Palo Alto: Barcelona's Secret Garden

Tara Jessop

If the name rings a bell, you may well be thinking of the Palo Alto Market, a pop-up market in Barcelona that takes place the first weekend of the month, where you can find food trucks, vintage stalls and artisan designs – and one of the hottest hangouts in town. What many don’t know is that Palo Alto is in fact a creative space and garden harbouring dozens of local entrepreneurs in the heart of the Poblenou Urban District.
From the outside, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Palo Alto was just another worn-down factory in the backstreets of Poblenou. This former industrial district of Barcelona has in recent years become a hub of activity for freelance entrepreneurs, artists and those looking for an alternative to big business in Barcelona.

Courtesy of Palo Alto Market

Step inside Palo Alto and you’ll discover an oasis of greenery and tranquility, which today is home to a number of offices and co-working spaces. The site’s owner, Javier Mariscal, is a Spanish artist who stumbled upon the building in a state of disrepair back in the early nineties and decided to take it on as a personal project.

Courtesy of Palo Alto Market

One of the first changes to be made was the transformation of the inner courtyards from a functional factory backyard to a green wilderness. The job was given to designer José Farriol, whose mission it became to inject new life into the heart of the former factory in the form of green spaces, plants and trees.

Today, the garden has grown into itself and looks like it could have been there for centuries, boasting a bold mixture of local and exotic plants that have taken the space over as theirs. Raw materials dating back to the factory days, such as red brick and metal, are intertwined with plants to seemingly bring the space to life.

Courtesy of Palo Alto Market

While the gardens remain a private space, visitors can wander around during the opening hours of the office spaces. Of course, the other option is to visit Palo Alto during a market weekend to see the space transformed into a dynamic cultural space and foodie paradise, frequented by the city’s trendsetters and it-crowd.

Courtesy of Palo Alto Market

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