If you have ever been to Barcelona, you will have seen the Passeig de Gràcia. It is the heart of the city and one of its busiest and most cosmopolitan streets. There is 24-hour hustle and bustle along this 1.3 kilometre avenue. It is also known by the locals as the richest street in Barcelona, it is also known by the locals as the richest street in Barcelona, as it has the most expensive shops, hotels and restaurants. Likewise renting an office, shop or flat here is only for the upper class! So, what is the story behind this famous avenue? Are you ready to come on a trip with us on a Renfe-SNCF in Cooperation train to Barcelona?
How it all started
Can you even imagine that this wide, magnificent street was once merely just a dirt track that was used by farmers to go from Barcelona to Gràcia, which were two different villages back then? It even had a different name, Camí de Jesús which means Jesus’s Road. As a very Catholic city at that time, all the streets had religious names. Due to a very liberal urbanisation project in 1824, the avenue was widened to 42 metres and became a popular place for the rich and influential people of Barcelona to come with their impressive horses and horse-drawn carriages.
Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona
Even still, the Passeig was not as luxurious as we see it today. On the contrary, it was quite plain. In 1906, a local architect called Pere Falqués i Urpí designed the beautiful benches and ornaments that we can still enjoy today while browsing the shops. With this trendy change, the street became the most fashionable place to be seen in Barcelona.
‘La Manzana de la Discordia’ is perhaps home to some of the most beautiful modernist buildings in the world
When modernism came into fashion, one of the first places to take on this new art style was Passeig de Gràcia. The most famous modernism architects designed amazing, magical buildings. One of the most famous of these was Antoni Gaudí, a genius and such a creative mind. A wealthy businessman in the textile industry, Josep Batlló bought the Casa Batlló and gave Gaudí free range to do pretty much whatever he wanted with the house. He wanted to show off and to stand out on what was then an extremely competitive street.
You will probably know some of Gaudí´s other pieces
of art like La Pedrera (Casa Milà) and, of course, one of the most visited monuments in Spain, the Sagrada Familia.
Despite being a technological city, Barcelona retains its architectural facades of great cultural value.
Since the Art Noveau period, Barcelona has not stopped evolving and expanding. The neighbourhoods got bigger, Barcelona got wider and wider and more people flocked in from various regions of Spain and not only. In the last years, Passeig de Gràcia became the most luxurious avenue in Barcelona with the arrival of luxury shops, five-star hotels, and several Michelin starred restaurants.