Best street art in Barcelona by Joel Arroyo

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Piece by Bronik, one of the top barcelona street artists

Street art in Barcelona: Graffiti artists and best places to see them

ULTIMATE BARCELONA URBAN ART GUIDE

Barcelona has had a difficult relationship with street art. It arrived to Barcelona in the 1980’s with the rise of rap music and American movies. The 1990’s were a golden age, with the city becoming the capital of graffiti in Europe despite the authorities starting to fine artists and clean away tags. In the mid-2000’s laws against vandalism made it really difficult to find surfaces to paint and getting permits required a discouraging amount of paperwork. But after the 2010’s the city council and other local institutions have promoted initiatives such as legal graffiti walls or street artists collaborations with cultural programs. Nowadays the city continues to spend thousands of euros each day to clean tags and graffiti, but mostly the walls: shutters, doors and windows are left for the owners to clean. And with the constant affluence of street artists and taggers, many owners end up giving up. And that’s were many artists flourish. So you while it’s a good idea to discover the art museums in Barcelona: the best art is in the streets!

When is the best time to see street art in Barcelona?

Since a lot of pieces are written on business shutters, the best time to see them is when the shops are closed. That is before 10AM or on Sundays. Another possibility is between 2PM and 4PM, during lunch break – although not all businesses will be closed. Nighttime is also a good moment, but it’ll be more difficult to take good pictures because there won’t be much light. DISCLAIMER: Street are is by definition temporary and perishable. I’ve tried to create an evergreen guide focusing more in the areas where artists work rather than specific pieces. But as the city evolves it’s unavoidable that some walls are turned down, or an area is washed away. Explore with an open mind and follow your instincts to go off the beaten path and play by ear.
Barcelona graffiti in the park of the Tres Xemeneies

Most famous street art in Barcelona

1

Parc de les Tres Xemeneies

The Parc de les Tres Xemeneies is a concrete esplanade next to what was once one of the first energy centrals of Barcelona. The three large smoke pipes (“xemeneies” in Catalan) remain, but the central has become an office building. Several walls around the building and the plaza are legal graffiti walls.

Anyone can book them online from the Wallspot.org  website or app, attraction both renowned local street artists as well as young talents. Of course, the artwork rotates very often, having been officially booked over 2700 times.

2

Keith Hering AIDS Mural

After Keith Haring (1958-1990) visited Spain in 1989, a friend suggested him to paint in Barcelona. He accepted and chose a very degraded area of El Raval frequented by drug addicts that abandoned their syringes there.

The piece was supposed to have a short life, since the wall was to be turned down as part of the plan of improvement of the district, but before that happened the specialists of the MACBA museum took a real-size carbon copy of it and some paint samples.

The mural you can see today is the replica installed next to the museum on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Haring’s original.

LOCATION: Plaça de Joan Coromines with Ferlandina st. (Raval)
CLOSEST SUBWAY STATIONS: Universitat (L1 and L2) and Plaça Catalunya (L1 and L3)

3

The world is born with each kiss

Not strictly a graffiti, but it certqainly qualifies as street art. In 2014, the fotographer Joan Fontcuberta created this wonderful photomosaic made of 4000 tiles featuring images supplied by readers of a local newspapers.

From close you can tell the content of each tile, but from a certain distance, just like a puntillist painting, the tiles lose their uniqueness to melt into one single image: two sensual mouths kissing.

LOCATION: Plaça d’Isidre Nonell (Gothic Quarter)
CLOSEST SUBWAY STATIONS: Plaça Catalunya (L1 and L3), Urquinaona (L1 and L4), Jaume I (L4)

Other Barcelona graffiti street art by district

4

Street Art in Poble Nou

Poblenou is a large district that was once an industrial area. These last years, the factories that were abandoned have started being restored and turned into the headquarters of media corporations, cultural and art centers, university faculties and new technologies labs.

But there’s still many unused buildings, what means a lot of attractive walls to paint. Plus he fact that the area has so many empty buildings gives tranquility to artists, that can work without the stress of being called out. That allows for a lot of great pieces by a variety of artists.

