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Running routes: Les Corts
Les Corts: Five kilometres, pass a palace, smell the roses and peek in on a football game
Running through Les Corts means a nice flat path, but its location at the base of the city’s hilltop Sarrià-Sant Gervasi district still provides excellent vistas. In fact, this run offers a particularly clear vantage of Montjuïc and a money-can't-buy peek at any Barça home game.
Before this run brings you to these heady lookouts, it’ll take you through the gardens of the Palau Reial de Pedrables (Royal Palace of Pedrables). The palace, minus its left and right wings, was once the home of the Guëll family, famous for supporting the works of Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi. In the Twenties, wings were added and the palace became a summer home for Spanish royalty holidaying in Barcelona. In 1931, the Ministry of Finance donated the building and its gardens to the City Council and it's been public ever since. The palace presently houses the Ceramic Museum and the Museum of Decorative Arts.
Gaudí fans look sharp: across the palace stands an elaborate fountain. Just behind it, tucked amid a thick patch of bamboo, you'll find the artist's Fuente de Hércules, a pretty corner fountain recognisable by its twisting iron spout. In fact, if you are especially ambitious, get outside the garden and find the Pavellons Guëll, just north of the Palau Reial. This fortified garden, protected by an incredible iron dragon-bat gate, consists of one portion of the grand country estate of Gaudí's greatest benefactor and hosts many gems. Hard to imagine, but until it was integrated into the city in 1897, Les Corts was, basically, countryside.
After you leave the Palau Reial de Pedrables, you will run along Avinguda Diagonal on a tree-covered pedestrian/bicycle-only pass. After a short while, you will arrive at a wide sand-covered path, entering Parc de Cervantes, a glorious seven+ hectare garden that has somehow been left off the Barcelona Google Map. Such an oversight for such a place...
I suggest you go up the steps to your left first. They lead you to the Roserar de Cervantes, an elegant rose garden replete with some 10,000 rose bushes in 2,000 different species and varieties from across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. While the roses bloom their brightest between May and July, the rest of the year still promises happy running.
After a 3/4 circuit around the rose bushes, Camp Nou appears in the east. Imagine these red and blue stands full. Or, better yet, plan your run for game day when the stands pulse with Barça's adorers.
After you lap the outland of the park (passing droves of cars on their way to or from the freeway, Ronda de Dalt and Diagonal), head back to Palau Reial de Pedralbes. Make one final loop and you're done.
o Sandy pathways through two ornately groomed gardens
o Tucked-away rose garden
o Gaudí treasures
o Close enough to Sarrià-Sant Gervasi that runners from that district may choose this run, too
o Free nosebleed seats to Camp Nou events.
o Stair climbs
o Parks do not open until 10am.