Vallcarca - the overlooked gem at the heart of Gracia
Barcelona is a city that is known for its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and beautiful parks. One of the city's most famous attractions is Park Güell, which attracts millions of tourists every year. While Parque Guell is undoubtedly a must-visit destination, there is a hidden gem most tourists (and some locals) overlook despite walking right through it when heading towards the famous landmark.
Vallcarca is one of Barcelona’s oldest neighborhoods. Its calm residential surroundings and elevated residences among the trees provide a welcome break from the hectic pace of the city's central district.
While I walked up the steep green hill on a warm winter day during my last visit to Barcelona, a woman walking down the street stops on her way upon seeing me, she looked up and down on me and shouted loudly from the other side of the street, "Are you a tourist?'
'Y..Yes' I stuttered, slightly embarrassed by my evident lack of acculturation.
'You know the park is closed today' (It was a public holiday, so naturally most tourist attractions were closed.)
'I know, I'm just having a walk around the neighborhood, but thank you for telling me'
For a good few seconds, she processed what I had just said while staring perplexedly at the piece of evidence that had given away my disguise—a vintage camara the size of a small Soviet tank, dangling from my neck—then continued on her way downhill.
A brief dive into history
Vallcarca, has a rich history that dates back centuries. Originally an agricultural area dotted with vineyards and olive groves, it witnessed rapid urbanization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Despite the growth and development, Vallcarca has managed to preserve its old-world charm and architectural character.
Why so many tourists and locals alike overlook this gem on their way to Park Güell or Gracia at times made me doubt my urban beauty standards, yet feel relieved at the same time, knowing that without this particular residental character, the atmosphere wouldn't be quite the same.