The district is very large, though, and the works are spread out. Be prepared to walk a lot, or maybe consider hiring a bike to explore it.

Famous street are in Barcelona: Poblenou District

What to look for:

  • Veneçuela with Agricultura streets. Another legal wall in Poblenou, the second most used in Barcelona after Les Tres Xemeneies. It’s been booked around 2.500 times.
  • Parc del Centre del Poblenou. Not so much inside the park, but the streets around it. Start with the corner of Marroc with Espronceda: that’s another of the legal walls of the district. Check out Hangar, a visual arts center located nearby and Nauart, another artists hub. 
  • Pere IV, Peru and Selva de Mar. The walls around this block always have interesting pieces. Very close, the old factory of La Escocesa, now an artists hub, is another famous destination for street art in Barcelona.
  • Museu Blau. The graffiti painted in the occasion of past cultural festivals tend to survive longer here than in other areas, because it’s a surveyed space.
  • Forum Beach. The third legal wall space of Poblenou, booked over 1000 times.
  • ConnectHort. A urban vegetable garden supported by the City Council, whose walls often feature cool stuff.
  • Poblezoo. The artist Tim Marsh has painted 3D animals around the district, that you can locate with the help of a cellphone app that includes an augmented reality experience.

5

Street Art in El Raval

El Raval is the area of the Old Town of Barcelona located between La Rambla, Paral·lel avenue and the Sant Antoni District. This area has a long history of decadence, poverty and crime, despite the many trials of the local government to improve it.

The spirit of the district shows in the street art you can find there. It’s heavily tagged (tags are the signatures or logos of artists) and there are a lot of throw ups (also known as “throwies”, larger than tags but usually bicolor and often just made out of letters, they are simple designs of fast execution). There’s so many of them that it almost has a violent feel to it.

It can also be that the city council doesn’t seem to be too interested in cleaning up the public space in El Raval as much as they are in other areas. And this tolerance attracts vandals as well as established graffiti artists that find the many closed shutters of the neighborhood a good support for their actions.

There’s also some more elaborated pieces that have often an activist message, aligned with the district problematics. And in the other side, there’s works encouraged by public entities that invite renowned artists to become part of their cultural program.

Street art in Barcelona Raval district

What to look for:

  • El Xupet Negre (The Black Pacifier). Local artist famous for his large pacifiers with (most of the times) black nipple, eyes and mouth. Look for him in the edges of the district: I’ve seen shutters with his work on Arc del Teatre st. as well as on Tallers st.
  • Konair (aka Sr. Polo and Onergizer). He is famous for his giant lollypops with one eye and a mouth in one side, and a chunk bitten out of it in the other. He’s very prolific and you’ll see him all over.
  • Gardens around the Sant Pau del Camp monastery. Large murals in its many walls and the surrounding area.
  • Agora Juan Andres Benitez. In the corner of Carrer de l’Aurora with Riereta, it’s a spontaneous community garden that will last until the city council kicks them out or a developer decides to build something there. In the meantime, the murals in the walls around it are spectacular.
  • Taller de Musics. A prestigious school of jazz, flamenco, latin music and hip hop. The shutters of its venues as well some businesses nearby feature cool pieces related to music.
  • Plaça de Terenci Moix. A concrete plaza with loads of graffitied walls. If you are lucky, you might even see some of the happy birds of Freebyrds, aka BYNO.
  • Tallers st. One of the few places in El Raval where you can see paste-ups. The nearby Sitges st. often has some interesting graffiti too. The other place for paste-ups is the corner building of Botella and Cera streets.
  • Melata. From “me lata el corazón” (should my heart beat), with the word joke that “lata” mans can in Spanish, too, besides beating. This couple creates optimist sentences spelled over colorful drink cans that they hang up in the street walls, several feet above the ground but still readable. There’s many: keep your eyes peeled for them.

6

Street Art in Barri Gotic

The Barri Gòtic (or Gothic Quarter) is the central part of the Old Town Barcelona, between La Rambla and Via Laietana. Its central part is the most historical area, with the Cathedral and the medieval squares around it, the Jewish Section and the church of Santa Maria del Pi.

