The neighbourhoods of Sants originated from a rural path which followed the route of the Camí Ral, or royal road, into Barcelona, surrounded by wheat fields, vineyards and allotments. With the passage of time and subsequent changes to the area, the old path is now a glittering shopping street – the Carrer de Sants – with top-class retail outlets.
When we walk up and down the shopping thoroughfare formed by the Carrer de Sants and Carrer d’Hostafrancs, it’s hard to imagine that this was an area of fields and farmhouses until well into the 18th century. The construction of a road through Sants, the arrival of the railways and the setting up of many textile mills, gave an economic boost to the neighbourhood and brought a massive influx of newcomers.
The remains of some of the old industrial buildings, which have been put to new uses, can still be seen today, such as the old steam-driven textile mill, the Vapor Vell, which is now a municipal library, or the Espanya Industrial textile works, which have been converted into the neighbourhood’s biggest park. And standing proudly between the narrow streets with their workers’ cottages is the Carrer de Sants which joins onto the Carrer d’Hostafrancs to make Europe’s longest shopping thoroughfare, stretching for 4 kilometres. Over 500 shops await us, along with countless restaurants and bars. This traditional shopping district has preserved the authentic character of the once separate village of Sants, which was absorbed by Barcelona in 1897.
How to get there: Metro L1, stop Hostafrancs or Pl. de Sants and L5, stop Pl. de Sants. | Bus 30, 56, 57, 115 and 157. | Barcelona Bus Turístic, stop Creu Coberta.
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