On this last weekend of August in Barcelona… today, a unique sun is my ally, my best spotlight… a great part of Diagonal Avenue Barcelona, or to use its Catalan name Avinguda Diagonal Barcelona, is closed to traffic, so I get my phone and a pair of sneakers and invite you to join me in the adventure of finding unique buildings, hidden places and relaxing corners. So sew your shadow to my feet Peter, and up we go “second to the right and straight on till morning”.
Let’s start our journey at Plaça Francesc Macià. I follow the characteristic pavement pattern, onto this urban catwalk. The design of the paving sett is determined by the general concept being deployed in the Diagonal project.
I have to be careful not to miss a thing… sleek modern buildings next to old classics and Gaudi’s trademarks, make for beautiful patchwork. The awesome Casa Sayrach (Avinguda Diagonal corner with Enric Granados), stands so elegant, as one of the last buildings of Barcelona modernism. Curved shapes characterize its façade.
Back to the avenue, amongst luxury shops and nice cafés and restaurants, I get to the terrace, of José Luis, a classic in Barcelona, the restaurant with posssibly the best “tortilla de patata” in town.
(UPDATE 2020: Jose Luis has now ceded this space to the famous Tapaç 24 by Carles Abellán, who has added this venue to serve the Barcelona district of Sant Gervasi-Galvany, here in Diagonal-Tuset. By the way the tortilla de patata is just as good 🙂 and don’t forget to try the “Bikini”).
Next to it, “Ajo Blanco” (Carrer de Tuset), the other side of the coin, a cool new designer restaurant. Diagonal-Tuset-Granados… the most interesting edge, an explosion of architecture … La Casa Mas de Miquel, La Casa Sayrach, and the stunning Metro 3 building, where the Habitat store (designer furniture) is located.
Now I run into the “Barcelona Equestrian circle” (Círculo Ecuestre de Barcelona, on Diagonal corner with Balmes) – SPOTTED: I’ve heard that you can belong to this select club for a small fee of 12,000 euros, plus the endorsement of four partners and, of course, you must pass a test prior to admission. Then the doors of the Barcelona Equestrian Circle will never be closed to you. You can get together with the economic and social elite of Barcelona, enjoy an exquisite coffee or a drink until the wee hours of the morning… but yes, YOU HAVE to wear a tie [at least of you’re a gentleman]. The Circle completely renovated the interior in 1992, including a full gym, a rooftop pool & café and 16 rooms for members and guests.
The club is hosted in the palace “Casa Perez Samanillo” built in 1910, and what catches the eye is one of the most striking elements of the building, a huge oval window overlooking Diagonal… locals call it the “fishbowl of Barcelona”.
This is amazing!!! No traffic and I’m walking in the middle of the street!!! I’m arriving at Pilma, one of my favourites deco shops. Not far in distance, now I can see the obelisk marking the cross between Diagonal and Passeig the Gràcia. To my right, the building of the Barcelona Provincial Council, advising the beginning of another great promenade, the boulevard of Rambla de Catalunya.
A little further along are the Jardins del Palau Robert and in front of it, on the other side of the avenue, between two glass monsters, the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and Deutsche Bank
(UPDATE 2020: in the last quarter of 2020 the exclusive Mandarin Oriental Residences will open their doors in Barcelona in this same building that for many years, was the headquarters of Deutsche Bank… the new Zeitgeist “from bank to luxury residences…”)
Respectively, the Pompeya Church, a jewel of Neo Gothic contemplates the passage of time, unperturbed by its big neighbours.
Those deck chairs are so inviting… I’m done, hope you found it so appealing that you are eager to get your ass away from La Rambla, and discover an attractive brand new world!