Monday, March 3, 2008

From modern Barcelona to an ancient Iberian village (Pueblo Iberico) - Part 1


Another of my other favorite day trips out of the city is to the archaeological remains of an ancient Iberian village, today called Puig Castellar, which sits atop Turó del Pollo, a hill overlooking one of Barcelona's neighboring cities: Santa Coloma de Gramenet.
.
By simply hopping on the metro and taking a nice walking out of Santa Coloma towards the hills, within a couple of hours you can be walking around the ruins of a 4th Century BC village and taking in magnificent views of the Mediterranean, Santa Coloma, Badalona and Barcelona. Here's the first part of the route:
.
An appropriate starting point is Barcelona's Plaza Urquinaona, since it lies at the foot of Via Laietana, the street that takes its name from the ancient Iberian people who inhabited this region thousands of years ago. From here take the Red line of the Metro to the Santa Coloma de Gramenet station. Take the Plaça Vila exit and you will be at the foot of one of the city's main squares, which holds the city hall building. (See photo above.) While none of the sidewalk cafes here are outstanding, most can be counted on to provide pleasant tapas, simple sandwiches and such. I suggest sitting here for a while to soak up the atmosphere and rest up before the next phase of the journey, which involves a walk through narrow neighborhood streets to a broad avenue several blocks away.
.
Next head north along quaint little Sant Carles Street, which runs along the west side of the plaza. On this quiet street you can find a tiny art museum, a small park (which holds another sidewalk cafe) a Japanese/Chinese restaurant that seems to be pretty popular (although I've never tried it myself), a little bread shop and many typical residences. Sant Carles ends at Sant Jeroni Street, where you turn to your right, then take an immediate left to go down one block onto Dr. Ferran Street. This street will take you to Pallaresa Avenue, which has a good selection of sidewalk cafes and restaurants lining the southeast side. The avenue itself is so wide that a public park stretches out in between its lanes.
.
Named Europa Park, this urban space opened in 1992, the year of the Barcelona Olympics. Extending from the Besos River to the hillsides, it consists of more than 59,000 square meters of greenery, walkways, sport zones and playgrounds. It's a place where people stroll, lie on the grass, do a little exercise or sit on a bench while enjoying the quiet that results from having contained the highway that runs through the neighborhood underground, rather than above ground. There are also some interesting sculptures in the park, including Olympia, a jumble of straight and curvilinear iron pieces, by a Swiss artist named Paul Suter.
.
Eventually, you need to head over to the other side of the avenue, where Dr. Ferran Street becomes Puig Castellar Avenue, to begin the uphill walk into the neighborhood below Puig Castellar and the surrounding hills. But this is where I will leave you now and take up again in Part II of my description of this day trip.
.
Hasta entonces amig@s,
.
Carloz

No comments: