Zigzagging between valleys and hills in the northeast of the city, and stepping into the Collserola range, the Horta-Guinardó district is the third largest in Barcelona. An area with a rural past and abundant vegetation, it provides some surprising views from the many viewpoints in its neighbourhoods, like those of the Tres Turons hills.
Its thousand-year history, represented by the Sant Genís dels Agudells neighbourhood and its Romanesque church, includes the surroundings of the old rural centre of Horta, which extended into the present-day Vall d’Hebron, formerly known as the Vall d’Horta, and gradually integrated all of the 11 neighbourhoods that make up the district.
Far from the city's main hub, the industrial and population growth of Horta-Guinardó was slow and, traditionally, closely linked to the abundance of water in the area, to the extent that, at the beginning of the 20th century, the old part of today's Horta neighbourhood was renowned for its cottage industry of washerwomen. Another example of this water-based economic activity was the distribution and sale of water from the Font d’en Fargues, famous at the turn of the 20th century.
Between hills and fertile valleys
The massive industrialisation in Barcelona at the end of the 19th century did not reach Horta until the 1950s, and throughout this time the area maintained the independent, rural character which it still has today. One example of this is the Clota neighbourhood, which its characteristically agricultural appearance. Thanks to this, and the pride of its residents, some of the farmhouses and great mansions from the time, like Can Cortada, Can Fargas, Can Soler and Can Baró, are still standing, transformed into spaces with a variety of different uses.
Today, Horta's old quarter, with its little streets and village-like feel as well as its Modernista extension, is one of the liveliest and most commercial neighbourhoods in the district.
Other, working-class neighbourhoods which make up a unique group are El Carmel, Can Baró and La Teixonera. Located in the Turó del Carmel foothills, they have a simple, working-class atmosphere provided by the locals, as well as the families who arrived from all over Spain after the war: little houses lined up along steep streets, little squares with bars and green parks full of life, among which the well-known Turó de la Rovira viewpoint, from where you can get one of the best 360º vistas of the city, stands out.
Higher up, on Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron, touching Montbau, is one of the most important of Horta-Guinardó's treasures: the Laberint d’Horta, a natural retreat and a historically important location in Barcelona, and no wonder, as it was the city's first park, created in the 18th century.
Guinardó and Baix Guinardó, located at the lowest point of the district, were previously part of the village of Sant Martí. They are fertile neighbourhoods, with a history full of very interesting episodes, including, for example, the role played by Mas Guinardó in the events of 1714. We are talking about an area of outstanding green spaces, parks like the magnificent Parc de les Aigües, that of Príncep de Girona and the one in Guinardó, and gardens, like the Jardins de Frederica Montseny.
As mentioned before, in Horta-Guinardó there are reminders of a not-so-distant rural past: little houses, narrow streets, parks, farmhouses and residents who live outside the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city, people who, from their lofty heights, can afford to look down on the other Barcelona residents.