Image by Sara Blaylock
Running routes: Nou Barris
Nou Barris – 4.8km in the 21st-century city
Nou Barris (lit. Nine Neighbourhoods) is characterised by recent changes to Barcelona's urban planning. Like Ildefonso Cerda's 19th-century Eixample design, Nou Barris was plotted to provide leisure spaces within uniform urban housing. However, Nou Barris uses more triangles and cement forms than eight-sided blocks; and the 'patios', rather than on the insides of building complexes, spill onto the street like tributaries to the district's carefully devised parks. The buildings and plazas are fairly new, and most were constructed in the Fifties and Sixties when an influx of immigrants from other regions of Spain arrived in Barcelona. Many complexes have buildings that circle around each other, an urban utopian design meant to engage community within dense and often anonymous housing.
This run starts you at a more traditional Barcelona park and passes you through two modern 'green' spaces. The first, Parc del Turó de la Peira, circles around a 140-metre hill, a peak that provides excellent views of the city from seaside to hillside. Classified as an 'urban park', Parc del Turó de la Peira includes spaces for community activity—three playgrounds and a smattering of picnic tables fill its nooks and crannies.
After meandering through Parc del Turó de la Peira, you'll jog past Parc Central de Nou Barris on the way to Parc de la Guineueta. As you run through Guineueta (a name derived from the Catalan word for fox, guineu), notice the way the park divides its spaces, providing an area for everybody. At any given moment, you'll pass groups of chess players at war on picnic tables, bunches of primary school children jumping around and friends chatting on shaded benches. The careful layout was devised in the district urbanisation plan from 1956 and the park was completed in 1970.
Guineueta continues to serve its purpose as a multi-community meeting ground. Troupes of sardana dancers, for instance, regularly perform traditional Catalan music and dance in the park. Andalusian cultural groups use the park to celebrate regional holidays. Every first Sunday of March (Andalusia Day), the park hosts a floral offering to a monument to the region and Blas Infante (the Andalusian hero who fought for regional sovereignty and who was killed under Franco for his beliefs).
After exiting Parc de la Guineueta, you’ll run through a central point of Nou Barris (Plaça de Llucmajor) while heading to the Parc Central de Nou Barris. Completed in 2007, the park was constructed to provide more open spaces for the neighbourhood. Largely composed of cement plazas interconnected by ramps, the park design represents a modern twist on urban landscaping which values functionality in dense spaces over vegetation and lawns. Designers found inspiration in Pablo Picasso’s early Cubist and colourful pictures, a body of work the artist began during his formative years in Barcelona.
Once you've toured this modern landscape, return to the parkside tradition in Parc del Turo de la Peira. Complete the loop you started at the beginning of the run and relish in the cityscape.
- A visit to an urban utopian design
- Unusual park spaces.
- A great deal of cement in parks
- Many pedestrians filling the pavements and park paths.