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Las Ramblas

Visit Barcelona: Las Ramblas

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“Las Ramblas” is the most popular and emblematic street in Barcelona. This mile-long boulevard connects “Plaça Catalunya” (Catalonia Square) with the waterfront. Each part has a different name (“Rambla de les Canaletes”, “Rambla dels Estudis”, “Rambla de Sant Josep”, “Rambla dels Caputxins” y “Rambla de Santa Mònica”); that is why the street is popularly known in the plural form as “Las Ramblas”.

 

Unlike what many tourists visiting Barcelona might expect, the word “rambla” is a designation for a type of street. “Las Ramblas” is a broad and tree-lined street, that will usually have a wide walkway down in the middle thereby giving prominence to pedestrians. Unlike a fully pedestrianized street however, “Las Ramblas” has 2 lanes along the sides for vehicle traffic. A real “rambla” is a gully or stream flow and also is the natural course that rain water follows and usually originates in the mountains.

 

“Las Ramblas” is characterized by its daily bustle and there are full of people day and night. The street is full of bars and restaurants where one can sit and watch passersby. One of favorite activities of locals and tourists alike is to walk up and down pausing to admire human statues, fortune-tellers, street performers, puppeteers, dancers and musicians. In addition to the architectural wonders that can be seen walking along “Las Ramblas”, one can also pass the time browsing at kiosks selling flowers, pets (in particular birds and rodents), paintings by local artists, clothing and other souvenirs and trinkets.

 

The first section-at its highest point by PlaçaCatalunya-, is called “Rambla de les Canaletes”. It takes its name from “La Font de les Canaletes”, which is known because of its magic attributes. According to legend, anyone who drinks from this source will return one day to Barcelona. Furthermore, “Canaletes” is the meeting point for Barça football supporters to celebrate when the club wins silverware.

 

Walking down towards the sea is the baroque church of Belen, where “Rambla dels Estudis” starts. This section was so named because there used to be a university in this area. This section is known for many kiosks selling pets along the side of the boulevard.

 

Next, up to the Palace of the Virreina (neoclassical building), comes “Rambla de Sant Josep o Rambla de les Flors”. It is the best-loved section of the boulevard, because of its magnificent flowers stalls, which stay open well into the night. The most famous market in Barcelona, “Mercat de la Boqueria”, stands by this “rambla” on the right hand side. This market is known for its wide assortment of food of all types from all over the world, although at high prices. There is also a very interesting building at the end of “Rambla de les Flors”, the Bruno Quadros’ house, with umbrellas on the wall and a Chinese dragon protruding over the street.

 

A little further along one reaches “Rambla dels Caputxins”. During the XVI and XVII centuries, Barcelona’s urban core was overflowing and many religious institutions that came to the city located in this area. That is why “Rambla dels Caputxins” took its name from the “Order of Capuchins”-inspired by Franciscan rules-, who settled in the lower part of the street.

 

At the end of the boulevard and adjacent to the port is “Rambla de Santa Mònica”, where one finds the parish which gives this section its name and that was, once, the convent of the Barefoot Augustinians. In this section of the “rambla” is where one finds the statue of Christopher Columbus-one of the most famous in Barcelona-, looming.

 

OTHER INTERESTING “RAMBLAS”

 

 Heading in the opposite direction from Plaça Catalunya through the “Eixample” neighborhood to Diagonal Avenue, there is a boulevard called Rambla Catalunya. It is basically shopping street with many fashion shops and modernist buildings. With every stroll along the RamblaCatalunya, one has the feeling of discovering a new building previously missed. Bars and “tapas” restaurants are typical along this “rambla”, and it is more popular with locals, in contrast with tourists, who prefer the more famous “Las Ramblas”.

 

 Another lovely “rambla” to visit is the one in Poblenou or “New Town”, which starts at Bogatell beach and goes inland to end up at the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. It is very popular among the people who live in the area, and for those tourists who manage to find it. Its atmosphere is very friendly and casual, ideal for tasting Spanish and Catalan dishes in the nearby restaurants. This “rambla” has less traffic, as only bicycles, motorbikes and the vehicles of local residents are allowed on its traffics lanes. There are also plenty of places for young people to go out in the evening.

 

If you have been to Barcelona and did not wander along one “Rambla”, it is like not having been to Barcelona at all, as they are one of the city’s main highlights and a symbol of the city.

 

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