What to visit / Barcelona, district by district / Sant Andreu / The old part of the Mercadal neighbourhood

The old part of the Mercadal neighbourhood

A stroll through the Plaça d'Orfila, the Plaça del Mercadal or along the main street, known as the Carrer Gran de Sant Andreu, gives us an idea of what it must have been like in the old town which was once separate from Barcelona and was absorbed into the city in 1897. A small neighbourhood, where the locals still know one another and stop to pass the time of day.

Sant Andreu stood on a fertile plain and became a farming area. It gradually evolved into a small village of shops. Its location, on the road between Barcelona the Vallès region, made it the ideal space for trade exchanges between farmers and travelling salesmen. This boom in trade resulted in the beautiful porticoed square, the Plaça del Mercadal, a place where time seems to have stood still.

The same peace and quiet of olden times permeates the Plaça d'Orfila, where we find the local council offices and the church of Sant Andreu del Palomar. The square is part of a pleasant pedestrianised street which commences at the Carrer de l'Ajuntament and ends at the Plaça del Comerç, where there is an interesting building in the home-grown Catalan art-nouveau, or modernista, style. The perfect place for a stroll, which has expanded in recent years as far as the former textile mill that used to belong to Fabra i Coats. This was once the most important factory in Sant Andreu and has now been converted into a cultural centre.

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