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El Born

March 2014 | Trends | Style district | Barcelona

The scene of historic and literary events, this district combines its medieval past with the best and most avant-garde art, fashion and cuisine.

Falcones, Mendoza and Zafón are but a few of the many writers in whose books El Born plays a role as important as that of the leading characters. Indeed, Barcelona’s story cannot be told without mentioning this district, which has been
the epicentre of many key events in the city.
El Born –or La Ribera– underwent its period of greatest splendour in the times of Catalonia’s commercial expansion throughout the Mediterranean in the 13th and 14th centuries. Pla de Palau was the city’s main square and the gateway for all that arrived by sea, including both goods and people. Important commercial buildings rose up around it, like the Llotja de Mar and the Customs House.
In addition to its historical wealth, El Born is rich in architecture, being full of Gothic buildings and mansions. The impressive basilica of Santa Maria del Mar stands out among them. There are also examples of Catalan Modernisme,
including El Born Market Hall, a magnificent structure of glass and wrought iron built between 1873 and 1876 by the architect Josep Fontserè.
Today El Born is a nerve centre of Barcelona: its museums, theatres, design shops, fashion boutiques, bars and restaurants give it a unique personality.
Pleasantly surprising by day and night, no itinerary is required here – indeed, the best thing is to wander about its narrow streets, discovering its treasures, until you come to Passeig del Born, where knights jousted eight centuries ago.

Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar

Built between 1329 and 1384, the Gothic architecture of this basilica is quite unusual. There is a sharp contrast between
the solidity of its exterior and the apparent lightness of its interior, which stands out for its extraordinary conception of space. The great French architect Le Corbusier visited it whenever he came to Barcelona and would spend hours admiring the perfection of its lines, saying he was sorry he hadn’t designed it himself. The basilica has incredibly good acoustics, making it an ideal venue for concerts.

El Born Cultural Centre
This new cultural centre will open on 11 September, coinciding with the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the Siege of Barcelona, when the city fell to the troops of Philip V. It was decided to install it in El Born Market Hall on discovering archaeological vestiges there in 2002. These are remains of the part of La Ribera that Philip V demolished on defeating Catalonia in the War of the Spanish Succession. In this museum of the Barcelona of 1714, visitors will see what life was like in the city at that time. The centre will have four main areas, including two multi-purpose spaces.
 

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