Photo credit: CPGXK
When you fancy getting off Barcelona’s beaten track, head on over to Les Tres Torres – a serene neighbourhood in the heart of the Sarria district. By venturing out just that little bit further away from the city’s central artery, you will reap some fine rewards. This is a place where you will find elegant, traditional townhouses situated beside green parks and stylish plazas where locals go about their daily lives untouched by the influence of tourism.
Las Tres Torres is part of the wider neighbourhood of Sarria, which used to be its own municipality but is now part of the city of Barcelona. It still holds the feeling of a small village and a strong sense of individuality, as well as a glimpse into old Barcelona.
Take a stroll
This is primarily a residential neighbourhood making it a peaceful space that is most likely a world away from the typical image of Barcelona as a buzzing metropolis. Yet the area is a great place to soak up authentic local culture, in particular the space around Mandri Street. Just take a stroll at any time of the day or night along this stylish, laidback boulevard lined with artisan and organic food and clothes shops alongside trendy restaurants and bars.
A stroll around the Sarria neighbourhood also affords the opportunity to enjoy some of Barcelona’s most traditional architecture, with quaint, narrow streets lined with centuries-old houses and shops. The former town hall is well worth a visit; make sure to stop and appreciate the sculpture at the front of the building.
The food market is one of the original features of which locals are most proud and a destination that has served the local community for more than 100 years. Barcelona is a haven for foodies at the best of times and Sarrià Market offers a great way to experience the sights, smells and taste of a variety of traditional foodstuffs whilst rubbing shoulders with local families who have shopped at the market for generations. Many stallholders will even create dishes on-site and offer tasters – a memorable way to enjoy your visit!
The market building itself dates back to 1910 and still retains decorative period features, including a series of pillars that sit alongside huge windows and add to the ambience. Although it is much smaller, the Mercado de les Tres Torres has been in operation since the 1950s and is a lovely place to buy some fresh food. For a more modern shopping experience, head over to the L’Illa shopping centre on Avenida Diagonal. This really retains the colourful and wacky Barcelona personality thanks to its unusual architectural style – it’s built as a skyscraper but a horizontal one!
Relax in the park
One of the most enjoyable aspects of a stay in the Tres Torres neighbourhood is the fresh air and abundance of green space. The Turo Park is a pleasant stroll from the hotel and comprises a small and extremely charming enclosed space flanked by colourful flowers and towering trees as well as a landscape pond and intricate sculptures.
For a lovely place to while away an afternoon, the Parc de l’Oreneta is a beautiful urban woodland featuring traditional Mediterranean flora and fauna and listed species, as well as a miniature steam train and pony rides for the little ones. The higher parts of the park also welcome panoramic views over the city. Slightly further afield, you will find the gateway to Collserola Park from which you can explore the Natural Park on a relaxing cycle ride and appreciate even more dazzling city views.
Discover Gaudi’s lesser-known sights
One of the best attractions in the area is the Casa Bellesguard. Translating as ‘house of beautiful views’, this medieval-style, neo-Gothic structure was built by Gaudi in the early 1900s. It stands below Collserola and beside a viaduct on the site of an ancient castle that once housed members of the Catalan royal family. Its design was influenced by the traditional castle style and features towers, turrets, wrought iron elements and intricate mosaics, as well as Gaudi’s distinctive four-armed cross.
Another wonderful local attraction that was built by Gaudi is the Teresian College, a neo-Gothic style structure that the famous architect designed in line with the religious function of the college as a convent, school and boarding school. Built in the late 1880s, it features traditional symbols of the Teresian order as well as details that have come to be associated with Gaudi, such as parabolic arches. It reflects his modernist style and complements the artisan nature of the Sarria neighbourhood, which was introduced during the 19th century when the Catalan elite flocked to Sarria.
Where to eat
Reflecting its upper-class community, the restaurants around Tres Torres and Sarria offer world-class, entirely elegant cuisine. Tapas bar Montesquiu on Mandri Street offer delectable dishes which you can enjoy on the outdoor terrace whilst embracing the buzz of the area’s most happening street. For something a bit different, head further down Mondri Street to Once Upon A Time. This restaurant boasts shabby chic décor and an all-day menu offering local cuisine with French, European and Oriental twists. There are also many Italian restaurants in the area. Nonna Maria offers great traditional Italian fare while Restaurant Le Quattro Stagioni changes its menu throughout the year in order to offer the freshest seasonal cuisine.
Where to stay
Indulge your inner princess with a stay at the Primero Primera, a luxurious hideaway tucked away in the Tres Torres neighbourhood. Boasting privacy and relaxation in spades along with some of the largest rooms and suites in the city, this is a wonderful place to rest your head.