Plaza Catalunya can be considered the center of Barcelona city.
It was outside Barcelona's original city walls and is where the medieval city "Barri Gòtic" and "Raval", meet the Eixample, which was built in the 19th century.
The development of this plaza is quite recent. At first it was just an open area where puppeteers would put on their shows for the residents of the city.
Later when the city walls were demolished plans were made to urbanize it. Their were different projects presented and one of them was simply to make it and extension of Las Ramblas. In 1902 all the houses, shacks and cafes on it were demolished and two roads were built in a V and a circular plaza placed at the intersection point.
It was only in 1925 that the definitive design was agreed upon.
In 1965 an underground parking lot was constructed underneath it and then various construction projects were completed until about 1986, support beams were fixed, ventilation of the the RENFE station was improved etc etc.... so quite a mess for quite a few years.
At present the fact that this plaza wants to be the center of attraction can be seen in the statues, buildings and open areas it has that have been constructed over the years, some not quite blending in as well as others.
In the center it has giant star where people come to feed the pigeons and to the north two fountains and grassy slopes where tourist often sit to relax and rest their weary feet.
Around almost the whole plaza there are trees that offer shade on the hot summers days and protect its monuments.
The buildings surrounding the Plaza are occupied by banks, El Corte Ingles, FNAC and other retailers.
There are not really many bars surrounding the plaza and the one that remains popular and is used as a meeting point is the Zurich. You will find it where Las Ramblas meet the plaza.
It occupies an area of about 50,000 square meters and is known for its fountains and statues but also keep an eye out for the chess players.
You can get the Aerobus to the airport from here and the Barcelona Bus tours also stop here.
There are also always tourist information points on the plaza.
Don't miss this plaza, it is a highly recommended place to start your Barcelona holiday.
The following important city streets all meet at Plaza Catalunya
Passeig de Gràcia
This one of the most important and famous streets in Spain. It has some of the best examples of modernist architecture designed by Antoni Gaudíy and Lluís Domènech i Montaner and the buildings have been declared world heritage sites. Some examples are Casa Milà, La Casa Batlló, Casa Lleó Morerao and Casa Amatller. Passeig de Gràcia connects Plaza Catalunya with Mayor de Gracia, another important street further north in the suburb of Gracia. All the most important brands in the world have shops here making it one of the best shopping experiences in the city.
Rambla de Catalunya
I love this rambla, it is elegant and sophisticated and has a very European feel. It starts at Plaza Catalunya and ends in Diagonal, it is a shoppers delight, fashion from start to finish.
Portal de l'Àngel
This is a pedestrian street and another shopping street, there are hundreds of shops, from el Corte Ingles to Zara. It is quite normal to see people doing break dancing, playing instruments, singing or performing some form of entertainment here. There are also stalls selling more artisan type goods.
Ronda de Sant Pere
This street runs from the Arc de Triomf, in Passeig de Lluís Companys, through to Plaza d'Urquinaona and then on onwards to Plaza Catalunya.
Carrer de Pelai
Another street for shopping... loads of shoe stores and more.
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