Sant Adrià de Besòs, Barcelonès, Catalonia, Spain

The town of Sant Adria de Besos is a municipality in the county of Barcelonès within the metropolitan area of Barcelona. Sant Adrià de Besòs (3.87 km2) is the municipality located at the mouth of the river Besòs, between the municipalities of Barcelona, Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Badalona, with which it forms an urban continuity.

The river has always been one of the determining elements of village life. It is situated on the Mediterranean coast, at the mouth of river Besòs, extending to both sides of the estuary although the original settlement with the parish church lies on the left bank of the river, in the northern part of town. Sant Adrià is the smallest municipality of Barcelonès and has close ties with the neighbouring cities of Barcelona, Badalona and Santa Coloma de Gramenet, forming a uniform urban area within Barcelona metropolitan area.

The municipality straddles major transportation networks and is served by several modes of public transport. Sant Adrià is currently a town dominated by the service sector, but with a diverse manufacturing sector (especially in the areas of metal-work, chemistry, and construction) consisting mostly of medium-sized companies. Historically, it has experienced several massive migration flows attracted by the important industrialisation of the area during the last century and has been subject of various major urban redevelopments. In 2004, Sant Adrià de Besòs was part of the Universal Forum of Cultures.

The origin of the population is the parish church of Sant Adrià, already mentioned in 1012. In this church was founded, around the year 1092, a priory of regular Augustinian canons depending on Sant Ruf d’Avinyó. Sant Oleguer was prior (1095-1108) of this monastery, before being bishop of Barcelona and archbishop of Tarragona. Finally, the monastery moved to Santa Maria de Terrassa (in 1127). Around this church, on a small hill (14m high) to the left of the Besòs, the old town was formed.

From time immemorial, there were also numerous flour mills on the banks of the Besòs, which for many centuries were one of the main sources of wealth for the Adrian population. In its origins, the history of Sant Adrià was closely linked to the Catalan church. Specifically, the bishops of Barcelona were jurisdictional lords and the term was governed by an episcopal mayor. In front of the church the so-called Bishop’s Castle was built, a house where the same bishops or other notable people stayed, especially in times of plague; in the seventeenth century it was already badly damaged.

It was a place where the river was crossed, on the way to Barcelona, countless floodsdid more harm than good to the people: the Muslims destroyed it in 1114 and the French destroyed it again in 1697. In the eighteenth century the situation changed. The fertility of the soil, the abundance of water and the proximity of the great market of Barcelona produced a great prosperity, based on the cultivation of vegetables, pulses, fruit and vine. Sant Adrià almost doubled the population (59h. In 1718; 111h. In 1787), which was scattered in numerous farmhouses, the vast majority of which we can only name (Can Sabater, Can Coll, Can Farinetes, ca l’Esquerra, etc.). Can Rigalt is still standing of these nineteenth-century farmhouses. Unfortunately, during the Napoleonic Wars Sant Adrià was destroyed again.

Already in the 19th and 20th centuries Sant Adrià de Besòs became a place of recreation for the people of Barcelona, who went to a natural water source popularly called La Mina and which currently gives its name to one of the most well-known neighborhoods in the municipality. Ildefons Cerdà himself in his project for the extension of Barcelona reserved Sant Adrià as a green and forested area, where Avinguda Diagonal would end up.

In the 20th century, and with it industrialization, completely changed the life of Sant Adrià. The slow and sustained growth and the life based on the cultivation of the field changed suddenly with the establishment of the first industries and the arrival of the first immigrants, both phenomena caused by the proximity of Barcelona.

During the 1920s and 1930s Sant Adrià experienced mass immigration, with the formation of neighborhoods of Spanish immigrants (especially Murcians, Andalusians and Galicians), tripling the population and forming new neighborhoods. La Catalana, with the power plant that would give the neighborhood its name, is one such example. The cardboard factory, in the upper area of Sant Adrià or industries such as Can Baurier, in the neighborhood of Sant Joan Baptista, led to this increase in population and the establishment of the industry due to its proximity to the river and Barcelona city.

