This is the westernmost district of Barcelona, as well as one of the largest. It is comprised of the “Sants” neighborhood, among a couple others, around the train station by the same name, “Sants Estació,” as well as the “Montjuïc” area, which lies just south of Plaça Espanya and Pral-lel and is home of the museum of art, including the beautiful grounds around it, and Castle Montjuïc, which is an old fortification overlooking the Mediterranean. The district also extends down to the water, which includes the port and industrial area known as Zona Franca.
So let’s start with the Sants area first. There are some good places to live around here, but a large part of the district around the Carrer de la Creu Coberta (aka Carretera Nacional N-340,) which is rather grimy and not well maintained. That said, there are more options for affordable housing here, plus it offers several other options to go and hang out. Such is the case with the narrow streets behind the train station, which are lined with shops, eateries, and a great vibe. The area around the Carrer Joan Güell is especially nice and relatively quiet. Also, having the train station nearby provides a great advantage for public transit to the airport, downtown, and regional train service to the surrounding cities. In addition, there are fast trains to Madrid, Valencia, and even Paris.
There is an elevated park, somewhat reminiscent of the Highline in New York. The park starts at Placeta de Ramon Torres i Casanova and runs south for about a kilometer and a half. It is a great place to go strolling, walk your dog, hang out or rollerblade. There are no places adjacent to the park to go and eat so pack a lunch if you want to sit and eat something. Starting at a couple of blocks away, however, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to stop by for a bite.
Just five streets up from the Placeta, on Carrer de Joan Güell, is the Jardins de Can Mantega, which is a great park. It has a playground for the kids, as well as a dog run/area (read more under our Pets/Dogs Section). The park is well maintained and rather large and open. There are also lots of adjacent eateries, should you get hungry or thirsty. Additionally, if you walk west from the park on Carrer de Rosés for about two blocks you will find a public garden called L’Horta Alliberada. It is a great space where the neighbors grow fruits and vegetables for personal consumption, but there is also a play area for kids. A must see!!! And just to the north of the park, you will run into Carrer de Madrid, which runs east-west and is the border between the Sants and Les Corts districts. You can read more about the latter in one of our other articles.
There is another large park with artificial ponds right behind Sants Estació called Parc de l’Espanya Industrial. It has playgrounds for kids, some snack shops, including a snack bar with a large covered area with chairs. It is located right across from the playground, so you can sit and have a coffee, beer or soda while you watch your kids play. The playground and snack bar are located just north of Carrer de Muntadas. It is a great place to hang out, even if you don’t have a kid at the playground while there.
The Montjuïc area is less populated since a large part of it is open park area, such as the grounds around the Olympic village, the fountain and museum, Montjuīc castle and the port. However, there is a small neighborhood tucked between Paral-lel and the museum area called Poble Sec. This neighborhood feels like a small old town. The streets are narrow and there is a lot packed in there, such as apartment buildings, shops, restaurants, a firemen’s museum, and lots more. Some of the locals will say that the area is rather “change,” which in Spanish means “working class” bordering on “low class.” However, in my experience, the district has a lot to offer, such as the great and diverse places to eat on Paral-lel, which is the border between Poble Sec and the EL Raval neighborhoods to the north. Therefore, the southern half of Paral-lel is Poble Sec, while the northern half is El Raval. On the Poble Sec side of Paral-lel you will see some theatres, should you want to catch a play in Catalan.
Also, deep in the Poble Sec neighborhood, you’ll find the Insitut del Teatre de Barcelona, the Mercat de les Flors and the Teatre Lliure de Montjuïc. These centers offer classes and performances in theatre, dance (mostly modern) and other performing arts. They are located around the Carrer de la França Xica and Carrer de Lleida area. In addition, just up the road, there is the Teatre Grec, which has some very avant-garde classes and performances.
If you are a fan of cemeteries, which my partner is, do not miss a trip to the “Cemeteri de Montjuïc.” There are the usual graveyards you find in most cemeteries, though some are very ornate, plus there are crypts staked 5 –high which are the resting places for more than a million deceased locals. More on this topic in our XYZ section. And just to the west of the cemetery, you will run into the Memorial de los Victimas del Nazismo, which is located in a small valley and was well-designed, as well as being quite moving.