The top of the district (Santa Anna church and Portal de l’Angel) is quite commercial, while the alleys of the bottom of it (from Plaça Reial to Basilica de la Merce) have a certain underground feel to it.

While there’s still many tags and throwies, you can detect a stronger will of the authorities to keep the area clean – specially within the monumental area. But that applies mostly to walls, as shutters, metal doors and other supports are often graffitied. 

The inhabitants of Barri Gotic don’t struggle the way those in El Raval do, so their activism is different: universal values such as veganism or sexual choices, a despise for mass tourism…

The fact that some street art galleries have stablished here and that the area feels in general safer than Raval attracts artists from other districts, and you can see a certain sensitivity and sense of humor that you didn’t see in El Raval. There’s more intention of being creative and artistic: there’s more stencils and paste-ups (paper posters glued to a surface) here.

Street Art | Barcelona Gothic Quarter

What to look for:

  • El Xupet Negre, Konair, Melata. They are all quite easy to see.
  • Carrer d’en Bot and Petritxol street. Whereas the Whitney Houston by Rice is hardly visible anymore, there’s always interesting stuff over here. A wall has been painted to replicate a famous modernist painting called “The Tandem”.
  • Bombs by Zone. Located in a high area of a wall on Montjuic del Bisbe.
  • Small metal door on Bisbe street. Probably an electric cabinet, in the Eastern wall almost by Plaça Sant Jaume: TvBoy often pastes cool pieces there, with some activist message.
  • Avinyo street. From the paste-ups in the corner with Call streets, to the very end, it’s a haven of cool artwork everywhere. And there’s one of the Base Elements galleries.
  • Ataulf and Bellafila streets. Great area to spot Xupet Negre and Konair pieces, but also the smiling fish of El Pez and the intriguing eyes of Noriaki.
  • Correu Vell and Plaça dels Traginers. Another area to enjoy fun surprises (and maybe even more El Pez and Noriaki).
  • Carrer del Palau. With two street art galleries one next door to the other, Base elements and Canal, it’s not surprising that this short street has become a destination for talent to show off. Konair, Art is Trash, Ivana Flores, Bronik… A treasure of an alley!

7

Street Art in El Born

El Born is the last section of the Old Town, located between Via Laietana, the Ciutadella Park and the Arch of Triumph. The bottom part is its monumental area, with the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar and the Picasso Museum. Its top part used to be uncharted for the tourists, but they are starting to be attracted for its “authentic” feel.

In El Born the wish of the authorities to “keep everything clean” is even more obvious than in the Gothic Quarter. There’s way less tags and throwies, and the walls are kept clean even in areas that aren’t frequently visited by tourists. The casual sophistication of the neighborhood and its safety attract famous street artists and new talents.

Just as in the Gothic Quarter, you see an aim to be artistic and sensitive, there’s a humorous touch and maybe less activism. Stencils and paste-ups are also popular. It’s not uncommon to see local shops inviting graffiti makers to decorate their shutters using topics related to the business. While it happens more frequently in the Gothic Quarter too, in El Born is even more frequent.

Born, Barcelona | Street Art

What to look for:

  • Guzzo. A bar that is entirely decorated with graffiti walls.
  • Comerç st. Many famous ones are often found here: H101, Koanir, Zone, Freebyrds… The famous Montana Shop and Gallery is here, too.
  • Plaça de Sant Agusti Vell. (ADULT LANGUAGE WARNING) See if you can still find a stencil that reads “Graffiti Sucks Like Deepthroat – Ajuntament de BCN”. It’s made in a way that it looks like an official notice from the city council!
  • Carders st. Bronik has sometimes written magnetic pieces there.
  • Mescladis Bar. An outdoors cafe run by a social welfare society, the walls surrounding it are often a great spot to see quality street art.
  • Boria st. One of my favorite places to see paste-ups. Pay special attention to the arches leading to side alleys: they often hide little treasures. In a party wall, high up from the ground, near Via Laietana there’s a bomb by Zone. It’ll be there until the plot is developed…

8

Street Art in Gracia

Gracia is a totally different district in town. It used to be an little independent village, that was annexed by Barcelona in the early 1900’s. It’s however kept a village atmosphere, rather than a big city feel: there’s a lot of community societies, and an interesting mix of middle-class families and bohemian youngsters.

