Sants - Montjuïc District in Barcelona, Spain
Max, originally from Italy, lives in the Sants neighborhood of Barcelona and, with two Catalan sisters Isabel and Cristina, runs The Urban Suites.com, vacation rental apartments in Barcelona. You may see him jogging up Montjuïc when taking a break from work.
Since so much has been written about Barcelona, on the Internet and in travel books and magazines, you probably know a lot about Barcelona, but I will give you an overview.
Barcelona, located on the Mediterranean coast in northern Spain, is the second largest city in Spain (population 1.6 million), the capital of Catalonia (Catalunya) and one of the liveliest cities in Europe. In the last 20 years Barcelona has become one of top European tourist destinations as well as a destination for immigrants from all over Europe.
Modernism, a variant of Art Nouveau, was born in Barcelona in the late 1800s. Gaudí designed many buildings in the Eixample district of Barcelona. Barcelona hosted two World Expositions (1888 and 1929), the 1992 Olympic Games and the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures. The tragic Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939 had a great effect on Barcelona.
Barcelona is still changing. Currently there are more than 300 different areas where people are building and soon there will be a brand new metro line (L-9) and a new train station (La Sagrera) that will link trains from Lisbon or from the south (Madrid and Valencia) with France.
This article tells you about one area of Barcelona that you may not be familiar with - the Sants - Montjuïc district, not as touristed as other parts of Barcelona. Sants is Barcelona's largest neighborhood or barrio, occupying 1/5th of the city. If you look at a map of Barcelona, the Sants neighborhood is on the left side, west of the Old Town and Las Ramblas. All in all, Sants is a quiet, mostly residential area, out of the crowds in the centre but easily accessible to all Barcelona has to offer. It's a good choice for the traveler who wants to be where the locals live, and for families and group of friends that want to relax and enjoy a good walk.
Note that in Barcelona and Catalonia, the Catalan language is spoken (and used for place names in this article). Streets signs are in Catalan.
Getting To Sants
- It's very easy to reach the Sants neighborhood from the El Prat International Airport. From both Terminals (T1 and T2) there are shuttle bus that link with Plaça d'Espanya (first stop) which is the main square in this area (a huge roundabout that links Sants with Montjuïc).
- If you land at Girona Airport (Ryanair uses this airport), a bus will take you to Barcelona Estacio Nord. From there catch the L1 (red) metro and get off at the Espanya stop (also called Plaça d'Espanya).
- If arriving by train, get off at the Barcelona Sants train station, also called Estació de Sants. This is the main train station for Barcelona.
Things to Do and See
The main spot in Sants is the hill of Montjuïc, nearly 700 feet above the port, with a 17th century castle on top. From there you get stunning views of the town and the Mediterranean sea. On Montjuïc there are many attractions to see.
The Estadi Olímpic de Montjuïc (Olympic Stadium) was originally built for the 1936 Olympics but they were cancelled at the start of the Civil War. The building was renovated for the 1992 Olympics. Nearby is Palau Sant Jordi where concerts and events are held during the year.
Not to be missed is the Fundació Joan Miró museum that exhibits a large selection of the works of Miró. Together with Salvador Dali, Joan Miró is one of the most important figures of the surrealist movement.
On the top of Montjuïc is another important museum, the MNAC - Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Catalan Art), which is housed in Palau Nacional, a 1929 landmark that stands out against the Barcelona skyline. The museum can be reached on foot or by elevators.
The Font Màgica (Magic Fountains), a beautiful huge fountain built for the 1929 World Exposition, sits below the MNAC. The fountain contains three concentric circles of water jets and its colours and the power of the water is amazing. During the winter shows are held on Friday and Saturday, 7pm and 9pm, but in summer the shows are almost every day.
Close to Barcelona Sants train station there are two parks:
Parc de l'Espanya Industrial: Created in 1985 in a kind of new-modernist style, this park is a great example of an old textile mill turned into something useful for the local community. In 2009 this Park experienced a huge restyling and is an important part of the life of this side of the town. It consists of parkland with trees, a large plaza, an artificial lake, fountains, play areas and modern sculptures. Steps border the lake making it a sort of amphitheater where people overlook all the area. At the top of the steps are a series of futuristic towers.
Parc de l'Escorxador (also called Parc de Joan Miró): The old slaughterhouse (escorxador) was demolished in 1979 and the area turned into a park. The rows of palms and pines are overlooked by a 22 meter sculpture Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird) made by Miró. Do not be taken by surprise if during the morning you see elderly people doing their exercises.
Sants even has also its own little festival, Festa Major de Sants, where the streets get dressed up and everyone goes dancing at night. The drinks cubatas and mojitos are popular.
The Festa starts in the last week of August and lasts for eight days.
There are many good food shops and all the shops you might need in the Sants neighborhood.
- There are many markets in Barcelona. The Sants Market (Mercat de Sants) and the Hostafrancs Market (Mercat d'Hostafrancs) are both in this neighborhood. See Wikipedia - List of Markets in Barcelona for more markets.
- Forn Baltà, Carrer de Sants 117 – 119, Barcelona's best bakery is in Plaça Sants. www.fornbalta.cat
- Carrer de la Creu Coberta and Carrer de Sants are Spain's largest shopping street - full of shops!
There are many great restaurants in the Sants - Montjuïc district. These are our favorites. See more restaurants on BCN Restaurantes.
- Restaurante Zarautz, C/Elisi 13, 08014 Barcelona. This is a Basque restaurant where you will discover why the Basque Country region is the best place to eat in Spain. Ask for Cristina and tell her that The Urban Suites.com sent you - nice treatment guaranteed!
- Restaurante JJ, C/Mallorca 18-20, 08014 Barcelona. A fine restaurant where you can eat fish cooked in a Catalan way. www.restaurantejj.es
Where to Stay
The Urban Suites.com
We have 16 suites and four apartments, all with fully equipped kitchens, air conditioning and heating, satellite television, phones, free Internet access (wifi - broadband). This tourist facility opened in July 2009 is run by two sisters, Isabel and Cristina, helped by Max (me!), one of the more 10,000 Italians that decided to move to this amazing town. Design style with a friendly service is what we offer and online reviews are proof that we are doing our best to make tourists happy here with us.
Our apartments are in walking distance to many things - just three minutes to Plaça D'Espanya and ten minutes to the Montjuic. Grocery shopping and Hostafrancs Market are five minutes away.
The Urban Suites.com office is one of the apartments, so we are here if you need us. We work here Monday to Friday, 9am to 7.30 pm. You meet us when you check in and we are always available to suggest tours, restaurants and how to have a great vacation in Barcelona!
- Barcelona Turisme - Barcelona Tourist Office
- Wikipedia - Barcelona
- Wikipedia - Sants Neighborhood | Wikipedia - Sants-Montjuïc District
- Wikipedia - List of Markets in Barcelona
- Fundació Joan Miró - Museum that exhibits a large selection of the works of Miró.
- Artsy.net, Joan Miró - More information about the artist.
- MNAC - Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya - National Museum of Catalan Art.
- Festa Major de Sants - Local festival, starts at the end of August and runs for eight days (in Spanish).
- BCN Restaurantes - Restaurants in Barcelona (in English).