As you have probably understand, Zona Alta is not official name of the district. In the Barcelona this term is understood as districts of Sarria-San Gervasi with its Bonanova, Tibidabo, Galvani and Tres Torres, as well as Pedralbes – a part of Les Corts.
When you are talking about the area where the rich Spanish people live, the imagination draws beautiful leggy horsewomen dressed in Hermés, cabriolets Aston Martin and so on… But you will not see there anything of the above mentioned. The streets are quiet and even boring. The houses are walled-in with the fences and trees. You will not see many cafes and bars. Sometimes it is difficult to find even a shop to buy some water. In a word, the mysterious Zona Alta does not open to the simple passers-by. If you want to know the area better, you should find a guide – people who live there on a permanent basis.
Sarria is surrounded by Collserola mountain range and in the summer it is a little bit cooler here than at the other part of the city. Up to 20-s of the last century it was a place where Barcelona’s elite spent their vacations. Some of them had their own houses and the others rented it for the summer. The coolness and the fresh air of the mountains attracted rich people to a small village. They bought the houses near its centre and very soon it joined the metropolis. And when the railway transport reached that place and many people got their cars, the Barcelonians started to move closer to the mountains for permanent residence.
Currently, in Zona Alta live the best medics, university professors, judges and businessmen. Lionel Messi and Barcelona’s main celebrity couple – singer Shakira and the football player Gerard Pique also have their houses in that area.
Here, in the cafe, the supreme judge can drink coffee next to you, but you will never guess. Catalans do not like too much shine. That is what attracts celebrities and upper-middle class to the Barcelona’s Zona Alta. In Madrid, for example, everything is different: there famous people are pursued by paparazzi and tabloids. But here nobody cares. The welfare of the district is seen not in the glow of villas and boutiques. It is in its atmosphere of calm and in the quality of the surrounding area. In 2012, the Barcelona’s Public Health Centre undertook a study which discovered that at the average the residents of San Gervasi live eight years longer than the residents of Raval. Of course, this is not an occasionality. Almost all locals are attended by a private clinics, go to yoga, eat organic food and in the morning run in the woods of Collserola. And if they want something luxury, they usually pay for a private school or a golf club, which are hidden by the fences like their houses.
The cost of square meter in the “high zone” is 2-2.5 times higher than the average in the city. This is one of the few places in Barcelona where you can buy a house with a large yard and swimming pool. Also, the area is built up with the prestigious high-rise complexes with underground parking, most of which are located on a hill with breathtaking views over Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea. Besides, the apartments’ surface is bigger than in other areas of the Catalan capital – 100.7 square meters compared to 77.3 at the average in the city.
And what is more, in Zona Alta there are many schools – its number per capita is higher than in any other area of Barcelona. There are semipublic schools financed by parents, government subsidies, patrons or religious organizations, and private schools. The most famous of them are Liceo Francés, American School of Barcelona, Oak House, St Peter’s School and others. They are attended by children of well-known politicians, football players, doctors, and even the children of the Infanta Cristina. However there are only six free public schools. Naturally that the approach to the care and education is special. In some of them, started from 5 years old children are taught to play several musical instruments and to be in the saddle. In the others, the program is focuses on the language skills and kids are put to bed with the nurses from the UK with pedagogical education. And in the others, the graduating students get diplomas automatically homologated in the UK. Located in Bonanova Jesús-Maria College, for example, while looks like the Catalan Hogwarts, brings up not wizards, but good Christians. As for the development of patriotic feelings, it is widespread. In school the children together with the teachers prepare a special performance to the Independence Day of Catalonia.