Get ready for Las Ramblas, it is Barcelona's most awesome walkway.
When visiting Barcelona, this is one of the first places you should go and see, there is always something interesting happening.
The word "rambla" comes from the verb "ramblar" which means to stroll.
You can stroll down its 1.5km like people have been doing since the XIX century.
A leisurely walk down Las Ramblas will take you about 1h30min.
This tree lined avenue used to be a river that flowed parallel to the ancient city wall.
The Gothic Quarter is on the left as you walk down, and Raval is on the right.
Las Rambles starts at Plaça Catalunya, where the old city ends and the new city begins, this is the centre of the city and is marked by a huge star on the floor of the plaza.
Here you will find one of the best department stores in the city, El Corte Ingles and just in front of it the Aerobus bus stop.
To the south east you will find the famous Cafe Zurich, which when I first got here had a lot more character, but it is still a good meeting point.
The top tourist attractions are
Las Ramblas is plural because it is actually composed of 5 "ramblas": Rambla de Canaletas, Estudies, Sant Josep, Caputxins and Santa Monica.
The top part Las Ramblas in Barcelona is known as the Rambla de Canaletes and owes its name to the drinking fountain that has been there since the XIX century and is called the Font De Canaletes, it is said that if you drink water from this fountain you will one day return to Barcelona. Canaletas is where the FC Barcelona fans go to celebrate their victories.
The next section is called the Ramblas dels Estudis because of the university that was there until 1714 and the last three parts owe their names to the convents that were on the south east part of Las Ramblas, which was then called "The path of the convents". In the 1830's these convents succumbed to the reforms and disarray of the city. The city wall even ran past the south east part of las ramblas until the XV century.
Las Ramblas is the best place in Spain for a paseo, and is busy 24/7, it never sleeps and is the place where you can hear languages from around the world and where cultures and ethnic backgrounds are mixed. Yes Las Ramblas is touristy but you can see why, the human statues are that stand motionless as the crowds of tourist pass by are just incredible, the artists drawing caricatures of their clients are real artists, I have already paid for two. There are all sorts of strange and wonderful people to be seen. There are kiosks selling everything from the Financial Times to tortoises, even though they are not meant to be selling animals anymore..... but hey we're in Spain and sometimes things take a while here.
Palau Guell is the only Gaudi building you will find in the area.
Before going on please take note: Las Ramblas is rife with pick-pockets so watch your things carefully, the best thing to do is take the bare minimum with you as it would be a shame to have a great day destroyed by some idiot stealing your wallet and passports etc. Don't be fooled by the tourist asking you for directions, the pick-pockets work in groups so you need to have eyes in the back of your head, also be careful when watching the statues or any other performances on las Ramblas, tourists are prime targets.
Despite these pick-pockets you will love Barcelona and Las Ramblas.
Barcelona has many markets but El Mercat de Sant Josep AKA La Boqueria, is the most lively and colorful of them all. If you can eat it you will find it here, well almost. This is La Sagrada Familia of food. You can find the freshest and best fruit in the country here, polished and presented exquisitely, olives, mushrooms, fish stalls that are packed with fish, lobster and shellfish that only hours before was still in the sea, you can find the best cuts of meat, suckling pigs, chuletones and even horse meat, not quite my thing, at the many stalls. This is a food lovers paradise that must be seen to be believed. La Boqueria is a great place to eat at any time of the day, but space is limited so get there early.
La Boqueria dates from 1217, in those days tables were set up near the gates of the old city to sell meat.From 1470 a pig market know as the Mercat Bornet was held at the same location and then later until about 1794 it was known as the Mercat de la Palla (Straw market). When it first started it was not enclosed and had no official status and was simply an extension of the Plaça Nova market which went all the way to the Plaça del Pi.
Only later did the authorities decide to build a separate market on Las Ramblas for fishmongers and butchers and it was only in 1826 that the market was legally recognized. In 1835 the decision was made to build an official structure, and on the 19th of March 1840 the architect Mas Vilà started construction. The market´s official opening was held on that same year, but the plans had been changed and modified so many times that the inauguration of the structure only took place in 1853. The fish market part opened in 1911 and the metal roof that still covers it today was built in 1914.
The Gran Teatre del Liceu is Barcelona's grand opera house. It was founded in 1847 and has been gutted by fire twice, once in 1861 and then again in 1994. It was then rebuilt and enlarged and then reopened in 1999. Every year there are about 125 performances and it has about 20000 subscribers. It is one of the great institutions of the city and attracts world famous opera stars and has even produced a few of its own such as Montserrat Caballé.
Just before you get to the Liceu as you walk down the Ramblas you will even find art by the Catalan artist Joan Miró, look out for his pavement mosaic in the centre of Las Ramblas You will also find the famous Cafe de l'Opera just opposite the Liceu on the other side of Las Ramblas.
Plaça Reial, designed by Francesc Daniel Molina i Casamajó in the 19th century is one of the most lively plaças in the city and a very well known tourist attraction. The huge towering palm trees and the magnificent wrought iron fountain representing the Three Graces, and the modernist lampposts, designed by Gaudi in 1879, are impressive. This is where the 19th century meets modern city nightlife, and if you are looking for a good night out this is the best place to start. Under the arches you will find many restaurants, bars, cafés and some of the cities most famous clubs such as Karma, Jamboree or Sidecar. The Plaça Reial is also a popular meeting place during the day and the bars are always packed with people, the Glaciar is a good place to stop at to take in the sights and sounds while enjoying a cool drink on a hot summers day.
Don't get it confused with with the Plaça del Rei which is also in the Barri Gòtic.
The monument to Christopher Columbus is at the end of Las Ramblas. You will see him perched atop a huge column and pointing to the Americas. For some great views take the elevator to the top.
The bronze statue of columbus, sculpted by Rafael Atché, is 7.2 m tall and stands on top of a 40 m high Corinthian column. The base of the monument is a 20 m wide circle and the four staircases are each flanked by two lions.
In 1856 Antoni Fages i Ferrer had the idea of building a monument to Colombus, he wanted it built entirely by Catalans but in sixteen years he got nowhere. In 1872 he finally managed to get the support of the mayor, Francesc Rius i Taulet, and the resolution to build the monument was passed. The winner of the contest to build it was Gaietà Buigas i Monravà, a Catalan. Money was raised privately and only 12% came from public funds. All the funding was Spanish and all the building was done by Catalans. Construction began in 1882 and ended in 1888, on time for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona.
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