Poblenou, sometimes Poble Nou, or even Pueblo Nuevo (in Spanish, as opposed to Catalan) is the most well-known neighbourhood in Sant MartГ district in Barcelona, bordering El Clot to the north, La Vila OlГmpica to the west, Diagonal Mar to the east, and the Mediterranean sea to the south.
Sant MartГ, just like many other districts of modern Barcelona, used to be a separate town and only joined the city in 1897. By that time, Poblenou was already known as the Catalan Manchester due to the high concentration of factories and industrial workshops in the area. Apart from the booming industry, the neighbourhood had only had worker residential areas and not much else, so when the local industrial revolution was over, the land prices rose up and many factories closed or moved, Poblenou was left with nothing but decaying and faceless quarters for the post-World War II and Franco years.
When Barcelona was picked as the host for 1992 Summer Olympic Games, the spirit of transformation of the city that saw the building of Vila OlГmpic and the arenas in MontjuГЇc, didn't leave Poblenou untouched. The 22@ urban project was introduced, whose main focus was turning Poblenou into a hip urban area that would attract technological firms, creative professionals and promote innovation. The most visible preliminary result of the still ongoing project is the completed construction of modern office and business spaces that now make up the heart of Poblenou. Many of the buildings merit their own design awards and are great examples of ultra-modern Spanish architecture.
After the 1992 Summer Olympics came and gone, and the influx of foreign visitors transformed Barcelona as a whole into a desirable tourist destination, Poblenou started attracting a crowd of its own: young professionals and artists looking for more laid-back lifestyle, more affordable housing prices and a creative vibe started settling in the neighbourhood, turning it into a lively yet still calm place, where bustling commerce streets slice through tranquil residential areas. Numerous empty industrial spaces that lay abandoned for years were converted into art studios, galleries and lofts.
Today, Poblenou is still an up-and-coming trendy neighbourhood in Barcelona, popular thanks to its beaches, the impressive Rambla del Poblenou, a beautiful old cemetery and a selection of hip bars and good restaurants just waiting to be discovered. The housing prices are still more affordable and the tourist crowds, while present, are still less numerous than in Ciutat Vella... and the Poblenou locals like to keep it that way!