Barcelona’s squares and plazas are the very essence of city life. Places where locals and visitors alike come to meet friends, relax and enjoy a drink or a meal.
From large imposing plazas surrounded by elegant buildings to tiny squares where children can run and play, there are literally hundreds of squares of all sizes scattered throughout the city.
In this post, we take look at ten of Barcelona’s most charming and picturesque plazas.
10 Charming Squares and Pretty Plazas in Barcelona
1. Plaça de Sant Felip Neri
Arguably the prettiest square in Barcelona, Plaça de Sant Felip Neri takes its name from the small baroque church which occupies one side of the plaza. Built on the site of a medieval graveyard, the focal point of the square is an octagonal stone fountain which is shaded by two tall trees.
The tiny square is flanked by a handful of gothic buildings, one of which houses a small museum. Another is a primary school, whose pupils can frequently be seen playing in the square.
A small metal plaque recounts the tragic history of a bombing raid during the Spanish Civil War which cost the lives of 42 children and badly damaged the façade of the church and the other buildings which line the square.
In 2000 American rock band Evanescence featured the square to good effect in the video for their song My Immortal.
2. Plaça Reial
Possibly the liveliest plaza in Barcelona, Plaça Reial is also one of the most elegant squares in the city. Built during the second half of the nineteenth century, the Neoclassical style square is lined with elegant apartment buildings which were once the homes of Barcelona’s wealthier residents.
Nowadays Plaça Reial is best known for its nightlife and is home to a selection of bars, restaurants and music venues including Sidecar, Jamboree, Los Tarantos and Pipa Club. By day, both tourists and locals come to relax at the al fresco bars and restaurants which line the plaza.
In addition to being one of the few remaining colonnaded squares in Barcelona, Plaça Reial also boasts an impressive fountain (El Font de les Tres Gràcies) and a collection of unusual streetlamps which were designed by Antoni Gaudí.
3. Plaça Prim
The delightful Plaça Prim is located near the beach in the oldest part of Barcelona’s Poblenou neighbourhood.
Surrounded by two story whitewashed fishermen’s houses, similar to those which can be found in coastal villages on the Costa Brava or the Balearic Islands, the square is commonly refered to as Plaça dels Pescadors (Fishermen’s plaza).
A cast-iron fountain provides water to passers-by as they seek out the shade of the square’s three super gnarly Ombu trees. The Ombu tree (Latin name: Phytolacca dioica) is a large evergreen shrub that is native to Argentina and can be found in several parks in Barcelona.
Situated just a few metres from the charming Rambla del Poblenou, Plaça Prim is home to what is said to be one of the best fish and seafood restaurants in Barcelona, Els Pescadors.
4. Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol & Plaça del Pi
The Gothic Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi (St. Mary of the Pine) was built in the fourteenth century to replace a smaller Romanesque church. The basilica was originally flanked by three small cemeteries. During the sixteenth century, the cemeteries were covered over and converted into plazas: Plaça del Pi, Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol and the smaller Plaçeta del Pi.
The Basilica was named after a lone pine tree that grows in one corner of the square and where legend has it, a statue of the Virgin Mary was found. Over the centuries, the tree has been replaced several times. The current tree was planted during the 1980s.
At the weekends the squares host two interesting markets:
Fira del Col·lectiu d’Artesans d’Alimentació
The first and third weekends of the month, from Friday to Sunday, there’s a small food market in Plaça del Pi with a handful of stalls selling locally produced cheese, cured meats, sausages, cakes and honey. In the run-up to Christmas, the market also opens during the week.
More information here.
Mostre d’Art dels Pintors del Pi
A bustling artists market takes place every weekend in Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol. A total of forty local artists set up stalls in front of the basilica. Even if you don’t plan on purchasing a painting, it’s a picturesque and colourful market to visit.
More information here.
