Barcelona: Places to Explore

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Sant Pere and La Ribera

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The textile and waterfront neighborhoods are studded with some of the city's most iconic buildings, ranging from the Gothic 14th-century basilica of Santa Maria del Mar to the over-the-top Moderniste Palau de la Música Catalana. Over at the Museu Picasso, works of the 20th-century master are displayed in five adjoining Renaissance palaces.

Sant Pere, Barcelona's old textile neighborhood, is centered on the church of Sant Pere. A half-mile closer to the port, the Barri de la Ribera and the former market of El Born, now known as the Born-Ribera district, formed the headquarters for Catalonia's great maritime and economic expansion of the 13th and 14th centuries. Surrounding the basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, the Born-Ribera area includes Carrer Montcada, lined with 14th- to 18th-century Renaissance palaces; Passeig del Born, where medieval jousts were held; Carrer Flassaders and the area around the early mint; the shop- and restaurant-rich Carrer Banys Vells; Plaça de les Olles; and Pla del Palau, where La Llotja, Barcelona's early maritime exchange, housed the fine-arts school where Picasso, Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner, and all of Barcelona's artists and architects studied.

La Ribera began a revival in the 1980s, and with its intimate bars, cafés, taverns, and shops, it continues to gain ground as one of city's hottest spots. El Born, the onetime central market of Barcelona, now offers a fascinating view of pre-1714 Barcelona, dismantled by the victorious troops of Felipe V at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. The Passeig del Born, considered the Rambla of medieval Barcelona has once again taken its place as one the city's hubs.

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