Found in the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) of Barcelona, in between the Gothic Quarter and the Ciutadella Park, is the trendy and popular neighbourhood of El Born. The area is home to some of the city’s oldest buildings but has a reputation as being one of the most hip and fashionable places in Barcelona. Bars, cafés and restaurants line the streets, meaning there’s always a bustle of people relaxing together. However, El Born isn’t simply a great spot for some food and drinks with friends, as there’s plenty of culture to immerse yourself in too. Above all else, you are just 15-minutes’ walk from the beach here, so let us introduce you to your new favourite Barcelona neighbourhood.
History of El Born
The area dates back to the Roman period, sitting outside the historic city of Barcino. Many early inhabitants were fisherman and dockworkers, being found so close to the sea, but over time the population began to incorporate noblemen and rich merchants who decided to construct their houses here. This is quite telling of the melting pot of people that live here today too, from pensioners playing cards, to young people out for drinks, and from lifelong Barcelona inhabitants, to international students, this district makes itself welcome to all walks of life.
Nowadays, people use the name of ‘El Born’ to refer to the larger neighbourhood of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera, stretching from the Barceloneta up to the Palau de la Música. However, this is a common misconception, as historically El Born has only been used to refer to the lower part of the neighbourhood, La Ribera. Legend says that the name El Born is derived from the Catalan word ‘bornejar’, meaning to joust. During medieval times, jousting tournaments were held on the strip that is now called Passeig del Born, and in present day it is still arguably the neighbourhood’s most lively street.
What to visit in El Born
Palau de la Música Catalana
Opened in in 1908 by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner as the headquarters of “Orfeó Catala”, a prestigious institution to support Catalan music and culture. The concert hall has a breathtaking interior in the style of Catalan Art Nouveau, the only one in the world of this style to be listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Palau puts on over 150 shows all year round and is an unmissable experience if you are in El Born.
Learn all about one of Catalonia and Spain’s most infamous artists, Pablo Picasso, his life and all his work he created when he moved to Barcelona as a young artist. The genius of Picasso is shown here through over 4,000 pieces that make up the permanent collection. Head here on Thursday afternoons from 4pm-7pm and on the first Sunday of each month to enter free of charge!
Santa María del Mar
The most iconic landmark in the El Born district has to be the Santa María del Mar church. An outstanding example of Catalan Gothic architecture, this magnificent building was constructed in the 14th century and has stood the test of time to present day. You can wander inside and marvel at the amazing interior for free! Get a guide to show you round and teach you a bit more about the history.
Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria
The El Born CCM is a space that was created for the city to encourage the remembrance of local and national events, as well as events that have affected communities all around the world. Housed where formerly the El Born market stood, you can now enjoy looking round the interior and taking a stroll through the building. Head to the remains of the neighbourhood that was demolished by Philip V and visit many other exhibitions that are put on show here. It is also completely free of charge to the public!
Mercat de Santa Caterina
The Santa Caterina Market is well worth a visit in El Born! A bustling food market constructed on the former site of the Convent of Santa Caterina, that after the civil war became the main food supplier to the towns on the outskirts of Barcelona. Today, the lively market sells a wide range of Spanish delicacies, fruits, vegetables, flowers and meats, such as the classic speciality of jamón Iberico.
Notable streets and squares to visit in El Born
- Passeig del Born
- Carrer de la Princessa
- Carrer dels Flassaders
- Carrer de l’Argenteria
- Plaza de Sant Agustí Vell
- Plaça de Pons i Clerch
Bars & restaurants
Being one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Barcelona, there are endless excellent bars and restaurants to visit here. The district is known for its quirky bars along charming side streets, you’ll always find people ambling round for a drink with friends. Aside from this, there are also plenty of cafés and bakeries to grab a snack and a coffee on the go too. To help narrow down your search, here’s a few of our favourites in Born:
Pizzeria Da Nanni
Good for: pizza lovers (aka everyone!), vegetarians, friendly service
Address: Carrer del Rec 30, 08003
Good for: brunch, coffee, vegetarians, cocktails
Address: Carrer Cremat 11, 08003
Pura Vida Cocktails
Good for: Caribbean food, amazing cocktails, music, atmosphere
Address: Carrer dels Mercaders 20, 08003
Good for: sweet tooths, churros, chocolate, coffee
Address: Via Laietana 46, 08003
Tucco Real Food
Good for: pizza, pasta, vegetarians, friendly service
Address: Carrer Consolat de Mar 23, 08003
Good for: tapas, Spanish cuisine, vegetarians, cocktails
Address: Plaça de Jacint Reventos, 08003
Good for: sangria, breakfast, tapas, friendly service
Address: Sant Pere Mes Alt 49, 08003
Good for: breakfast, pastries, coffee
Address: Carrer dels Flassaders 44, 08003
Good for: Catalan cuisine, romantic dinner, drinks
Address: Via Laietana 30, 08003
Good for: vegetarians & vegans, dinner, lunch, cakes, international cuisine
Address: Plaça Del Fossar de Les Moreres, 08003
Good for: tasting menu, fine dining, Mediterranean/Spanish fusion cuisine
Address: Carrer dels Flassaders 19, 08003
Good for: fine dining, vegetarians, Spanish/Catalan cuisine, lunch, dinner
Address: Carrer de Montcada 22, 08003
Where to stay in El Born
Perhaps after reading all of the wonderful things to see and do in El Born, your heart is now set that this is the ideal place for you to stay in Barcelona. El Born is an excellent choice if you are stuck between wanting the beautiful historic side of Barcelona, mixed with the modern, as many of the apartments here have newly renovated interiors, inside of fantastic historic buildings. AB Apartment Barcelona has many excellent apartments in El Born for you to have the perfect stay in our city. Whether a solo traveller, couple, or group of friends, there is a wide variety of apartments to choose from. Check out our website or get in touch with our friendly team who would be delighted to assist you in finding your perfect apartment for your time in Barcelona.