Barcelona: Places to Explore

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Gràcia

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Gràcia is a state of mind. More than a neighborhood, it is a village republic that has periodically risen in armed rebellion against city, state, and country, whose jumble of streets have names (Llibertat, Fraternitat, Progrès, Venus) that suggest the ideological history of this fierce little nucleus of working-class citizens and progress. Today Gràcia has a young, hip vibe, a rolling street party well endowed with cinema, terrace cafés, and restaurants.

The site of Barcelona's first collectivized manufacturing operations (i.e., factories) provided a dangerous precedent as workers organized and developed into radical groups ranging from anarchists to feminists to Esperantists. Once an outlying town that joined the municipality of Barcelona only under duress, Gràcia attempted to secede from the Spanish state in 1856, 1870, 1873, and 1909.

Lying above the Diagonal from Carrer de Còrsega all the way up to Park Güell, Gràcia's lateral borders run along Via Augusta and Balmes to the west and Carrer de l'Escorial and Passeig de Sant Joan to the east. Today the area is filled with appealing bars and restaurants, movie theaters, and outdoor cafés—always alive and usually thronged by young couples in the throes of romantic ecstasy or agony of one kind or another. Mercé Rodoreda's famous novel La Plaça del Diamant (translated by the late David Rosenthal as The Time of the Doves) begins and ends in Gràcia's square of the same name during the August Festa Major, a festival that fills the streets with the rank-and-file residents of this always lively yet intimate little pocket of general resistance to Organized Life.

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