Lovely flat in Plaza España
Apartment | 4 bedrooms | sleeps 6
This sunny apartment has been beautifully decorated with modern furniture and original detail. The tasteful selection of colours, parquet floors and vaulted ceilings offer a warm and cosy environment.
The strategic location of the apartment means visitors can travel quickly and easily around the city with the Sants station close by. The Feria de Barcelona is also a short walk away from the apartment as is the metro stop Plaza d'Espanya served by lines L1 (red) and L3 (green).
Registration Number: HUTB-006750
|Size||Sleeps up to 6, 4 bedrooms|
|Will consider||Corporate bookings, Long term lets (over 1 month), Short breaks (1-4 days)|
|Access||Car not necessary, Wheelchair users|
|Nearest travel links||Nearest airport: http://www.aerobusbcn.com/, Nearest railway: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/transpor|
|Family friendly||Great for children of all ages, Suitable for people with restricted mobility|
|Notes||No pets allowed, No smoking at this property|
Features and Facilities
|General||Central heating, Air conditioning, TV, Wi-Fi available|
|Utilities||Dishwasher, Cooker, Fridge, Freezer, Washing machine|
|Rooms||4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms of which 1 Family bathrooms and 1 Shower rooms|
|Furniture||1 Sofa beds, Single beds (2), Double beds (1), Dining seats for 6, Lounge seats for 6|
|Other||Linen provided, Towels provided|
|Outdoors||Balcony or terrace, Bicycles available, Climbing frame|
|Access||Wheelchair users, Secure parking, Lift access|
The Costa Brava/Catalonia/Barcelona region
Proud of its own identity and language, Catalonia is Spain's richest and most highly industrialised region, and also one of the most independent-minded.
With a distinct history stretching back to the early middle ages, many Catalans think of themselves as a separate nation from the rest of Spain.
This feeling is fed by memories of the Franco dictatorship, which attempted to suppress Catalan identity, and is nowhere more clearly expressed than in the fierce rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, Spain's top football clubs.
A roughly triangular region in Spain's far north-east corner, Catalonia is separated by the Pyrenean mountains from southern France, with which it has close historical ties.
Most of the region's population lives in Barcelona, its vibrant political and economic hub and a popular European travel destination.
Holiday-makers also flock to the Mediterranean beaches of the Costa Brava and Costa Daurada/Dorada, and the Pyrenees are popular with hikers, making tourism an important part of Catalonia's economy.
But it is manufacturing - traditionally textiles, but more recently overtaken in importance by the chemical industry, food-processing, metalworking - that make the region Spain's economic powerhouse, along with a growing service sector.
The area first emerged as a distinct entity with the rise of the County of Barcelona to pre-eminence in the 11th century. In the 12th century, the county was incorporated into the Crown of Aragon, helping it to become a major medieval sea power.
Catalonia has been part of Spain since its genesis in the 15th century, when King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile married and united their realms.
Initially retaining its own institutions, the region was ever more tightly integrated into the Spanish state, until the 19th century ushered in a renewed sense of Catalan identity, which flowed into a campaign for political autonomy and even separatism. The period also saw an effort to revive Catalan, long in decline by then, as a language of literature.
When Spain became a republic in 1931, Catalonia was soon given broad autonomy. During the Spanish Civil War, Catalonia was a key Republican stronghold, and the fall of Barcelona to Gen Francisco Franco's right-wing forces in 1939 marked the beginning of the end of Spanish resistance to him.
Under Franco's ultra-conservative rule, autonomy was revoked, Catalan nationalism repressed and use of the Catalan language restricted.
Politics and language
The pendulum swung back with the emergence of a democratic Spain after Franco's death. Catalonia now has is its own parliament and executive - together known as the "Generalitat" in Catalan - with extensive autonomy.
Until recently, few Catalans wanted full independence, but Spain's painful economic crisis has seen a surge in support for separation. Many Catalans believe the affluent region pays more to Madrid than it gets back, and blame much of Spain's debt crisis on the central government.
The regional government, in power since snap elections in November 2012 gave a majority to separatist right- and left-wing parties, wants to hold a referendum on secession from Spain in 2014. Madrid says it will not accept a pro-independence vote.
The use of Catalan - a language as close to the regional languages of southern France like Occitan as it is to Castilian (Spanish) - has equal status with Castilian and is now actively encouraged in education, official use and the media. However, Castilian predominates in Barcelona, and is still the first language of a narrow majority of Catalans, who are nearly all bilingual.
Variants are also spoken in the region of Valencia to the south, and on the Balearic islands, leading many Catalan nationalists to regard all three regions- as well as the traditionally Catalan-speaking Roussillon region of France - as forming the "Catalan Countries".
In brief: former industrial town outlying the city center, nowadays a busy residential area with a mind of its own.
Highlights: the landscaped Parc de l'Espanya Industrial, being close to Camp Nou and the sights of Montjuïc, the Sants annual street festival in August.
Getting there: the large train station, Estació de Sants, is the main transport hub, and is connected to the Sants metro station. National and international trains run from here, as well as a train to Barcelona's El Prat airport. Otherwise, several different metro stations and lines, bus routes, and a bright and breezy area to navigate on foot.
Why stay: brilliant public transport connections with the rest of the city, some great local restaurants, and easy access to a couple of cool parks.
Sants is home to numerous hotels and the city´s main railway station. It´s primarily a working-class and staunchly Catalan area. In a city where architecture is king, the district doesn´t have much to offer aesthetically however it is right next to Montjuïc, with its numerous parks and monuments, and the nightlife of LEixample Esquerra. Sants also has some of the best public transport links in Barcelona and its restaurants offer plenty of opportunities to sample authentic Catalan cuisine.
