Where Barcelona’s Neighborhoods’ names come from
Have you ever wondered about how the Barcelona neighborhoods got their names? Well, I often did. That’s why I decided research and then disclose to you how each of Barcelona’s neighborhoods got their names. History played a significant role, that’s for sure.
1. L’ Eixample
Eixample means “extension”. Baffled? Well, so was I when I got to know. Well, it actually makes sense as the reason is the city’s expansion in the mid-19th century, due to the over-population of the old town, Ciutat Vella. The new area, consisting of a systematic grid pattern of long straight streets crossed by wide avenues, was designed be the Catalan civil engineer Illdefons Cerdà. In order to gain greater visibility and allow car parking, the buildings were placed at a 45º angle. The following photo is to clarify what I’m talking about:
The beautiful Gràcia neighborhood got its name from a convent called “Nostra Senyora de Gràcia”, which literally means “Our Lady of Grace”, established there by a Novitiate of Carmelites, a Roman Catholic religious order. The impressive fact about that neighborhood is that it used to be an independent town until 1897, when it was annexed to the city of Barcelona.
As the name implies the neighborhood Gótico is called like that because of the amount of buildings it has in the Gothic architecture style. It presents the center of the old city of Barcelona.
4. Les Corts
Well, to understand the origin of the name of the Les Corts neighborhood some knowledge of the Latin language is required. “Cohortes” means “rural houses” and refers to the Roman villas standing there before the urbanization of the area in the 20th century.
5. El Borne
Once again, the name of this neighborhood refers to the past. El Borne got its name from the medieval jousting tournaments that took place on the main street of the neighborhood Passeig de Born.
6. Vila Olimpica
As the name betrays, this modern neighborhood of Barcelona got its name from the purpose it was constructed for: the Olympic Games in 1992, which took place in Barcelona.
7. Diagonal Mar
You probably have heard about the Avenue Diagonal… Barcelona’s neighborhood Diagonal Mar got that name for the simple reason that it is situated where the avenue meets the sea, el mar. Not that creative, huh?
8. Poble Sec
“Poble sec” is Catalan and means “dry village”. This neighborhood got its name from the lack of fountains in the area until 1894.
The name “Poblenou”, which is to say “new village” refers to the impressive change and development of the area started in 2000 and still going on, due to the industrial regression in the 60s. Implementing the so called plan 22@, the area is converted into an innovative and modern district, where former factory buildings welcome new economic activities, design studios and residences adapted to changing times, standing on high quality of life.
In contrast to Poblenou, the origins of Barcelona’s neighborhood Sarria can be placed into the 13th-14th century. Its name comes from the name Sirriano, which appeared for the first time in 986.
11. Sant Gervasi
As you might assume, Sant Gervasi refers to a rural church, located in that lovely neighborhood, named after the saint San Gervasio in 987.
Barceloneta, associated usually with the always-packed beach close to the city center, owes its existence to the lands that were gained by the absorption of the Maians Island. The island was located a hundred meters from the coast of Barcelona and was absorbed by the city for the creation of the first port of Barcelona. Barcloneta, which means “small Barcelona”, totally suits to the neighborhood developed on a former island, don’t you think so?
13. El Raval
“Raval” is Arabic and means neighborhood or district. As I mentioned at the beginning, history embodies the most important parameter for the naming of Barcelona’s neighborhoods. Well, the Raval neighborhood shows that plainly as it got its name from the Arabic invasion in 711.
Interesting names stand for interesting places. Barcelona is a city influenced by Romans, Arabs and Christians which leads to a great deal of contrasts all over the city, totally worth it to visit or move here. Undoubtedly something I wouldn’t like to miss. What’s your favourite Barcelona neighborhood?