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The neighbourhoods of Hostafrancs and Sants, which both offer a wide variety of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, form the heart of the Sants-Montjuïc district. This district covers the south-western section of Barcelona. The narrow streets at the foot of Montjuïc hill lend Hostafrancs and Sants a homely, village character. But they also have a bustling atmosphere with one of the longest shopping streets in Europe: Carrer de Sants.
As you wander along the busy shopping streets of Carrer de Sants and Carrer d’Hostafrancs it is hard to imagine Sants-Montjuïc’s rural history. Until the late 19th century, this district was full of farms and vineyards. At the time, Carrer de Sants was known as Camí Ral (Royal Road) and was an important entry route to Barcelona. At the end of the 19th century, the textile industry developed on this side of the city. The old workers’ houses are still inhabited to this day.
Parc de l’Espanya Industrial is located just 100 metres from Sants train station. It features an artificial lake on which people float around in rented boats. Various modern artworks are dotted around the park, such as the 9 tall towers, reminiscent of factory chimneys or lighthouses. Keep an eye out for the whimsical, iron creation Dragon without Saint George by Andrés Nagel, which is also popular as a children’s slide.
Parc de l’Espanya Industrial, Carrer Muntadas 37, 08014 Barcelona
The rural past of Hostafrancs and Sants is clearly recognisable in Mercat d’Hostafrancs. This indoor market is located inside a remarkable metal structure, which towers above the Carrer de la Creu Roberta shopping street. Since 1888, its market stalls have supplied workers’ families with fresh produce from the surrounding region. Stroll among the stalls, where local farmers sing the praises of their goods, and taste the traditional atmosphere of 19th-century Barcelona. The market is open daily from 7:00 to 14:30 (closed on Sundays).
Mercat d’Hostafrancs, Carrer de la Creu Coberta 93, Barcelona
For around a century, the avenue Paral.lel has been popular among local bohemians as Barcelona’s Broadway. The same goes for El Molino theatre: in the past it staged daring cabaret acts, while today modern shows are also performed. The windmill sails above the entrance are iconic, although they are no longer the originals. The theatre was closed for almost 15 years and fell into disrepair, until a group of artists and entrepreneurs joined forces and re-opened the new El Molino in 2010. The lunchtime shows are enjoyable, from Wednesday to Sunday at 14:00.
El Molino, Carrer de Vilà i Vilà 99, 08004 Barcelona