Barcelona is divided into several districts and they all have their own individual traits. Down in Barceloneta you have the beach and a huge array of seafood restaurants, Gothic you have the old town and winding streets, Raval is a poorer district of the city centre though still very lively and with a wonderful sense of community. And next to Raval you come to Poble Sec.
The dividing line of these two districts is Parallel, an avenue that cuts down from picturesque Plaça Espanya right down to the World Trade Centre at the tip of the port. Poble Sec is an area spreading out from the middle of Parallel. The areas are safe and primarily residential but there is much entertainment to be had as well. However, whilst Parallel is a busy thoroughfare during the day, the areas are quiet and just a 10-20 minute walk to the centre of the city and Las Ramblas. A good choice if you want to be central but away from the crowds of tourists that populate more central areas.
Montjuïc and Plaça Espanya are also close by. The event halls and the Palau de Congressos near Plaça Espanya also make the Parallel / Poble Sec area perfect for those in Barcelona on business. Although both Plaça Espanya and Montjuïc have a lot to offer tourists as well. There are several restaurants and many cafes which line either side of Parallel which also is home to some beautiful building facades, making it popular with visitors.
The nightclub on Parallel is one of the most famous night clubs in the city. Sala Apollo is filled to the brim with party people every night of the summer months. Their reputation has been confirmed over the years for their weekly party, Nasty Monday’s. The night is a discography of rock n roll classics for you to dance and sing along to until 5.30am. It is sadly rare to hear classic rock in nightclubs anymore so take advantage of a Nasty Monday’s night while you are in town you won’t be disappointed!
In New York, the main theatre district is the famous Broadway, in London it is Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End and in Barcelona it is Parallel. Here is a rundown of the best theatres along Parallel.
Right next to the famous nightclub Sala Apollo is Teatre Apollo; a venue with over 100 years of history, having first opened its doors in 1904. Reformed in 1991, it currently has an attendance capacity of 1,000, which makes it one of the biggest theatres in Barcelona. It is the place to go for those looking to see the most sophisticated, big-budget operettas, operas or musicals, having hosted productions such as Sweeney Todd, Jesus Christ Superstar, We Will Rock You, Cabaret, Fame, HAIR and Michael Jackson King of Pop.
Open since 1916, Teatre Victoria is another one of the most popular theatres in Barcelona. In recent years, it has provided both locals and tourists with the opportunity to see world famous musicals such as Grease and Spamalot, as well as national productions like the acclaimed La Família Irreal (The Unreal Family), a pointed satirical portrait of the Spanish royal family.
Dedicated almost exclusively to the comedy genre, Teatre Candal has been a staple of the Barcelona cultural scene since its inauguration in 1903. Recently renovated and modernized, it continues to play a vital part in the promotion and evolution of the art of theatre in the city.
Last but not least amongst the most important theatres in Avinguda del Parallel is BARTS (Barcelona Arts on Stage), which is also a popular concert venue. A dynamic centre for all types of cultural activities, it is an essential part of Barcelona’s art scene.
Poble Sec is situation at the base of Mont Juic. If you fancy a little hike up the hill I highly recommend it. From Parallel you can reach the fortress at the top in about 30 minutes. And it is well worth the climb as the view at the top is one of the best. Barcelona is relatively flat so you can literally see the entire city from that one spot. Around the other side of the fort you can see the city’s bustling port and airport. The fort itself is perfectly intact and has a free museum inside which documents it’s entire history which is really interesting as it was an incredibly strategic advantage point. Through time whoever controlled Montjuïc also controlled Barcelona. There are refreshment cafes at the top to quench your thirst after the climb in the sun. On your way down it is well worth stopping off at the swimming pool which is situated about a third of the way up the hill. Despite being lower down the views from the pool side are still absolutely stunning and it is a very pleasant end to the day after your climb!
Poble Sec also has some of the cheapest bars and tapas restaurants in the city. In the city centre you can find many a tourist trap with expensive tapas of not very good quality. In Poble Sec you find more spots that the locals go to and these are the ones you want to find! My pick of the bunch would be Casa Xica the food is influenced by the chefs’ time in Asia but also by the availability of produce at local markets, which is why the menu changes about every three weeks. Aside from the food, the wines make the visit worthwhile; the wine list is composed of natural wines which rotate regularly to match the menu. If you’re not familiar with natural wines, ask the staff, and they’ll gladly help you choose something to your taste.
So if you are looking for something slightly away from the tourist hot spots in the city centre head through Raval up to Poble Sec and enjoy a wide variety of local Barcelona culture.