During the Republic the town became known as Pla de Besòs and was added to Barcelona and Badalona. In the Spanish Civil War, the so-called La Bota camp was sadly the place where the Francoists shot many Republicans. However, the civilian population received constant airstrikes, due to its proximity to power plants and local industry.

In the 1950s, real population growth was unleashed, with the arrival of hundreds of immigrants from the rest of the state, which led to the creation of dormitory neighborhoods along the lines of the other cities in the Barcelona belt: urbanization forced, destruction of old farmhouses, irregular arrangement, no planning, etc.

With 33,075 inhabitants (in the year 2000), the town has so far become a city, although formally it does not yet have the title, and remains a town. The tertiary sector and a diversified secondary sector predominate. The serious problems that exist, especially in neighborhoods such as La Mina and La Catalana, are being tried to solve.

Among the most important urban plans of the town is the redevelopment of the whole so-called “Coastal Front”, which constitutes the three chimneys and their surroundings. In addition to the completion of housing construction in the La Catalana neighborhood.

In recent years, thanks to the Forum of Cultures, and mainly for an intense city project initiated by the City Council, as well as the help received by the Generalitat de Catalunya and the European Commission (Neighborhood Project, Education Plan of ‘Environment) a whole process of redevelopment and reconversion of the town has begun. These initiatives have at times been met with opposition from some citizens, but despite this the municipality is being transformed.

Currently, it has important companies in the service and industrial sectors; and three thermal power plants – located on each side of the river. – Of the thermal power plants, the most famous is the San Adrián Thermal Power Plant, which has three 200 m smokestacks, producing a notable level of contamination; the other two are the Besós combined cycle power plant and the Besós V thermal power plant, in the process of replacing the first. By citizen initiative, the Platform for Conservation of the Xemeneies was created, the purpose of which was to stop the chimneys from working for industrial purposes and to have only a social utility, thus promoting the historical memory of the city.At present, a project is being promoted with the objective that the chimneys host a museum for the interpretation of energy, even though there are very diverse proposals.

Various projects have been carried out with the intention of improving the quality of the river’s water, such as the rehabilitation of the banks of the Besós river;Forum 2004 returning examples such as the use of the tram. The Forum as an event, served as an excuse to beautify the coastal area near the La Mina neighborhood and create a modern marina, renovating the facilities of the treatment plants in the area. Some neighborhoods are also in the renovation phase as well as the creation of new housing areas.

In 2012 the millennium of the city was celebrated. In November a concert was held with the participation of the Lyceum orchestra. The escolania de Montserrat also offered a concert in the parish.

Given its proximity to the city of Barcelona, Sant Adrià de Besòs is well served by road, rail and many other forms of public transport, becoming an important part of the transportation network in Barcelona metropolitan area. The city has always been an economically unprivileged town and a really dense area, and it remained indifferent to the establishment and the improvement of public transport around Barcelona for many years, but the recent development in public infrastructures and urban renewals has brought substantial transport improvement, especially in the form of tram services.

C-31 highway comes directly from Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes in Barcelona to Mataró and intersects perpendicularly with Ronda del Litoral (B-10 motorway) in the middle of town, forming a major highway interchange, and allowing B-10 to be linked with Ronda de Dalt (B-20 motorway) at Nus de la Trinitat, another major highway interchange in northern Barcelona. Other main roads serving Sant Adrià include the national route N-II parallel to Maresme’s coastline and the local road BV-5001 towards Montornès del Vallès and La Roca del Vallès, crossing the northern part of the municipality.

Public transportation network is mainly composed of several urban and interurban bus routes that provide a good internal connection within the municipality as well as the connection of the city to other nearby cities within the comarca. Currently, 16 bus routes run through the municipality, 5 of them are local bus routes operated by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) to and from Barcelona, 8 are interurban routes within Barcelonès, and 3 are night routes.

