A small corner of Barcelona's Cuitat Vella, or Old City, El Born lies just south of La Ribera, close to the city’s coastal ports. With its narrow streets and historic squares teeming with cafés, El Born is full of character and a perfect place to escape the bustle of the city’s more touristy areas.
The tree-lined Passeig del Born is at the heart of the district, casting off its origins as a medieval jousting arena in favor of a modern shopping and nightlife hub, presided over by the imposing façade of the gothic St Mary of the Sea Cathedral. A cosmopolitan blend of locals and tourists fill the square’s many tapas restaurants, cocktail lounges and chic wine bars during the evening hours, making it the perfect place to unwind after a day’s sightseeing or catch up with friends in some of the city’s most fashionable haunts.
El Born also houses some of the city’s key attractions, most significantly the Parc de la Ciutadella, or Ciutadella Park, a 74-acre park centered around the striking Catalan Parliament building and fronted by the impressive Arc de Triomf. Barcelona Zoo is also part of the park, home to around 7,500 animals including dolphins, orangutans and snow leopards. The streets also harbor a collection of fascinating museums including the Picasso museum, devoted to the iconic Spanish artist; the Textile Museum, which pays tribute to the area’s humble beginnings as a textile manufacturing site; the unique Mammoth museum; and a Chocolate Museum.