Who would have thought that Barcelona’s most historic neighbourhood is also home to some of its finest street art? Among the winding back streets of the Gothic Quarter and its many iconic landmarks, the city’s street artists have injected new life to the area. The result is a blend of old and new, at times so harmonious you would be forgiven for forgetting it hasn’t always looked that way. The Gothic Quarter is largely where Barcelona’s street art scene really took off, as artists made the most of the impressive backdrops to showcase some of their best work.
In many cases, owing to the fact that many of the buildings in the area are artworks in their own right, the street art here pops up on doorways, electricity boxes, roads signs and other urban surfaces. Let your eyes wander as you explore the neighbourhood if you don’t want to miss out on some its real hidden gems.
This is one of the favourite play grounds of Barcelona’s street artists (both professional and amateur) owing to the fact that it is one of the city’s only purpose-built graffiti parks. Artists can paint away to their hearts’ content on one of the large walls facing the busy Av. Parallel, without fear of getting a fine.
Perhaps one of Barcelona’s most iconic pieces of street art, the large mural on the corner of the Carrer de Sant Pau and Carrer de la Riereta is a tribute to the famous Catalan artist Joan Miró. The piece was created by local street artists Sixe Paredes as part of a city-wide project which coincided with the exhibition ‘From Miró to BCN’ on display at the Fundació Miró at the time. Today it remains one of the city’s most emblematic pieces of mural street art.
Another of Barcelona’s most famous examples of street art is the large mural painted on the front of the abandoned coal factory known as La Carbonería. Technically in the Sant Antoni neighbourhood, this building was lived in as a squat for many years before its residents were evicted in 2014. Today the building is protected by the council, meaning it can’t be destroyed or altered in any significant way, so this defiant artwork is likely to be on show for years to come.
Last but not least, Poblenou is one of the city’s most popular hangouts for its many street artists owing to the abundance of disused factories and abandoned buildings this neighbourhood harbours. Once upon a time this was the industrial heart of Barcelona before the many factories and workhouses relocated outside the city. Today it is one of the city’s most up-and-coming neighbourhoods home to many artists, designers and other urban creatives looking to regenerate the area.
One of the best places to get a glimpse of Poblenou’s thriving street art scene is on the Carrer de la Selva de Mar, between Gran Via de les Cortes Catalanes and Av. Diagonal. Here you’re guaranteed to find colourful murals of all shapes and sizes by some of the most talented artists in the city today.
Just remember that street art is in many cases transient and in most cases (bar some of the more established murals described above) there are never any guarantees of what you’ll be able to see on any given day. But Barcelona is without a doubt a street-art lover’s paradise and there’s always something on offer for those who are willing to put in the leg work to search it out.