Much is made of Sants' working-class, manufacturing roots, and it's true that the odd remnant of its 19th-century industrial heritage can still be seen today. Unless you'd been specifically told about its past producing textiles and housing the workers, though, you might be struggling to notice. For the most part, Sants, which was once a stand-alone town completely separate from Barcelona, is modern – a combination of residential and commercial. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing neighborhood, but it's accessible, really well-connected via public transport, occasionally Modernista and above all, authentically Catalan.
Laid out on the map, the district of Sants is almost a perfect square. The Gran Via forms one edge, as does Carrer de Tarragona, while the other two sides are made up by the Avinguda de Madrid and the Riera Blanca. The large train station, handily named Estació de Sants, is the main reference point of the district, while the Carrer de Sants (which later turns into Creu Coberta) is the major thoroughfare. It leads diagonally up through the area from Plaça de Espanya, and is Sants' main commercial street. The little grassy crossroads of Plaça de Sants, with its metro station, is roughly halfway up this street.
Neighboring districts include the left side of l'Eixample, FC Barcelona's stomping ground of Les Corts (Camp Nou), and the verdant Montjuïc, where you can see the Olympic installations and catch a cable car down to the old port.
Know your neighbors
The residents of Sants are typically of nationalist and socialist persuasion. Expect to see both Catalonian and FC Barça flags flapping off quite a few balconies. The protest marches of the 'indignados', sparked off in May 2011, found strong support in this district, as the traditionally blue-collar population clamoured to add their voices of dissent to the movement. Not many foreigners have made inroads into Sants, although you might see the odd kebab takeaway or Chinese restaurant in the district.
The area has quite a few decent hotels, so you may well encounter guests trudging along with luggage, or business travelers who might be in town for a conference or trade fair at the nearby Fira de Montjuïc. But Sants generally is not a touristy-type barrio. If you're renting an apartment here, you're guaranteed to be living alongside the natives in their home environment.
There are plenty of small, local shops in the area, particularly along the Carrer de Sants, where you'll find shops selling shoes, low-end fashion, household goods, as well as all the essential groceries. For fresh produce, you've got the large Hostafrancs covered market, which is like a more orderly version of the famous Boquería market just off the Ramblas. Offering everything from ham hocks to hake to honey dew melons, it's a good way to get some first-hand experience of a real Catalan shopping experience.
For more conventional shopping, there's the large converted bullring of Las Arenas, just on the corner of Plaça de Espanya. It has fashion and footwear stores, a basement supermarket, a cinema and restaurants on the top floor where you can enjoy a panoramic view over the city.
The biggest public transport hub in the area is the Estació de Sants train station, which is also connected to the Sants metro station. National and international trains run from here, and if you're arriving into Barcelona by train there's a good chance it will be into this station. From here you can catch a high-speed AVE train to Madrid, or hop on a regional train to the likes of Sitges and Tarragona for a day trip. You can also catch the train directly to Barcelona's El Prat airport.
Otherwise, the gods of the metro have been generous to Sants. Smack bang in the middle, straddling the blue and red lines, is the Plaça de Sants, from which you can go directly to the Sagrada Família or to Plaça de Catalunya. The metro stops of Badal, Mercat Nou and Hostafrancs are also within the district. Getting oriented on foot is fairly straightforward, with the reference points of the Gran Via slicing along the bottom and the long Carrer de Sants (which turns into Creu Coberta) cutting the area diagonally. Plenty bus routes service the area as well.
As an established residential area, Sants isn't home to any of the major landmarks within the city, but in August it comes into its own as a riot of color and characters take to the streets for its annual street festival. Its Festa Major comes hot on the heels of the district of Gràcia's celebrated street party, and the residents of Sants take barely disguised pleasure in competing with their rivals for the prize of best decorated barrio.
Within Sants itself, the most picturesque part you could visit is the not too auspiciously named Parc de l'Espanya Industrial, which is very close to the train station. Dating from the mid 1980s, it's a strangely compelling space, dominated by the artificial lake in the center. Series of stone steps rise up from the water, in a sort of faux amphitheatre set-up, and it's a lovely place to sit with a packed lunch or take the kids to play. Sliding down the chute in the shape of a dragon might be a particular highlight (for the kids, that is).
Skirting around the periphery of the neighborhood are various other sights of interest. Just off the Plaça de Espanya you'll find the entrance to Montjuïc, with the grand spectacle of the Magic Fountain and escalators leading up to the Palau Nacional, where the art museum MNAC is housed. Up in the other direction is Camp Nou, for any ardent football fans, while towards L'Eixample Esquerra is the green Parc de Joan Miró, presided over by his iconic statue 'Dona I Ocell' ('Woman and Bird').
Restaurants in Sants tend to concentrate largely on Catalan cuisine, although there are a few good Italian and Mexican places too. A good choice for a romantic dinner is Blau, on Carrer de Tenor Masini. A small, intimate place with starched white tablecloths, it offers exceptionally friendly service. If you're heading out in a group, you could try Taverna La Parra, which is down a side street just off the main street of Creu Coberta. With its vine-clad terrace and casks of wine, it has a cozy and authentically Catalan feel, and the food is always good value. On Carrer Galileu you'll find Àtica, whose set lunch menu is particularly good value. It doesn't look like much from outside, but the food is beautiful, with a surprisingly creative choice of dishes.
Sants isn't really known for its nightlife, but there are plenty of clubs in the neighboring L'Eixample Esquerra for you to choose from. Within Sants, the little square Plaça d'Osca is earning a name as an alternative, cool place to go for a drink, with its open-air cafes and bars. If you do fancy going to a club not too far from your hotel or apartment, there's Privilege on Carrer de Tarragona. Hailing originally from Ibiza, it's a large venue that specializes in house music.
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