The next stop on our Barcelona odyssey is Sant Antoni. Here's a little history and some things you can see in the barri...
Sant Antoni technically forms part of the plan Cerdà, the extension of Barcelona beyond the old city walls, taking its name from the old Sant Antoni gate out of the city. However this particular barri has a slightly different feel from other parts of the upmarket Eixample. Its proximity to El Raval and el Poble Sec, both neighbourhoods known for their slightly rough around the edges past makes Sant Antoni, which borders both, a stepping stone between them and the more exclusive areas of the Eixample Esquerra.
One of the defining features of the barri is the Mercat de Sant Antoni, a fantastic example of iron architecture. Built to find a hygienic solution to distribute food throughout the new neighbourhood, the market was designed by Modernista architect Antoni Rovira i Trias in 1872 and occupies a whole block. It is actually shaped like a cross and points north, south, east and west. The vitality of this market is partly due to the fact that it actually holds 3 different types of market in one building: food inside, women’s clothes and accessories just outside and on Sunday book, magazine and videogame stalls are also set up along the perimeter. From 2009 extensive rehabilitation work has been underway on the original market structure, due for completion in 2014/2015. Once the work has been carried out you can be sure that this is one Barcelona market you definitely won’t want to miss.
Sant Antoni holds its own neighbourhood festival in January and is slightly different from others around the city. Taking place in January to honour the day of Saint Anthony Abad after whom the neighbourhood is named, the main event is a parade on horseback known as Els Tres Tombs including the mounted police and various beautiful carts and carriages. As Saint Anthony Abad was the patron saint and protector of pets, this festival celebrates and is used to bless all household animals.
During the past few years Sant Antoni has also undergone a transformation of sorts, more and more new and trendy cafés and bars are springing up, it’s home to one of the few art house cinemas in the city with Renoir Floridablanca, and I don’t know if it’s just me but there seem to be more men with big beards and fixie bikes than there ever were before… The in-crowd knows it, and now so do you, Sant Antoni is simply the coolest place to hang out in Barcelona at the moment.