Barcelona is one of the Spanish cities that receives more tourists. And that tourism that was concentrated in the center of the city is now expanding to the outlying neighborhoods. Nevertheless, there are still places little known to tourists, such as Vallvidreraan old municipality now integrated into the Vallvidrera, Tibidabo and Les Planes neighbourhoods, which is part of the Sarrià-San Gervasi district.
Vallvidrera, a bit of history
Vallvidrera is a peripheral neighborhood of Barcelona, which does not mean marginal, since it is the neighborhood with the highest income in the city. It is located in the upper part of the Collserola mountain range, between Sarrià and Tibidabo and at the foot of the Norman Foster communications tower.
The main nucleus is located on the Vallvidrera and Vinyassa mountains, at about 350 meters above sea level. The old residential nucleus of Vallvidrera was closely linked to the church of Santa María de Vallvidrera, a temple of which there are documentary records from the year 987.
Between 1570 and 1587 the building of the current church was erected following the late Gothic style. Already in the seventeenth century it was restored and until the Civil War it was open for worship. The town developed around this church, despite this, It was always a very sparsely populated nucleus with a scattered population.
In 1890 Vallvidrera was incorporated into the municipality of Sarrià which, in turn, was annexed to the Ciudad Condal in 1921.
Vallvidrera in the 19th century
At the end of the 19th century, Vallvidrera became a summer resort for the people of Barcelona. It was an ideal destination to get away from the murky, polluted air of the city, which at the time was surrounded by factory chimneys.
Thus, Vallvidrera became an ideal space for the bourgeoisie who, during their vacation periods, fled to the top of the mountain in search of tranquility and clean air. Hotels were built and the wealthy classes built their second homes there.
Some of them are buildings of great architectural interest. The vast majority of them are modernist in style, and for this reason they are cataloged in the special plans for the protection of the architectural heritage of the Barcelona City Council.
Among these modernist buildings the tower Sant Joan Baptista and Vil la Pepita can be mentioned, both built by the master builder Ramón Ribera i Rodríguez. Also of interest are Vil·la Consol, Vil·la Rosa or Vil·la Molitor, the latter in the modernist style of Central European tradition.
Vil la Joana deserves a special mention, a manor house from 1708 in the neoclassical style, renovated during the 19th century and the deathbed of the poet Jacint Verdaguer (1902). In 1922 it was acquired by the Barcelona City Council. Later, in 1962, a museum dedicated to the memory of the poet who died there was set up, depending on the Barcelona History Museum.
Hotel Buenos Aires
The Hotel Buenos Aires, a jewel of modernist architecture, opened its doors in 1886. In 1910, Jeroni Granell, author of the stained glass windows of the Palau de la Música, was commissioned to remodel the building. This incorporated a modernist dining room with impressive views of the city.
The way to make reservations is very interesting. They took place from a store on La Rambla that sent a carrier pigeon that went with the reservation to the hotel’s loft.
Today it has become a busy social center. Its objective is to recover the building to maintain it as Vallvidrera’s historical heritage, create a community housing project and open the space to the residents of the neighbourhood. They try to avoid the sale of the building to a British company to build a luxury hotel.
What can we see in Vallvidrera?
To get to Vallvidrera you can do it with the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC). You can get off at the Baixador de Vallvidrera or Peu funicular stops.
If you do it in the first You can walk to Vil la Joana, the church of Santa María de Vallvidrera or the Vallvidrera reservoir. This reservoir was inaugurated in 1864 with the purpose of being a drinking water reserve for the then municipality of Sarrià. It is currently being recovered as a leisure space.
From the Peu del Funicular stop You will have the possibility of going up to the main center of Vallvidrera in a funicular built in 1906. This means of transport is integrated into ATM. This means that you can travel with the same ticket that you use on the metro, bus, Renfe or FGC commuter trains.
Once in the main center, you can admire the modernist buildings, take a look at the House of Buenos Aires or relax admiring the city from above. Also, if you wish, you can take a bus that will take you to Tibidabo in less than ten minutes. If you prefer to walk, in just half an hour you can reach the city’s mythical amusement park.