5. Plaça de la Sagrada Família
Barcelona’s most iconic landmark, La Sagrada Família, has been under construction for over a century. When building started in 1882, the basilica was surrounded by open space but over the years apartment buildings have grown up around it, mostly built during the first half of the twentieth century.
Either side of the basilica there are two squares where you can enjoy views of Gaudí’s masterpiece. To the north east, Plaça de Gaudí is a small garden with a lake in the middle that is a popular spot for taking photos of the church.
To the south west, Plaça de la Sagrada Família is an attractive tree-filled park crisscrossed by gravel paths. There are plenty of benches where you can take a break from sightseeing, shaded from the heat of the mid-day sun.
6. Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell
Tucked away in the narrow streets of the neighbourhood which is commonly refered to as El Born (real name Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera). Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell takes its name from the convent which stood here until the start of the eighteenth century when, like the majority of buildings in the area, it was torn down to make way for a huge citadel.
Flanked by a handful of tiny bars and restaurants, and shaded by tall London Plane trees, the tranquil rectangular plaza has a real village square feel to it. In the middle of the plaza stands a replica of the Canaletas fountain, eight of which can be found in squares throughout the city.
7. Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
The Vila de Gràcia was once an independent town outside of Barcelona. Despite being annexed during the twentieth century, the neighbourhood still retains its own distinct identity. Famous for its alternative shops, artsy boutiques and lively nightlife, wherever you go in Gràcia you’ll find picturesque plazas, several of which were shortlisted to appear in this article. In August the neighbourhood hosts its annual Festa Major which attracts visitors from around the world.
Watched over by an imposing thirty three metre tall clock tower, in addition to being super picturesque, the Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia is one of the neighbourhood’s liveliest plazas. The square is lined with cafés, bars and restaurants that are frequented by a mix of local residents and visitors.
In addition to being one of the focal points of the Festas de Gràcia, La Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia hosts events throughout the year including concerts and displays of Castells (Human Towers) as well as the occasional political demonstration.
8. Plaça del Duc de Medinaceli
Located in the Gothic Quarter, close to the Port Vell harbour, Plaça del Duc de Medinaceli, is a small, dusty plaza surrounded by tall palm trees and elegant buildings that exude an air of faded grandeur. Built on the site of a thirteenth century convent which was demolished in 1837, the square is named after the family who donated the land for its construction.
In the centre of the square stands a monument to Galceran Marquet, a fourteenth-century Catalan admiral who famously led Barcelona’s navy against the Genoese Fleet in 1331. The base of the monument is a fountain with three bronze statues of mermen and mythical fishes.
Plaça del Duc de Medinaceli appears briefly in the film All About my Mother by Pedro Almodóvar, when Rosa (Penelope Cruz) encounters her father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, as he walks their dog Sapic.
9. Plaça de Santa Maria
The tiny plaza of Santa Maria is home to one of the best known churches in Barcelona, La Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, aka the Cathedral of the Sea. Other places to visit nearby include the Picasso Museum, La Palau de la Musica Catalana and El Mercat del Born.
Flanked by pastel-coloured Gothic styled buildings, and normally busy with people, there are several tapas bars where you can sit outside and enjoy a coffee or a beer as you watch the world hurry by.
While you’re here, if you have a sweet tooth, make sure you check out the cakes and other sweet treats that are on offer at the Bubó cake shop (Carrer de le Caputxes number 10).
10. Plaça de la Concordia
Les Corts is another Barcelona neighbourhood which, up until the late nineteenth century, was a town in its own right.
Not all that far from the city centre, yet way off the well-beaten tourist trail, Plaça de La Concordia, gives a glimpse of what life in Barcelona may have been like at the beginning of the twentieth century.
In addition to the imposing Santa Maria del Remei parish church, the square is flanked by a handful of Modernista (Catalan Art Nouveau) style buildings including Can Deu. Once the home of a rich industrialist, Can Deu is now a civic centre, the ground floor of which has been converted into a restaurant and terrace.