Barcelona: Places to Explore

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Upper Barcelona

Sarrià was originally a medieval country village overlooking Barcelona from the foothills of the Collserola. Gradually swallowed up over the centuries by the westward-encroaching city, Sarrià has become a haven for petit-bourgeois merchants, writers, and artists, as well as a home for many Barcelona schools occupying what were once summer mansions for the city's commercial leaders.

St. Eulàlia, Barcelona's co-patroness, is always described as "the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Sarrià merchant," a reminder of Sarrià's perennially well-off citizenry. J.V. Foix, the famous Catalan poet, is an honored citizen here, his descendants the proprietors of Sarrià's two famous Foix pastry shops. Now largely a pedestrian sanctuary, Sarrià still retains much of its village atmosphere, although it is just 15 minutes by the Generalitat train from the Rambla. The miniature original town houses sprinkled through Sarrià are a reminder of the not-so-distant past, when this enclave was an even more bougainvillea-festooned eddy at the edge of Barcelona's roaring urban torrent.

Pedralbes clings to the beginnings of the Collserola hills above Sarrià, a neighborhood of mansions scattered around the 14th-century Monestir de Pedralbes (Pedralbes Monastery). Peripheral points of interest include some of Gaudí's most memorable works, including the Pavellons de la Finca Güell on Avinguda de Pedralbes, Torre Bellesguard above Plaça de Sant Gervasi, and the Teresianas convent and school. The Palau Reial de Pedralbes is a 20-minute walk downhill on the Diagonal (just behind the Finca Güell gate and the Càtedra Gaudí), while the Futbol Club Barcelona's monstrous, 98,000-seat Nou Camp sports complex and museum are another 20 minutes' walk down below the Hotel Princesa Sofia on the Diagonal.

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