Yoga studios, organic supermarkets, local designers and craft workshops create a safe and relaxed environment able to appreciate quality urban art. That has made several top Barcelona street artists to regularly operate in the business shutters as well as in walls of abandoned buildings.

The street art in Gracia is quite well balanced. There are tags and throwies, without the aggressiveness of El Raval or the excessive cleanliness of El Born. There’s stencils and paste-ups, too, more eclectic than in the Old Town. And the fact that well-known artists are easily spotted there makes for a quite fun area to visit to see urban art in Barcelona.

Best graffiti street art | Barcelona, Gracia district

What to look for:

  • Plaça del Poble Gitano (or Poble Romaní). A concrete plaza surrounded by graffitied walls. In a sense it can remind you of El Raval, but the design topics tend to be happier. On a party wall there’s a large mural with drawings by Xupet Negre and Konair.
  •  Plaça John Lennon. There’s business shutters with graffitis related to the Beatles, and its common to see there stencils and paste-ups about Lennon.
  • Profeta st. The ladies at Medianeras Murales, specializing in large 3D graffiti walls, have their workshop there. 
  • Ros de Olano st. The raw of parking gates on number 26 displays 5 portraits of Frida Kahlo by Joel Arroyo. The intersecting Pere Serafi street also features some cool shutters.
  • Montmany st. You can often see interesting pieces there, by Joel Arroyo, Axe and others.
  • Bruniquer st. Another place to see Joel Arroyo and Axe.

Street Art Barcelona has lost forever

Street art is by definition perishable. The artwork doesn’t last, either because the materials used to make it wash away or break, or because their support is destroyed. Not even masterpieces are safe. Here goes a little tribute to 3 great murals of urban art of Barcelona that are gone forever.

Barcelona Street Art galleries, shops and museums

Where to get graffiti supplies?

The pioneer shop and gallery Montana owns two stores: one in El Born and one in Gracia. Local street artists also get their supplies in El Raval (El Andén, Casa Peira and Elías Decoració), El Born (Molotow), as well as in Collblanc (Pintures Sanfer)

Where to buy street art in Barcelona?

The best street art galleries are located in the Old Town. Montana Gallery, that we mentioned before, is not just a graffiti supplies shop. Their oldest venue in El Born is also a street art gallery programming shows of local and international graffiti artists.

Another famous street art gallery in Barcelona is Base Elements, located in the backstreets of the Gothic Quarter and owned by a Catalano-American couple. Visitors can sometimes see artists making their creations in the basement of the shop. They have two shops: one on Avinyo st and one on Palau st.

Next to Base Elements on Palau St, Canal is another art gallery specializing in street art and graffiti.

Not far, in the building where Joan Miro was born, ArteVistas is the third most important street art gallery in town. They specialize in contemporary art in general, but also including street art pieces.

Outside of the Old Town, in the Eixample District, N2 Galeria specializes too in contemporary art, featuring emergent local and international creators including graffiti artists such as Sergio Hidalgo (Sixe Art). And Galeria Contrast has a portrait of Tyrion Lannister by Axe Colours. And Espai Trafalgar hosted a Bansky exhibit on tour around the world.

Are there Barcelona museums where to see street art?

There’s not many art museums in Barcelona that display pieces of famous street artists. The newly inaugurated MOCO has artwork by Banksy, Keith Hering and Basquiat.

The MACBA in El Raval owns several Basquiat, and they always have on display 2 pieces, that they rotate. And the Museu Can Framis includes one Sergio Hidalgo (Sixe Art) in their permanent collection.

What are your favorite Barcelona street art and graffiti artists?

Marta

Author Marta Laurent Veciana

AUTHOR BIO

Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.

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