• Photo: © Halie Cousineau/ Fodor’s Travel

Upper Barcelona

Sarrià was originally a country village, overlooking Barcelona from the foothills of the Collserola. Eventually absorbed by the westward-expanding city, the village, 15 minutes by FGC commuter train from Plaça de Catalunya, has become a unique neighborhood with at least four distinct populations: the old-timers, who speak only Catalan among themselves, and talk of "going down to Barcelona" to shop; writers, artists and designers, and people in publishing and advertising, drawn here in the 1970s and 1980s by the creative vibe; yuppie starter families, who largely support Sarriá’s gourmet shops and upscale restaurants; and a cadre of expats, who prize the neighborhood for its proximity to the international schools. Sarriá and environs, in fact, have perhaps more schools than any single postal code in Europe, many of them occupying what were once the palatial Moderniste summer homes of the city’s financial and industrial moguls.

Did we mention gourmet shops? J. V. Foix, the famous Catalan poet, was a native son of Sarrià; his father founded what is arguably the best patisserie in Barcelona, and his descendants still run the quintessential Sarrià family business. On Sunday, barcelonins come to the village from all over town; Sunday just wouldn’t be Sunday without a cake from Foix to take to grandma’s. Cross Avinguda Foix from Sarriá and you’re in Pedralbes—the wealthiest residential neighborhood in the city. (Fútbol superstar Leo Messi has his multimillion-euro home here; the exclusive Real Club de Tenis de Barcelona is not far off.) The centerpiece of this district is the 14th-century Monestir (Monastery) de Pedralbes; other points of interest include Gaudí’s Pavellons de la Finca Güell on Avinguda de Pedralbes, and the gardens of the Palau Reial de Pedralbes, a 20-minute walk downhill from the monastery. The Futbol Club Barcelona’s 98,000-seat Camp Nou stadium and museum are another 20 minutes’ walk, down below the Diagonal.

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