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Boho Barcelona: Vintage, Coffee and Galleries

Author: Kristina Shvets 10 places in route

Travel GuidesSpainBarcelonaBoho Barcelona: Vintage, Coffee and Galleries
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There is hardly any city that can boast such energy and freedom like Barcelona. It welcomes all sorts of artists, writers and creative idlers who search for inspiration. The city is rich in design schools, and every second flat in the Gothic quarter is rented by designers, sculptors and architects. This walk will guide you around places where you would feel Barcelona's bohemian atmosphere to the full.

Plaza Mercè
Plaza Mercè

The baroque church of Madonna the Merciful (Basílica de la Mercè) is named after one of the most revered Madonnas of Barcelona. This church's feast on the 24th of September is celebrated as the major city holiday, and after each victory in a tournament Barca players come here for a blessing. Near the entrance there is a charming square with a fountain and a small terrace of Parisseria La Mercè. You can take a seat there, pay two-something euros for a couple of delicious tart shells and a coffee, and try to recall the first scene of a movie "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" that was filmed here.

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Plaza de George Orwell
Plaza de George Orwell

This square with rich history is commonly known as Plaza del Tripi, due to drugdealers and their clients who until recently were spending most of their time here, especially at night. A huge surrealistic sculpture towering in the middle reminds a film camera, while the perimeter is watched by CCTV cameras. In other words, "Big Brother is watching you".

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Base Elements
Base Elements

Base Elements gallery is known for its collection of street art. For example, they have shown works of Pez, who painted his smiling fish all over Barcelona, and Francisco de Pajara, whose funny stickmen labelled "El arte es una basura" (Art is garbage) can also be seen here and there around town. The ground floor hosts a small studio where artists give workshops and share their experience. The owner's main goal was not simply to open yet another street art gallery, but create a space where such art could be best understood and evaluated.

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Els Quatre Gats
Els Quatre Gats

One of the most famous restaurants in the city. Translated from Catalan, the title says "Four cats". It is known mostly by its old fame as the main rendezvous of the Bohemia and its visitors, among whose were Antonio Gaudi, Isaac Albeniz and Pablo Picasso. It is here where the first exhibition of Picasso's works was held. After that he painted the restaurant's menu that has been used ever since. Nowadays it is popular only among tourists, that's why the staff can be rather arrogant. Nevertheless, the food here is great and elevated prices can be forgiven due to the rich history of the place.

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Xarcutería La Pineda
Xarcutería La Pineda

In the narrow streets of the Barri Gotic there is a place that preserves its traditions since the beginning of the 20th century and still offers its visitors the best traditional Catalonian products. If the line of people craving for Spanish sausages is to long, and you don't feel like waiting, go deeper inside the store – there are tables and you can kill time with a glass of rioja.

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L'Arca de l'Àvia
L'Arca de l'Àvia

The atmospheric boutique sells unique vintage items ranging from veiled hats to brooches, pendants, braces, jewelry and monogrammed handkerchiefs. The store partners with major Spanish designers, stylists and costume designers for over 40 years – mainly all costumes from the Titanic movie come from here.

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Arlequín Máscaras
Arlequín Máscaras

This magical store sells handmade masks. You will be amazed with the choice – veiled, velvet, funny – they have masks of all styles and sizes for quite affordable prices (though all masks are hand-painted). A great option for the next masquerade. Be sure — there are no chances to meet anyone wearing the same mask.

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L'Antic Teatre
L'Antic Teatre

A small theatre with varied plays is known for, amongst other things, by its bar terrace, one of the most beautiful in the city. It is in its inner yard with a huge tree growing in the middle, so tables and chairs stand right on its roots sticking from the ground. The place is always full of hippies, street musicians, actors and other local bohemians. The best thing to do is buy some home-made vermouth, a plate of olives and discuss philosophic matters – the setting is perfect for it.

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El Mariatchi
El Mariatchi

A small and rather nondescript bar lost in the lanes and alleys of the Barri Gotic is rumoured to belong to Manu Chao. It is not true, though he can be seen here quite often, and sometimes even gives small performances with local musicians. Order some of the local liqueur "hydromiel" or a glass of Pacharan digestif, so adored by the Basques. You can also buy a bottle of some local drink – it will make a good present.

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Ocaña Bar
Ocaña Bar

This one is the most beautiful dance bars in Barcelona. The huge space is separated into several zones – a restaurant, a couple of bars and a veranda, each has a design of its own, like Moroccan lounge or a dim salon with chandeliers and candles. The lower floor has an old-school photo booth where for three euros you can get a great pic with your friends. Weekends are time for local DJs and super fancy folks. Local cocktails are as impeccable as anything here – if you doubt what to order ask a bartender or go for Strawberry Mojito or Moscow Mule and then straight to the dance floor.

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