Las Ramblas Barcelona
Las Ramblas is definitely a must see in Barcelona. This 1,2 km long tree-lined avenue is broken up into five different ramblas (pedestrian avenues, each one differently named) and runs between Barrio Gotico (Gothic quarter) and El Raval – two of the four districts of Ciutat Vella (old city). Las Ramblas is certainly one of the best known symbols of Barcelona and Cataluña.
It starts at Plaça de Cataluña with its first section of Rambla de Canaletes and ends at the port with Rambla de Santa Monica.
The word rambla is derived from the Arabic term ramla, which means sandy river bed and that is where the origins of Las Ramblas come from. Originally it was just a little path going along the stream that flew just outside the medieval city walls.
The first section La Rambla de Canaletes was named after the 19th century fountain Font de les Canaletes. Legend says that whoever drinks from this fountain will forever keep coming back to Barcelona. There are plenty of public metallic chairs to sit on for people watching at this part of Las Ramblas. Sometimes (though rarely) you can even meet shoe-shiners polishing people’s boots.
The second section is named La Rambla dels Estudis after the 16th century university, the Estudis Generals that once stood here and was demolished in 1843. Another name of this avenue is La Rambla dels Ocells (Birds avenue); due to the fact there are lots of stalls with small birds and animals for sale.
Next one is La Rambla de Les Flors, which is the prettiest part of the avenue because of the numerous flower sellers and their colourful displays. Another name of this part is La Rambla de Sant Josep; the name comes from the times a convent stood here. It was demolished in the mid1990s and replaced by the Mercat de La Boqueria –a century-old city market that will impress your imagination with bountiful displays of all types of products: dozens of exotic fruits, wide variety of seafood, nuts, sweets etc. Opposite it there is the Casa dels Paraigues (House of Umbrellas), which façade is abundantly decorated with umbrellas and art-deco dragon.
La Rambla dels Caputxins owes its name to the Capuchin monastery which also was demolished time ago. It is home to the city’s opera house Liceu as well as the Cafe de la Opera, one of the oldest cafes in Barcelona.
La Ramblas de Santa Monica brings you to Barcelona’s harbour. In this section you will find plenty of portrait artists offering drawings and caricatures. The Theatre Principal is also situated here; the theatre is the oldest one in the city.
Rambla de Mar
If you continue walking in the direction of the Port Vell (old port), a wooden walkway, now known as the Rambla de Mar or Rambla of the Sea, will lead Maremàgnum a huge mall with plenty of shops, IMAX cinema and the best Mediterranean Aquarium.
One of the highlights of Las Ramblas is its street performers, living statues which stand motionless until you tip them. You can find plenty of different characters from Egyptian pharaoh to Michael Jackson and aliens.
Las Ramblas is full of shops, cafes, restaurants and many small stalls selling anything from newspapers (including international) and magazines to all types of typical souvenirs.
How to get there:
By metro: Green line L3 - stops Drassanes, Liceu, and Plaça Cataluña.
by bus: Nº 16,17
Tourist information office at Plaça de Cataluña tel. (0034) 93 285 38 34, open daily from 09 A.M. till 09 P.M.
Some useful tips:
• Watch you wallet, passport and other belongings while strolling down the avenue, taking pictures or buying anything, as it is a pickpocketing territory due to the fact the avenue is overcrowded most of the time.
• There are plenty of places to have meal on the central avenue, but you’d better check the prices first, it may result that even an orange juice will cost you twice or thrice than in any other establishment out of Las Ramblas.