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What to visit / Interesting districts / Gràcia i Park Güell

Gràcia and Park Güell

Formerly a separate village, Gràcia has now been absorbed into Barcelona's urban fabric. It still retains its own unique personality and age-old customs among its network of small, narrow bustling streets and numerous squares where locals meet. Despite its humble origins, Gràcia's population has always been enlightened; it still has an active political and social life and an extensive network of deeply rooted civic, cultural, sporting and artistic institutions.

In the early 19th century, Gràcia was a village that spread northwards from just outside the old walled city of Barcelona towards the Collserola Massif. Its origins date back to centuries earlier, when settlements were established around a Franciscan convent (the convent of Jesus) and another housing a community of Barefoot Carmelites (Our Lady of Grace). In 1897, Barcelona, which was in the throes of large-scale expansion with the construction of its Eixample district, absorbed Gràcia and other surrounding villages and it became one of the city's new neighbourhoods.

Nevertheless, Gràcia hasn't lost any of its distinctive personality, as seen in its own festivals, such as the Festa Major, which is held in mid-August and has become one of the city's landmark celebrations. It has also moved with the times and its time-honoured bars, restaurants and shops have been joined by cutting-edge fashion boutiques run by young, trend-setting designers, and multicultural leisure attractions and restaurants.

In addition to this, one of Gràcia's most important tourist attractions is undoubtedly Park Güell, one of Gaudí's masterpieces and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This garden-city project was commissioned by Eusebi Güell but never completed. It eventually became the property of Barcelona City Council. The result is a public park full of imagination and colour where every detail expresses Antoni Gaudí's desire to integrate architecture into the surrounding natural setting.