With regard to rail transport modes, Trambesòs is the most prominent transport system in Sant Adrià which comprises 7 stops within the municipality served by all its routes, linking the city to the district of Sant Martí up to Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona. Maresme Line also runs through the city with Sant Adrià de Besòs railway station as the only stop of the line in town which lies in the eastern part of Sant Adrià and is served by Rodalies de Catalunya commuter rail line R1. Verneda is the only Barcelona Metro station officially located in the municipality, but Artigues – Sant Adrià station is as its name says also meant to serve Sant Adrià de Besòs because although being located in Badalona, it is just a few meters from the city limits.

Main Attractions

Sant Adrià de Besòs thermal power plant
The Sant Adrià Thermal Power Plant was a conventional cycle thermoelectric power plant owned by FECSA – Endesa located on the left bank of the mouth of the river Besòs, between the municipalities of Sant Adrià del Besòs and Badalona, north of Barcelona, closed in 2011 and currently inactive with its interior dismantled.

The conventional cycle plant consisted of three groups of 350 MW each designed to be powered by fuel oil although two of the groups were later adapted to natural gas. At first the construction of two groups was planned (the closest to Badalona) but finally there were three. The chimneys, 90 meters high, are located just above the boilers, also 90 meters, and therefore reach a total height of about 180 meters. The last 20 meters of chimney, up to a total of 200 meters in height, were added later to its construction, and are clearly differentiable from the rest by its metal construction. This increase from 180 to 200 meters was necessary for the thermal inversion layeris located around 170–190 meters in the area of the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

One of the last steps in the process of dismantling the plant was the removal of the cooling pipes that went into the sea to capture water. Virtually all visible structures were dismantled, but not submerged. During previous underwater verification work, it was observed that the oldest columns and pillars, over a hundred years old in some cases, had been extensively colonized by different marine species, and served as an ecosystem of the area’s biodiversity..

Species that are embedded or live in existing structures include brown and calcareous algae, as well as more than 500 associated animal species, whether sessile or fixed to the substrate. You can find sponges, hydroids, bryozoans, polychaetes, anthozoa, crustaceans such as cirripedes, and even colonies of tunicates. As mobile fauna there are starfish, hedgehogs and ophiuroids and a great diversity of crustaceans. Numerous posts ofmollusks, octopuses and cuttlefish. As for the fish, scorpions, rock thrushes, castanets, maidens, mummies, various slugs, gilthead sea bream, serranos, fadrins, heels, and sea bass, among others, have been observed. However, given the importance of this area for birds, it has been proposed to leave the concrete block that constituted the head of the cooling pipes as an island for the stay of seabirds. In fact, both Corsican gulls and feathered cormorants have already been observed.

This whole area will be the artificial reef that from 2017 must be managed by the municipalities of Badalona and Sant Adrià, thanks to an agreement between Endesa, the two municipalities and the Besòs Consortium, which allows to carry out a project for the conservation of the seabed, the improvement of biodiversity and the promotion of environmental education.

History of Immigration in Catalonia Museum
Museum of the History of Immigration in Catalonia (MhiC): Exhibitions on immigration received in Catalonia. It has a permanent exhibition which includes a train car called ‘Sevillano’.

The Museum of the History of Immigration of Catalonia opened is a museum of the 21st century, with a clear vocation for citizenship education, where the creation of the Heritage Fund is open and participatory.

The content of the MhiC is articulated from its permanent space in three Areas: Humans in motion, Sevillano Barcelona Termino and Espai Migrar. The tour of the three spaces begins by presenting the migratory processes of human beings (Humans in motion) from a conceptual and terminological perspective, in order to familiarize our audience with the naturalness of the migratory fact and the global vision of this concept.

In the second area (Sevillano Barcelona Término) the content closes the objective and approaches the most representative aspects of immigration in the twentieth century Catalonia from the causes and also consequences in our territory. In this space, the role of the witness as producer of the Fund and agent of the discourse stands out. The protagonists of internal migrations in Catalonia speak in the first person, and accompany us on a first journey, sitting in an original wagon from 1959 that takes us to a definitive moment of the migrations of our territory.

