Image by Sara Blaylock
Running routes: Sarria-Sant Gervasi
Sarrià-Sant Gervasi: Five kilometres, three parks and a dozen ponies
This is the run I'm most familiar with. Unfortunately, the loopy route I usually take does not translate to simple instruction. Thus, this run through Sarrià-Sant Gervasi involves passing through several major roads on the way to some of the district's nicest parks.
Sarrià-Sant Gervasi offers challenging, but beautiful running. That said, you can adjust the run as you see fit. For example, it is easy to add time and/or subtract hill climbs by running laps in the first two gardens you'll tour: Jardins de la Vil·la Amèlia and the Jardins de la Vil·la Cecilia.
Mid-run, you arrive at Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta, a former estate now overgrown with Mediterranean flora. This is a wonderland for exploration. A large and lush wooded area at the tip top of the district, the park links the city to Collserola (8,000 hectares of wilderness that forms the western border of Barcelona) and offers splendid views of everything from Sarrià-Sant Gervasi to the ocean. Don't forget to stop to take a look and catch your breath. You don't want to miss it after those hills! In fact, breathe deeply. On warm, clear days, the smell of eucalyptus is particularly invigorating and city air probably can't get any cleaner than this.
Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta also has the remains of a 'castle' (actually a grand estate) once inhabited by area dignitaries. Since 1978, the land has been a public park complete with wild vegetation, ponies and a choo-choo train. Please be careful as you scout the area as the crumbling ruins of the house often spill unpredictably onto the park pathways.
Indeed, be careful throughout this run. It's hard enough on the lungs and heart to climb hills, but coming down from the top of Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta's hilltop can be tough on sensitive knees. Walk down or widen your strides rather than suffer.
You'll find the other two gardens quite lovely, as well. Jardins de la Vil·la Cecilia houses one of the civic centres in Sarrià, as well as a basketball court. You'll enjoy the tall labyrinth-like shrubbery and canals that border the paths. Jardins de la Vil·la Amèlia is a bit bigger than Cecilia, with a greater variety of plants and trees. Public since 1930, the two gardens once comprised a single private garden estate owned by the family of Ignasi Girona. If you need a rest near the end of your run, Jardins de la Vil·la Amèlia has plenty of shaded benches and a perfectly charming outdoor café.
- Great views from Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta
- Soft ground to run on in parks
- Close enough to Les Corts that runners from both districts may choose this run too.
- Rough terrain, especially in Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta
- 2km+ of uphill running
- Run includes several busy streets
- Parks do not open until 10am.