest Suburb
When people talk about Gràcia it is really the Vila de Gràcia – the historic old centre – that they are referring to.
Until the 16th century, what we now know as Gràcia was little more than a few scattered farmhouses in open fields located on the hills above Barcelona.
Following the building of a few convents, including els Josepets, the area became the first place that rich Barcelonans chose to build second homes and second residences on the outskirts of the city.
At the start of the 19th century, with the arrival of the industrial revolution, Gràcia became one of the most important areas of the Pla de Barcelona and was constituted as an independent town in 1850.
By 1877, the town had a population of 33,000 and as the building of the Eixample began to connect Gràcia with the rest of Barcelona, the idea that Gràcia should be reincorporated into the city started to gather strength.
Work on Passeig de Gràcia, connecting the town with Ciutat Vella and La Rambla, began in 1880 and Gràcia was reincorporated as a suburb of Barcelona in 1897.
By then the population was 62,000 and as Gràcia’s famous streets and squares began to take shape, the opening of the markets – Mercat de la Llibertat and Mercat de l’Abacería Central – provided a focus for the new town.
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The Vila de Gràcia has always had an active political and social life and is home to a number of iconic institutions, such as the Orfeo Gracienc and the Club Excursionista de Gràcia.
The main streets of Gran de Gràcia, Torrent de l’Olla and Travessera de Gràcia are always a hive of activity but it is the squares that give Gràcia its unique atmosphere.
My personal favourites have always been Plaça de la Vila, known as Plaça del Rellotge because of the large clock tower in the middle, and Plaça del Sol but there are many more.
The way Gràcia is laid out makes it ideal for street parties and La Festa Major de Gràcia, which is held in the week around August 15th, is the most important popular festival in Barcelona after Les Festes de la Mercè.
The competition for the Best Decorated Street is always hard fought and big stages are set up in the major squares offering some of the best bands around.
The processions are always brilliant as Gràcia has important Colles of Gegants and Diables and Castells are ably represented by the Colla Vella de Gràcia and the Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia as well as invited colles.