A bustling shopping destination, Passeig de Gràcia is one of the most prestigious streets in Spain, and arguably the most famous luxury destination in Barcelona. Rumoured to be Spain’s most expensive street when it comes to property prices, it is home to many of the Catalonian capital’s top hotels and restaurants, as well as world-famous architecture, and boutiques from some of the world’s most sought-after designer brands.
Passeig de Gràcia has been a favourite haunt of the well-heeled and style-conscious since the early 19th century. It originally connected Barcelona and Gràcia, then a suburb of the city, and aristocrats flocked to the street to parade in their smart horse-drawn carriages. By 1897, when Gràcia was formally annexed to Barcelona, and the area between developed to form a new area called Eixample (‘the extension’), the Passeig had gone from being a road lined by fields to Barcelona’s most stylish street. As smart new residents moved in, businesses soon followed suit and exclusive stores shared space with some of the city’s finest mansions.
The street’s prestigious reputation has only increased over time, and today it is home to not only the best Spanish luxury labels but also the finest international brands. Passeig de Gràcia is now recognised worldwide as a shopping destination on a par with streets such as New York’s Fifth Avenue and Paris’s Champs-Élysées, offering everything from Prada and Valentino to Manolo Blahnik and Louis Vuitton.
Among the stars of the street’s retail landscape are some of Spain’s oldest stores, including acclaimed multi-brand boutique Santa Eulalia. Founded in 1843, it carries an expertly curated selection of the latest in luxury men’s and women’s fashion and accessories. As well as must-have items from everyone from long-established names to exciting emerging brands, the store has a bespoke atelier for tailoring, and has a café and a picturesque roof terrace.
For Santa Eulalia and the other businesses that call the street home, Passeig de Gràcia is far more than just a location – a fact reflected in the existence of a thriving local association. Established in 1952, L’Associació d’Amics del Passeig de Gràcia seeks to safeguard and protect the culture, inhabitants and interests of the area, and Santa Eulalia’s owner Luis Sans sits as its chair.
‘The Passeig de Gràcia is the most important commercial street in Barcelona,’ Sans explains. ‘It is one of the very few shopping streets in the world that, apart from the best stores, also has very good restaurants, hotels, museums and historical sites.’ Such a one-of-a-kind place merits a similarly prominent association to look after it, and Sans and his team work tirelessly to maintain the integrity of the Passeig and its surrounding area, ensuring that the stores, restaurants, hotels and cultural sights remain of a high standard for locals and visitors alike.
Two of the most important cultural attractions along the Passeig were designed by Spain’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudí. La Pedrera (also known as Casa Milà) and Casa Batlló, former aristocratic residences that now house museums, are prime example of Catalan modernism. Even so, they are by no means the only buildings of note. Since the early 20th century, the Passeig has been home to works by some of Spain’s most notable architects, including Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Pere Falqués i Urpi, who also designed the street’s ornate benches and street lamps.
With a location of this calibre, it is not surprising that some of the nation’s top chefs have chosen to open restaurants here. The two-Michelin star restaurant Moments takes Catalan culinary culture to the next level, offering a modern take on the region’s cuisine. Focusing on the finest fresh seasonal produce available, chef Carme Ruscalleda creates simple yet powerful dishes bursting with flavour.
Another award-winning restaurant is Roca Moo, overseen by El Celler de Can Roca and managed by chef Juan Pretel Roca. The menu is decidedly modern, with dishes such as cod, cauliflower and touches of orange proving both fresh and delicious.
It’s not just about award-winning names, however. There is a restaurant on Passeig de Gràcia to suit every taste and palate, from experimental gastronomy to traditional tapas, and with more opening each year it’s clear the street’s heyday is far from over.
Passeig de Gràcia offers myriad attractions, from its world-class array of stores and restaurants to its enduring cultural significance. With the association and its friends working hard to keep the area vibrant, with events such as the annual Christmas shopping night in late November, it seems likely that this famed street, representing the epicentre of luxury in Barcelona for well over a century, will continue to attract visitors from across the world for many years to come.