Passeig de Gràcia is one of Barcelona’s most alluring fashion destinations. This tree-lined avenue, which stretches for 1.3km through the central Eixample district, is home to some of the Catalan capital’s most celebrated architectural delights, as well as prestigious luxury stores, five-star hotels and must-visit restaurants, providing more than enough entertainment for a sunny day in Barcelona.
The history of the Passeig
It seems hard to believe that this elegant avenue started as a humble country lane connecting Barcelona to what was then the separate town of Gràcia. In the 1820s, however, the road was widened, and it soon became a popular meeting point for the local aristocracy, who would gather to parade up and down in their fine horse-drawn carriages. By the end of the 19th century, Passeig de Gràcia had begun to acquire the grand buildings by some of Spain’s most innovative architects that line the street today and help to give it its unique character. No detail was overlooked; the intricately decorated benches and street lights that are still a talking point today were designed in 1906 by Pere Falqués i Urpí.
Since then, the street’s prestigious reputation has only grown, with the best in international fashion names making themselves at home here. One of these not-to-be-missed stores is that of Spanish brand Rabat, renowned for its fine jewellery. Opened in 2014, the boutique occupies several storeys of an elegant modernist building dating from 1898, and provides plenty of space in which to display both Rabat’s latest chic, contemporary designs and carefully chosen pieces by some of the world’s leading names in watches and jewellery.
The recently opened Rolex boutique, in association with Spanish jeweller Tous, offers an immersive experience that covers both the past and the future of the Swiss brand. The store, which occupies a noteworthy rationalist building from 1934, carries the full range of Rolex’s watches. Visitors can explore the exhibition area, which provides an insight into the brand’s rich history; see the brand’s craftspeople in action through the windows into a workshop; and even test any watch in extreme conditions and temperatures – a great function for any seasoned traveller. The intimate and exclusive feel of the boutique provides the perfect environment in which to buy a new high-end timepiece.
Among the many fashion brands with a presence on Passeig de Gràcia, Kenzo is an insider favourite. Founded in 1970 by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, the brand has always been known for contemporary womenswear featuring bold prints and playful designs. Its enticing window displays always catch the attention of passers-by, and this season’s collection – a clever homage to the heyday of 70s disco – is sure to draw many into the boutique to explore more.
A stone’s throw away is the boutique of British designer Stella McCartney, which offers further sartorial treats for the most fashion-conscious visitors. Housed in a sharp, modernist building, it is the first of the designer’s Spanish stores, and carries her full womenswear, lingerie, childrenswear and accessories collections.
On 1 December 2016, FC Barcelona opened the doors to its largest store in central Barcelona, on Passeig de Gràcia. Fans of the world-famous football team will delight in the new space, which aims to become a point of reference for its fans across the world. Designed in collaboration with Nike, the new venue boasts 300 square metres of sales space across two floors. FC Barcelona fans can find all manner of products and services related to the football club, including the latest kits and exclusive merchandise, as well as a wide variety of Nike products, such as football boots, sneakers and sports training equipment. The impressive store aims to offer visitors everything they need to develop their full football potential and skill, regardless of age or experience.
Food and drink
Passeig de Gràcia and the area around it is also home to a plethora of inviting cafés, bars and restaurants. The very popular Tragaluz, just off the main strip on Passatge de la Concepció, serves modern Mediterranean cuisine in a light-filled setting featuring a glass and steel ceiling and open kitchen. The menu changes according to the season, but look out for dishes such as Escala anchovies, capers, parmesan and roasted red pepper on slender strips of toast or sticky slow-cooked beef with caramelised shallots and mashed potatoes.
Another alternative is Pau Claris 190, situated on the street of the same name that runs parallel to Passeig de Gràcia, which has sophisticated vintage-inspired décor and a warm atmosphere. Dine by candlelight on dry-aged duck breast with a coffee and orange reduction, or French rack of lamb with an apple and potato mash: either will provide a perfect end to a busy day exploring Passeig de Gràcia.