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Passatge Sert, a nice hidden alleyway

Coffee enthusiasts have long known how to find Passatge Sert, especially since the opening of Nømad Coffee, a trendy coffee shop that now appears on all top-10 lists. But for the rest of the public, Passatge Sert usually goes unnoticed. Locals use it only if they want to go quickly from Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt to Carrer de Trafalgar towards Eixample or vice versa. But this alley is actually worth a visit; not only is it a very beautiful and photogenic place, but also its history and the fact that it is so well preserved make it a special place.

An Alley Between Old Factory Buildings

A stone’s throw away from the modernist Palau de la Música Catalana and the tourist district El Born, lies this hidden gem. You can hardly imagine it when you step into the beautiful and peaceful Passatge Sert, but this used to be a factory where carpets were made!

The Sant Pere district, where one of the entrances to the alley is located on Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 49-51, was already a place full of small factories, workshops, and shops in the Middle Ages, as well as the homes of the owners. With the demolition of the city walls in the mid-19th century, the area was taken over by factories, especially from the textile industry. This was in the times of the Industrial Revolution and Barcelona played a big role in it. Thus, in this alley in 1867, the carpet factory of the Sert family, “Sert Germans i Solà“, was founded.

The old carpet factory of the Sert family
The old carpet factory of the Sert family

The factory already had two entrances, one via Carrer de Trafalgar and the other on Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, and the alley crossed the entire building, which, in addition to workshops, also housed the homes of the owners and workers.

It was a leading factory, with a lot of staff (2,500 employees and 700 sewing machines), many of them women and children; and good working conditions, as this was one of the first companies to have social security for their workers and a school for new apprentices.

The factory operated until the 1920s but was later closed and renovated into modern offices and industrial lofts. Currently, Passatge Sert houses several trendy shops, a coffee tent, and creative companies that create a unique atmosphere in this idyllic place, far from the bustle of the city.

The store of Nømad Coffee at Passatge Sert
The store of Nømad Coffee at Passatge Sert

The Sert Family

The legacy of the Sert family in this alley that bears its name and for Barcelona in general is also certainly noteworthy. The founders, Domènec and Josep Sert i Rius, were the sons of the weaver Francesc Sert i Artés. Not only did they become important industrial magnates, with no fewer than five factories, but the brothers were also very active in politics and reached high positions within the political spheres.

The Sert family owned Passatge Sert
The Sert family owned Passatge Sert

One of Domènec’s sons was the famous artist Josep Maria Sert i Badia, who, according to a plaque outside Passatge Sert on Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, was born here. Josep Maria Sert started painting at a young age and developed a very peculiar style, far from the fashion of the moment. He was known especially as a muralist and painted, among other things, the cathedral of Vic and the Saló de les Cròniques in the Barcelona City Hall.

His nephew, the architect Josep Lluís Sert i López, was a prominent member of the GATPAC (Grup d’Artistes i Tècnics Catalans pel Progrés de l’Arquitectura Contemporània), a group of architects who renewed Catalan architecture in the time of the Republic with the aim of making dignified workers’ houses. The jewelry store J. Roca (now Tous) on Passeig de Gràcia number 18, the antituberculous consultancy on Passatge Sant Bernat number 10, the Casa Bloc in Sant Andreu, or the duplex housing building on Carrer Muntaner number 342, all in Barcelona, ​​were the first rationalist works of the architect.

Among his circle of friends was the famous artist Joan Miró, for whom he designed his museum building, the Fundació Miró in Barcelona.

During the Civil War, Josep Lluís Sert fled to the United States, where many of his works can be found. In 1981, Josep Lluís Sert was honored with the AIA Gold Medal, the highest award of the American Institute of Architects. And oddly enough, it all started here, between the yellow-painted walls of the old carpet factory in Passatge Sert.

One of the entrances to Passatge Sert
One of the entrances to Passatge Sert

Practical Information

  • What: Visit Passatge de Sert
  • Where: Two entrances; one via Carrer Trafalgar, 44-42, and the other via Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 49-51
  • Metro: Urquinaona (L1 and L4)
  • When: The alley is only open to the public on weekdays during normal opening hours. On weekends the doors at Passatge Sert are closed but you might be lucky that one of the residents lets you in.
  • Note: As this is private property, no bicycles, scooters, or cars are allowed in the alley.

Tip: If you get hungry during your visit to Passatge Sert, visit the nearby restaurant Casa Lolea for some delicious tapas!

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Hello! My name is Marta, and I am a born and raised Barcelonian. I love introducing people to Barcelona, especially the Barcelona known to locals. In Barcelona, I am always looking for fun places and tips that I can then share with you, with the goal of helping you experience Barcelona like a local.

Marta Rubio

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