El Born, Barcelona
The Born, also known as "El Borne" or "El Born" is a small, dense district wedged between Parc de la Ciutadella and Via Laietana.
This entire portion of the center city was once known as "La Ribera", "the shore", as the port once reached all the way to its edge. But, with the rising popularity of its southern blocks, realtors and residents alike began referring to the more gentrified area as "El Born" for the "Passeig de Born", a quaint, elegant paseo that defines the area.
When I first visited Barcelona in 2005, the area was definitely on the rise, but remained a largely overlooked artists' district. Nowadays, it's much the same as New York's SoHo or Boston's Newbury Street - it's very expensive and very chic. Yes, the bait shop remains, as does the occasional laundromat, but it's mostly inhabited by Tascón, Hugo Boss, El Ganso and a phalanx of Gelatarias.
And tourists, tourists, tourists.
That said, it has not reached the tipping point of the Barrí Gotíc. Yes there are a lot of rented bikes and pink faced people in fanny packs - but it is widely considered the best gastronomic district in the city and nights out you will hear Spanish or Catalan more than any other language. It's just as overrun by the locals when it comes time to entertain. And, as you move north towards Via Princesa, the crowds thin and the labyrinth of narrow streets brings you right back to medieval Barcelona in the span of only a few blocks.
Fondest memory: Weekend nights the Paseo practically explodes with activity. "Botellon"(outdoor drinking) is in great supply regardless of its prohibition, and the bars and lounges along the plaza fill with young singles. The stalwart "El Born" tavern with it's mini-attic attracts local businessmen by day and a varied crowd by night, giving it a bit more authenticity than its competitors.
Whereas the front plaza of Santa Maria del Mar is thronged with tourists, the alleyways winding towards "La Ribera" are more subdued. Indeed a few quaint spots on Banys Vells are usually desolate(Suaida, for instance) if you're looking for some peace and quiet.
Running up to Carrer de Carders you'll find a more local crowd and the Plaça Sant Cugat which offers fine outdoor terrazas and people watching.
C. Montcada is a clusterf*ck due to the many museums that line it. It's quaint, but frustrating, as well.
You have to try the first FISH SPA in BARCELONA!!!
This is amazing!
Little fishes (Garra Rufas) doing a massage/ pedicure!
Its in a cute hairsalon, in a cosy room behind they offer this exciting treatment!
Have a look at www.axelharrira.com or fishspa-barcelona.com
well to endorse previous responses. I prefer not to wear short shorts. cropped/capri pants are comfy and dont show (in my case) the ravages of time apparent on certain body parts ha ha!
Also, this choice of clothing is appropriate for any sightseeing/restaurant-going. When discovering this 'amazing city' (alter ego's words) you can expect to visit a diversity of places. Churches/cathedrals/museums restaurants etc all in a day, so its best to encompass it all.
Fondest memory: It has to be the Parc Ciutadella.
Near the Estacion Francia is where you can visit it. Especially on Sundays when most of the locals make a sort of ritual 'en famille' through the gardens. Boating lake/heavily ornated fountain (fantastic especially when water display is in operation)
All ages go there to relax at any time of day. Students/friends, all ages out to enjoy the tranquility and ambience of the place (the only noise to be heard is the sound of animated conversation) but that isn't a noise!!
Zoo can be accessed here, so something for the children.
The Catalan parliament building is housed on the edge of and within the Ciutadella, nect to an area with high hedging encircling a shallow pool where
the fascinating colours of dragonflies can be seen in abundance. (it'there that my husbands ashes were scattered in February 2008)
The districts of La Ribera and El Born lie east of the Barri Gotic quarter and are currently the hippest parts of town. Home to numerous trendy bars and restaurants, this is a lively area with a history dating back to the early 13th century. An exploration of its narrow streets is mandatory and you may well fall in love with this part of Barcelona as I did.
The main draw card in the area is probably the Museu Picasso, located in five continuous stone mansions - which make even a visit just to the outside worthwhile. The museum is located on the medieval Carrer de Montcada which is the ancient heart of the district, and is lined with majestic houses.
Head down to Passeig del Born, which was Barcelona's main square from the 13th-18th centuries, and is these days lined with bars, making this a busy and noisy part of town.
Fondest memory: Just up the slope you will find Barcelona's finest Gothic church, Esglesia de Santa Maria del Mar, which was built in the 14th century. Also check out the nearby intriguing Eternal Flame.
Wind your way up through the north of La Ribera and you may come across the tiny Capella d'en Marcus with its unusual altar. You will probably spy the undulating roof of the Mercat de Santa Caterina, a modern food market, and stop by for a closer look.
Continue on to the Palau de la Musica Catalana - a concert hall created using modernista architecture, which is now a UNESCO world heritage sight.
Take some time out to relax in the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella, with its children-pleasing cascade fountain and woolly mammoth, or perhaps the kids (and mums!) would prefer a visit to the nearby Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate Museum). Mmmmm....chocolate!