Barri Gràcia, Barcelona
The Plaça del Diamant is not a very touristy place. In fact, tucked away in Gràcia, you aren’t likely to assign it any specific importance compared to the other little squares in the neighbourhood. You might notice, however, a statue of a woman in anguish, made from bronze, in one of the corners of the Plaça. This is in recognition of the novel Plaça del Diamant by Mercè Rodoreda, one of the great Catalan writers of the 20th century. Actually, I’ve never read the book – I’ve only seen the movie. I started the book, but it just wasn’t the type that interested me (there are plenty of parts missing from the movie, and I suspect the reason is that censors deemed those parts of the book to be unacceptable for audiences). A large theme in the movie/book (I assume this is a prominent theme in the book too) is the suffering of women through the Civil War and afterwards, and the humiliation inflicted upon those whose only desire was to live free and Catalan. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the Plaça del Diamant and similar squares throughout Gràcia are the meeting points for hundreds of fiercely pro-Catalan youth who challenge social mores and authority. Even if you’re not interested in Catalan culture and the anti-Franco movements of the middle of the last century, Plaça del Diamant is still great to visit – after all, the coffee is good and the atmosphere far more relaxed than along the Rambles.
This square is located in upper gracia quarter not far away from Verdi street one of the most populars in the area. Its a quiet square in winter but so frequented in spring, summer and fall due to the excellent location and piles of terraces to drink under umbrellas..
A place well hidden in one of narrow Gracia's streets. Full of character, it escapes definition although the owner, Steve, will tell you that it's an Irish club (not pub!). Stays open until the last guest leaves, which is rarely before 7am. If you're claustrophobic, don't go - it's very, very, very small. But the miniature size is a part of its charm, and I'd warmly recommend it to all likeminded freaks outhere!
This isn't too far off the beaten path, but a little. If you're in the Gothic Quarter, you'll likely visit the famous Cathedral. As well you should, it's a beautiful church inside and out. There is no fee to enter but they do ask that you dress and act appropriately. Services are still carried out here so keep that in mind while inside.
My tip is something that I stumbled on while walking around inside the church on my last visit. There's a not-so-obvious elevator, off to the left side - that sends you up to the rooftop for a 2 Euro 'donation'. Given it's location right in the heart of Barcelona, it's not a bad deal. It seemed to me that this wasn't something everyone was aware of, unlike say, the lift to the top of Notre Dame in Paris. The rooftop here was fairly empty, at least on the day I visited. And as for the view itself, well, it isn't Montjuic but it ain't bad.
El Barri de Gràcia is one of the liveliest neighborhoods in BCN. It was an independent town before the city walls were tore down in order to build the modern city but now it is comprised within the city boundaries. However, it still retains a 'little town' atmosphere and a quite bohemian flair. It is full of narrow streets, food markets, little shops and lovely squares which invite to drink a coffee and chat with the locals in the many open air terraces. You can see more pictures in the travelogue.
Festa Major de Gràcia.
This is the annual festival of the neighborhood of Gracia called Festa Major (literally, the biggest party) from august 14th to 21st.
A lot of streets in the neighborhood are decorated, or should I say, they are in disguise. All along the year the streets comittees works for the preparation of this ornaments, following each one a main subject of their own choice.
There are also a lot of events, by day and night, all of them for free.
Please see some pictures in my travelogue of Gracia 2002.
More information on: http://www.festamajordegracia.org