Finally we take the flight towards globalization again; in the 21st century we look at migration from a very current perspective, from our most immediate and future present (Espai Migrar). The MhiC is a reference space for its content. He wants from a perspective of modesty and on the scale of a small local museum, to bravely raise a universal reality such as human movements and migrations.

Parish Church of Sant Adrià de Besòs
Built during the 1940s, this church consists of a building with a brick veneer façade, and a large nave which has chapels on each side, a semicircular apse and a dome. The façade is flanked by two towers, of which the highest one is the bell tower.

Air-raid shelter
The air-raid shelter of Francesc Macià Square (RapM) is one of the four public air-raid shelters built during the Spanish Civil War in the city. It is situated under Francesc Macià Square and very close to the former textile factory Industrial Baurier since factories were military targets. This air-raid shelter had capacity for 80 or 100 people and it was finished building in August 1938 but was not closed in Francoist Spain until March 1939. It was reopened on 11 September 2006 after rehabilitation and it was not turned into a museum until 27 January 2008. Currently, the RapM is divided into five exhibition spaces with an entrance hall, and is designed as a teaching tool to think over the Civil War and the post-war in Sant Adrià.

Cultural space

Besòs Cultural Center
The Besòs Cultural Center is located in Plaça Josep Tarradellas in Sant Adrià de Besòs.

Polidor Cultural and Youth Production Center
The Polidor Youth Center is located in Plaça Guillermo Vidaña, s / n, in Sant Adrià de Besòs, together with the Sant Adrià Library and the Ricart Sports Complex.

Municipal center of entities
Currently, the municipal center of entities, the Extract, located on the road to Mataró, functions as a center of entities. The entities that are there are: Welcome Women’s Association. Parque II Sociocultural Association. Friends of the Kiss Association

School of Art
The School of Art is a service of the Department of Culture created with the aim of training and offering resources to all those people interested in the visual arts (painting, sculpture and drawing). The courses and workshops are for both children and adults and take place in the different cultural centers of the municipality. Currently, the spaces where classes are being held at the School of Art are the Center for Cultural and Youth Production Polidor and the Casal de Cultura.

Port Forum Barcelona
The Port Forum Barcelona is a seaport of a sporting nature, located in the Forum Park, which was built for the Universal Forum of Cultures 2004. It is located between the municipal boundaries of Sant Adrià de Besòs and Barcelona.

Besòs River Park
The citizens of Sant Adrià enjoy a recovered river space with a high social, environmental and landscape value. In this link you can find all the information of the park either of the wetlands of great environmental value and not destinationfor public use and areas of public use intended for the leisure of the citizenry.

Sport is being a cornerstone of the municipality. On the one hand with the construction of the Ciutat Esportiva Sant Adrià de Besòs by the Real Club Deportiu Espanyol. On the other hand, a good handful of sports are being promoted, such as the Sant Adrià Tennis Club, the women’s football section of the Sant Gabriel Sports Club, the La Mina Wrestling Club, the UBSA men ‘s basketball, or the Women’s Sant Adrià, which is in the 1st women’s division. Also noteworthy is the volleyball in which, by the Escola Amor de Déu, and under the direction of the former rugby playerand Professor Albert Arimany, has achieved some triumphs. Although at present, the Sant Adrià Volleyball Club exists where its players play in the league of the Catalan Federation. It has three sports centers, two of them adapted for people with disabilities.

Electronic music festival
The Catalan festival expands its tentacles with concerts in San Adrián de Besós. Electronic music and a bathroom will have three favorable spaces thanks to the Primavera Bits initiative, an appendix of the festival that they will reach by crossing the bridge from the Parc del Fórum to San Adrián de Besos. In addition to dancing, the attendees will be able to take a dip and taste the requested paellas of the Kauai de Gavà restaurant”, they point out from the organization.