Although it’s hard to believe, Barcelona allows you to do tourism without the crowds, while enjoying places that exude beauty, history … and tranquility. Yes, you read correctly: in the Catalan capital, it is possible to admire streets and buildings without other visitors around. The secret? Get away from the center, get a daily public travel card and prepare to discover old villas, parishes and monuments capable of making the traveler fall in love.
It has cost us to elaborate this list, since the options are almost endless. However, we have chosen those little-known places in Barcelona that, due to their uniqueness and attractiveness, will leave you in awe. You will not find a better way to make the most of your stay in our apartments next to the beach of Barcelona!
Santa Eulàlia de Vilapicina
The neighborhood of Vilapicina and Torre Llobeta, in the district of Nou Barris, hides a small jewel that will make you travel back in time. It is the church of Santa Eulàlia de Vilapicina, a shrine of 1782 and documented since 991. This interesting construction, which is located next to an imposing arch, was declared a Historic Site in 1971 and cataloged as a cultural asset of local interest , along with the farmhouse of Can Basté -that now houses a civic center-, the old hostel of Ca n’Artès and two picturesque townhouses. Inside the church, the chapel of Santíssim is preserved, located inside of the late Romanesque church.
After years of neglect, a group of seminarians promoted the restoration of the complex at the end of the 1960s. The works, completed in 2004, served to recover the bell tower and the central nave, which had collapsed.
To get there, go to the Virrei Amat subway stop (line 5).
The Rose Tower
Located in the neighborhood of Congrés and els Indians, in the district of Sant Andreu, this spectacular cocktail bar -considered as one of the best in Barcelona- opens its doors at Villa Jazmines (1920), an imposing Indian house designed by the architect Ferran Tarragó and owned by José Racionero, who lived there until the 1950s. From then on, he went on to host the Practical Academy of Commerce, before becoming a private nursery school until the mid-eighties. Since 1987, it has accommodated a pleasant cocktail bar with a terrace, where it is possible to taste delicious gin and tonics in the shade of almost century-old trees.
The nearest metro stop is Congrés (L-5), although you can also get there with buses 19, 45, 47 and 50 and night buses N1, N4 and N6.
If you love to get familiar with the ways of life of the past, you can not miss the street of Aiguafreda, a unique space in the neighborhood of Horta that seems to have stopped in time. Its most representative element is the presence of orchards, water wells and public laundries in front of each house. Although these constructions are popularly known as the washerwoman’s houses, the truth is that the women who worked professionally did not live in the area, but this work was performed by the housewives of the neighborhood.
Of course: it is documented that, from the beginning of the seventeenth century until well into the twentieth century, much of the clothes of well-to-do people in Barcelona washed in Horta, whose washer women picked up dirty clothes on Mondays and returned them clean on Saturdays.
The nearest metro stop is Horta (L-5).
We are not leaving yet the Horta-Guinardó district, since this old independent town has another place that is worth contemplating. We refer to Martí-Codolar, a seventeenth-century farmhouse that today accommodates a residence and a Salesian farm.
Known in the past as the Granja Vella, it was transformed into a noble neoclassical house at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1852, Joaquim Martí i Codolar ordered the construction of gardens and a pond. After his death, which occurred in 1865, his son created some pavilions and the first zoo in Barcelona, which in 1892 was acquired by the City Council. Among its visitors are the kings Fernando VII and Alfonso XIII.
The farm is located between the stops of Montbau (L-3) and Horta (L-5). Of course: before you go, contact the residence to arrange a visit.
Font de la Guatlla
Located in the highest part of the Montjuïc mountain skirt and next to the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, the Font de la Guatlla one of the most atypical neighborhoods of Barcelona. Its streets are dotted with a diverse set of houses built at different times of the 20th century, and which continue to arouse the visitor’s curiosity. In the past, it had been a rural area near Barcelona and the old town of Sants, now a neighborhood, with some scattered farmhouses surrounded by fields. However, this changed with industrialization.
One of its most special enclaves is the so-called Pas de Valls, an area formed by two rows of simple, traditional-style low houses. These were occupied in the twenties by mostly Galician workers, who came to work on the works of the International Exposition of 1929, held a few meters away. Currently, the Pas de Vallas is still home to 39 families. By the way: it is an ideal place to contemplate the mountain range of Collserola in the distance.
To get to the Font de la Guatlla, the most appropriate stop is the square (or plaça) of Espanya (L-1 and L-3), in Plaza de Espanya. You can also take buses 23, L95 and L72.
We closed this tour in the Casa de la Seda: a building that, despite being in the heart of the old town and next to the Gothic Quarter (or Gòtic), does not usually appear in travel guides. An authentic injustice, since this claim played a fundamental role in the Barcelona economy. In fact, on the main floor, the Barcelona Shipyard Association adopted important decisions for the Catalan textile sector more than 300 years ago. In the Magna Room, you will discover its best kept secret, surrounded by a luxurious decoration. And if you wish, you can also sign up for a theatrical guided tour.
To access this emblematic point, get off at the Jaume I metro stop (L-4), which belongs to the same line as Poblenou, the station closest to our apartments next to the sea.
What do you think about this alternative route through Barcelona? If you want to complete it, and show that the city is much more than the Sagrada Familia, the Ramblas or the Raval, do not hesitate to send us your suggestions: we welcome them with open arms!