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Views from the rooftop terrace at Casa Bonay. Photo: Metrixell Arjalaguer
Views from the rooftop terrace at Casa Bonay. Photo: Metrixell Arjalaguer

Places

Trendy in Barcelona: Passeig de Sant Joan

On Barcelona’s latest trendsetting street, Passeig de Sant Joan, hardly a week goes by without a new bar or restaurant popping up.

The area around Passeig de Sant Joan may be the most fashionable neighborhood in Barcelona right now, but this certainly hasn’t always been the case. While its eye-catching Modernist facades may have drawn in the occasional design and architecture buff, the area had little else going for it. Until now.

The street, which leads up from Barce­lona’s Arc de Triomf to the Gràcia neighborhood, dates back to 1872, when it was designed as part of the urban expansion project for the overcrowded city, which also saw the creation of the Modernist Eixample neighborhood.

The Ciutadella fortress was demolished and a public park (today’s Parc de la Ciutadella) was built in its place. Leading up from the park was a new central artery that was to prolong the existing Salón de St Joan – and so Passeig Sant Joan was born.

Fast-forward to 2016 and what has been known for the last 140-or-so years as a dull, heavily-trafficked residential avenue is now an impressive boulevard bustling with pedestrians and cyclists and lined with outdoor terraces and trendy res­taurants. So what has changed?

First of all, a project to remodel the street, carried out between 2012 and 2013, reduced the number of traffic lanes to make way for wider sidewalks. Meanwhile, one of the city’s busiest bike lanes was moved into the central part of the avenue. And with plenty of space now available for outdoor seating, it didn’t take long for business to pick up.

While other up-and-coming Barcelona neighborhoods such as Poble Nou or Raval are famous for their art galleries and independent boutiques, Passeig Sant Joan is earning a reputation as Barcelona’s new foodie epicenter, a gastronomic point of reference whose only rival is Carrer de Parlament in Sant Antoni.

But whereas Carrer de Parlament has gained a huge bohemian following mainly for its inexpensive tapas bars and vemuterías (vermouth houses), the area around Passeig Sant Joan seems to be courting a slightly more discerning crowd, with its up-market brunch spots, trendy eateries and gourmet food stores, not to mention an extremely stylish boutique hotel.


Text: Isabelle Kliger

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