Barcelona city is bursting with attractions, life and colour, captivating the millions of tourists that visit the city every year. However, there is a neighbourhood just off the beaten tourist track, which is a popular locals hang-out and also appeals to those visitors who are ‘in-the-know’. El Born is a fashionable, yet intimate neighbourhood, where the latest trends are interlaced with 16-17th century architecture.
What’s to see
The main, tree-lined avenue, Passeig de Born was, according to local historians, the main square in Barcelona and where most of the cities festivities and jousts were held. At one end it’s home to one of the most important, and I believe beautiful Gothic churches in Catalonia, the Santa Maria del Mar, also known as the People’s Cathedral. At the other end, it’s the site of the former Mercat del Born, an interior market, which is set in an imposing metal and glass building.
Music lovers should head to the Palau de la Música Catalana (Music Palace). This stunning example of 19th century Catalan architecture is the headquarters of the the ‘Orfeo Catala’, an organisation set up in the 19th century to support and promote Catalan music and culture.
Other cultural attractions residing in El Born include the Picasso Museum and the Textile Museum (the area was once the centre of the textile industry in the city). Both museums are located on Calle Motcada.
If you want to pick up a unique, hip fashion accessory, outfit or pair of shoes, then your sure to find them in El Born. Be forewarned, shopping here isn’t cheap; there are a handful of gorgeous boutique outfits in the neighbourhood, where you will find a one-off piece, not to be copied back in your hometown. Worth it for the fashionistas of the world.
Eating out & nightlife
Stylish tapas (head to El Xampanyet for the best tapas in Barcelona), smarter restaurants, chic cocktails bars and hip music bars and clubs. El Born is definitely a place to head for nocturnal fun; where you can mingle with local residents and enjoy an authentic taste of Barcelonese social culture.
El Born is the home of the Gimlet Bar, which is frequently found on the World’s Best Bar list. A classic cocktail bar where they really do serve the best Manhattan, whisky sour or martini. It’s anonymously full of personalities, but the only thing anyone notices is the sublime cocktail in front of them.
How to get there
You can reach El Born by taking the metro to Barceloneta or Jaume 1, both on the same line. If you feel like a stroll from the city centre, then it’s just a pleasant 10 minute walk away from Las Ramblas