Once exclusively a flower market, the bustling Las Ramblas area of Barcelona is the perfect place for shopping and people watching. Once lined with convents and churches, the streets are now thronged with performers, magazine vendors and a hundred other things. The convents and monasteries were all closed by 1830.
There are no cars allowed in the central sections. They are constrained to two small one-way streets on either side of the pedestrian areas. So, you can walk at your leisure among the many things to see and do.
Meander along from the Placa Catalunya, past the famed statue of Columbus, to the water’s edge. There are many paths to choose from. The Rambla dels Ocells (Avenue of the birds) is aptly named for the once popular bird market in this old part of the Spanish city. The Rambla de les Flors once held the only flower shops in the city. Along the Rambla dels Caputxins there are old buildings, kiosks full of books and interesting people galore.
You’ll pass by the opera house of Liceu Theatre situated at the midpoint of the Ramblas. Along the way, stop and see the Miró Mosaic. This circular tile created by the Spanish artist attracts thousands to the area every year. You’ll also pass the outside of the famed produce market, Mercat de la Boqueria. Rest a while at the Cafe de la Opera and enjoy a bracing cup of coffee, Barcelona style.
There’s no longer any need to avoid the Barri del Raval, once the red-light district of the city. If you hit the area in the evening, you’ll find dozens of small restaurants and bars to choose from that will delight any tourist.
Art lovers should be sure to walk along Carrer de Montalegre where the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona is located. It houses the restored Museu d’Art Contemporani, which holds many permanent and roving exhibitions.
The Barri Gotic, the Gothic section, contains many architectural wonders to explore, including the famed cathedral, La Seu. It stands in the center of the original city and forms part of Barcelona’s two thousand year history. Nearby is the church of Santa Maria del Mar, which offers a representative example of Catalonian Gothic architecture.
Music lovers will want to catch one of the many afternoon concerts at Sant Josep Oriol. They’re a little more organized than the random street performers. But the latter are often just as professional, so sample both.
Now head for shopping at nearby Portal de l’Àngel and Portaferrissa. Along the central boulevard are hundreds of clothing shops, antique stores and more. Most everyone will want to head for the El Cortes Ingles in Placa Catalunya Square at the northern end. This seven-story department store is the rival of Harrod’s in London, Macy’s in New York and the other great shopping meccas of the world.
You could spend your entire vacation, not to mention your entire bank account, in the Las Ramblas of Barcelona. And that would be a great choice!