To experience a small-town feel, head to the Rambla del Poblenou, a pleasant boulevard runs from Gran Via to the beach. On your way, you’ll pass Modernista façades and numerous terraces inviting you in for a cool beer.
El Poblenou is an extensive neighbourhood of Barcelona (Sant Martí district), technically part of the Eixample, its layout having been drafted by Ildefons Cerdà, although the historic centre of the neighbourhood (which was once a town entirely separated from Barcelona) predates the grid.
This street is the hub of the Poblenou’s cultural, social and retail life. As you walk along it, you’ll be able to explore this former industrial area and see modernity blend with tradition and the community life that have defined Poblenou over the years.
Originally named the Passeig del Triomf, the locals have called this street the Rambla de Poblenou from the very beginning, and it officially adopted this name in 1986. This is a typical Barcelona Rambla, stretching elegantly from the sea to the mountains, structured in rectangular and circular forms. Its origins date back to 1853 when the Cerdà Plan was laid out, around an industrial Poblenou which was starting to grow in the centre of the Sant Martí district. The Rambla gave locals an ideal place for a stroll where they could socialise.
It still fulfils the same functions today and is lined with shops, bars and restaurants with a past closely associated with the social life of Poblenou. Next to extremely beautiful modernist buildings, with their stunning decorations, you will come across the age-old shops and bars, as well as institutions, such as the Casino de l’Aliança, which has been the focus of the neighbourhood’s social and cultural life since the end of the 19th century. A number of sculptures enrich this colourful, friendly avenue, such as the one at the top, at the junction of Carrer Pere IV, dedicated to Doctor Josep Trueta.
During the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, Poblenou was the epicentre of Catalan Iberian industry, earning it its sobriquet of the Catalonian Manchester. Surrounding the extensive cluster of factories stood mostly working-class residential areas. After a period of decay, the neighbourhood has undergone a dramatic transformation. Many of the areas that have been developed—including the Vila Olímpica, the Diagonal Mar area, and the Fòrum area—arguably comprise their own neighbourhoods. Completing its original, unfinished plan, The Avinguda Diagonal now stretches from Plaça de Les Glòries to the sea.
Many artists and young professionals have converted the former factories and warehouses into lofts, galleries, and shops. Art & Design schools and studios have also opened, making the area known for its creative outlook. The leafy Rambla de Poblenou, which stretches from Avinguda Diagonal to the beach, is the main commercial street.