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The village of Sarrià was originally a cluster of farms and country houses overlooking Barcelona from the hills. Once dismissively described as "Sarrià: winds, brooks, and convents," this quiet enclave is now a haven at the upper edge of the roaring metropolis. Start an exploration at the square, which hosts an antiques and crafts market on Tuesday morning, sardana dances on Sunday morning, and Christmas fairs in season. The Romanesque church tower, lighted a glowing ocher at night, looms overhead. Across Passeig Reina Elisenda from the church (50 yards to the left), wander through the brick-and-steel hangar produce market and the tiny, flower- and bougainvillea-choked Plaça Sant Gaietà just behind it. For a quick tour of upper Sarrià, walk behind the market along the cobbled Carrer Pare Miquel de Sarrià to Major de Sarrià, turn uphill to the left and then right into Carrer Graus. A left on Carrer Avió Plus Ultra will take you past Sarrià's most wisteria- and ivy-covered house (on the right) and past the studio of floral artisan Flora Miserachs in the ancient village house at No. 21. Loop around to the left back into Major de Sarrià and walk back down past the tiny old village houses at Nos. 188 and 126 (the latter with the year 1694 engraved in the stone over the door) to return to Plaça Sarrià.
Cut through the Placeta del Roser to the left of the church to the elegant town hall in the Plaça de la Vila; note the buxom bronze sculpture of Pomona, goddess of fruit, by famed Sarrià sculptor Josep Clarà (1878-1958). At the corner of Major de Sarrià, go back to the Pomona bronze and turn left into tiny Carrer dels Paletes. The saint displayed in the niche is Sant Antoni, patron saint of bricklayers (paletes). You'll come out on Major de Sarrià. Continue down this pedestrian-only street and turn left into bougainvillea- and honeysuckle-clad Carrer Canet, with its diminutive, cottagelike artisans' quarters. The tiny houses at Nos. 15, 21, and 23 are some of the few remaining original village houses in Sarrià. Turn right at the first corner on Carrer Cornet i Mas and walk two blocks down to Carrer Jaume Piquet.
On the left is No. 30, Barcelona's most perfect small-format Moderniste house, thought to be the work of architect Domènech i Montaner, complete with faux-medieval upper windows, wrought-iron grillwork, floral and fruited ornamentation, and organically curved and carved wooden doors either by or inspired by Gaudí himself. The next stop down Cornet i Mas is Sarrià's prettiest square, Plaça Sant Vicens, a leafy space ringed by old Sarrià houses and centered on a statue of Sarrià's patron, St. Vincent, portrayed, as always, beside the millstone used to sink him to the bottom of the Mediterranean after he was martyred in Valencia in 302. Can Pau, the café on the lower corner with Carrer Mañé i Flaquer, is the local hangout, a good place for coffee and once a haven for authors Gabriel García Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, who lived in Sarrià in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Other Sarrià landmarks to look for include the two Foix pastry stores, one at Plaça Sarrià 9-10 and the other at Major de Sarrià 57, above Bar Tomás. Both have excellent pastries, breads, and cold cava (Catalan sparkling wine). The late J.V. Foix (1893-1987), son of the store's founders, was one of the great Catalan poets of the 20th century, a key player in keeping the Catalan language alive during the 40-year Franco regime. The Plaça Sarrià Foix, a good spot for homemade ice cream, has a bronze bust of the poet, whereas the Major de Sarrià location has a bronze plaque identifying the house as the poet's birthplace and inscribed with one of his most memorable verses, translated as, "Every love is latent in the other love/every language is the juice of a common tongue/every country touches the fatherland of all/every faith will be the lifeblood of a higher faith."
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