Amongst the winding streets and quirky architecture, Barcelona is home to more than a handful of buzzing squares, or in Catalan, plaças.
Many of these are large, central and well known, such as Plaça de Catalunya, Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça Reial. However, if you explore further into Barcelona’s neighbourhoods through the narrow alleyways and labyrinth of streets, we guarantee that you will discover some quieter, smaller squares – all of which have their own unique personality.
Many of these hidden plaças are lined with authentic tapas bars, street art, offbeat cafés and restaurants and of course, heaps of rich history.
Hidden squares of Barcelona which are worth visiting:
Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol
Due to its central location in the Gothic Quarter, many use this square as a point of passage to reach other places. However, if you take the time to actually stop and turn your attention to this quaint yet cool square, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed. The plaça also backs onto the Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi, which is definitely worth a visit during your time in Barcelona, if not for its incredible architecture and inner garden, but for its very cheap entry price of only €4. On weekends, local painters often come together to exhibit and sell their artwork in this square; giving it an artistic touch and friendly buzz. Home to many trendy boutiques, funky bars and tapas restaurants, Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol makes for the perfect place to sit back, relax and watch the world go by.
Plaça de Sant Felip Neri
Plaça de Sant Felip Neri is another unique square in Barcelona, named after the Baroque style church that presides over it. Situated again in the Gothic Quarter, this tranquil and romantic plaça is oozing with history and architecture. The square itself stands on the old medieval cemetery of Montjuïc del Obispo, destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, with Renaissance-style housing surrounding the spot. Next to the church, the school of Sant Felip Neri still stands, and etched into the side of the building remain bomb wounds that fell from the sky in January, 1938 during the Spanish Civil War. Whilst strolling through the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter, be sure to take a scenic turn down either Carrer de Montjuïc del Bisbe or Carrer de Sant Felip Neri to reach this peaceful and serene square and escape the hustle and bustle of the city center.
Plaça del Rei
The royal palace, Palau Reial Major, and its surrounding Renaissance buildings enclose this peaceful square that takes you right back to the 13th century. Plaça del Rei is a charming site tucked away amongst the labyrinth-like streets of the Gothic Quarter. The current square, together with the land where the Palau del Lloctinent stands today, formed part of the cattle enclosure owned by the royal palace. Despite it being closed by a wall, the space was open to the public and was used for centuries as a market. Although this plaça isn’t home to lots of restaurants, cafés and shops, it undeniably provides a harmonious and peaceful experience for all who venture in. Many like to sit on the rows of steps attached to the royal palace to relax and take in the rich history and culture of this serene square.
Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
Gràcia is a charismatic and trendy district of Barcelona. Once an independent village, this neighbourhood is home to some of the city’s most charming squares, including Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia – the heart and essence of the Gràcia community. This quaint plaça still holds the old clock tower and town hall. A fun fact about this square is that it has previously had many different official names such as Oriente, Constitución, and Rius i Taulet. Moderately larger than the others mentioned, Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia is lined with plenty of cafés, small shops and terraces, making it the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat whilst taking in the history, charm and views.
Plaça de la Barceloneta
Many know Barceloneta as the name of Barcelona’s main beach. Whilst this isn’t incorrect, the neighbourhood of Barceloneta offers much more than just a touristic beach. It is in fact home to a beautiful, authentic square – Plaça de la Barceloneta. The Church of Sant Miguel del Port overlooks it along with a few restaurants and cafés, including the legendary ‘Lòstia’ tapas restaurant, run by a well-known local family of inn-keepers. This chilled square is located just a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean Sea and buzzing Barceloneta life, making it the perfect place to relax and grab a bite to eat after a long beach day.
Travel Tip shared by Lauren Regan at AB Apartment Barcelona