Barcelona: Places to Explore

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La Ciutadella and Barceloneta

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Now Barcelona's central downtown park, La Ciutadella was originally the site of a fortress built by the conquering troops of the Bourbon monarch Felipe V after the fall of Barcelona in the 1700-14 War of the Spanish Succession. Barceloneta is the traditional fishermen's quarter, a saltier (and sometimes seedier) Mediterranean getaway from the city.

Barceloneta and La Ciutadella fit together historically and urbanistically, as some 1,000 houses in the Barrio de la Ribera, then the waterfront neighborhood around Plaça del Born, were ordered dismantled by their owners to create fields of fire for La Ciutadella's cannon that kept watch over the rebellious Catalans. Barceloneta, then a marshy wetland, was filled in and developed almost four decades later, in 1753, to compensate families who had lost homes in La Ribera.

Barceloneta has always been a beloved escape from the formality of cosmopolitan Barcelona life, an urban fishing village barcelonins sought for Sunday paella on the beach and a stroll through what feels like a freer, more bohemian ambience. With its tiny original houses, its abundant laundry flapping brightly over the streets, and its history of seafarers and gypsies, Barceloneta remains an enclave of romance with a more spontaneous, carefree flavor.

Open water in Roman times and gradually silted in only after the 15th-century construction of the Barcelona port, Barceloneta is Barcelona's traditional fishing and stevedores' quarter. Originally composed of 15 longitudinal and three cross streets and 329 two-story houses, Barceloneta was Europe's earliest planned urban development, built by the military engineer Juan Martin Cermeño under the command of El Marquès de la Mina, Juan Miguel de Guzmán Dávalos Spinola (1690–1767).

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