Barcelona’s Olympic Village Neighbourhood
As the name suggests La Vila Olímpica was originally built to house the athletes for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
The Olympic Village was designed by prestigious architects Bohigas-Martorell-Mackay-Puigdomènech with the brief that it would be turned into a residential area once the games were over.
Until work began the site had been occupied by rundown factories and warehouses that had fallen into disuse in the second half of the 20th century.
The slightly pretentious name Icària used on one of the main avenues and the beach refers to a utopian socialist colony set up in the United States by a group of idealistic Barcelonans in the 19th century.
The colony was a disaster and until quite a few years after the Olympic Games, it appeared that the Vila Olímpica housing programme would go the same way.
However, with the establishment of shops, businesses and activities in the last decade, the Vila Olímpica is now a living and breathing Barcelona neighbourhood.
Nestled between the Parc de la Ciutadella and the now thriving and increasingly fashionable neighbourhood of El Poblenou, the wide avenues and modern buildings of the Vila Olímpica make it a pretty pleasant place to live.
It is full of green spaces, such as the Parc de la Nova Icària, and the neighbourhood is also home to the main campus of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona’s third largest university.
This means that there are plenty of young people around making for a dynamic atmosphere.
One of the neighbourhood’s most interesting buildings is the UPF library housed in the Dipòsit de les Aigües, the old water deposit that once supplied the main fountain in the Parc de la Ciutadella.
From an outsider’s point of view, the main reason for getting off the metro here is to visit the seafront, which is overlooked by the two towering Hotel Arts and Torre Mapfre skyscrapers and Frank Gehry’s iconic fish sculpture.
The Port Olímpic was the site of the sailing events during the Olympic Games and now is an urban marina providing berths for small vessels from all over the Mediterranean.
You can also charter vessels from the Port Olímpic and there are a number of excellent sailing schools.
You’ll also find some great restaurants and bars and the Olympic Port is full of discoteques and clubs, which often show live music particularly in summer.
On the far side of the port, you’ll find one of Barcelona’s most family-oriented beaches – La Platja de Nova Icària.
This well-equipped beach has 400 metres of golden sand and a gentle incline into the sea.
Generally a little less busy than La Barceloneta on the other side of the port, the proximity of restaurants and its excellent offer of water sports activities make Nova Icària a great choice.