La Rambla Boulevard, Barcelona’s most renowned street, cuts right through the heart of the city center from Plaça de Catalunya down to the Port Vell area and it makes the border between the Gothic Quarter and El Raval neighborhood. The name “Rambla” is derived from the Arabic rimaal, meaning ‘sands’ and in its place there used to be a dried up riverbed before it became the most important promenade of Barcelona.
La Rambla is one of the most central and visited places of the city. It owes its popularity to the many exhibits, live performances and other street events (especially during the summer), but also to its many shops and historic landmark buildings, such as the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the world-renowned La Boqueria Market, the Palau de la Virreina and the Mirador de Colom (the Columbus Monument).
History of La Rambla
The place of today’s La Rambla Boulevard was initially occupied by a seasonal river that washed down the spring and autumn rain water streaming from the nearby Collserola Mountains. When the city was founded by the romans, this torrent river was used as one of the city limits. The stream eventually dried up when the water supply was cut and diverted by the new city walls that were expanded to enclose El Raval and thus the dusty riverbed of La Rambla started to be used as a walkway which developed into one of Barcelona’s city life centers.
There are many landmarks of real historical value on this boulevard, such as the old building of the university transformed today into a theatre, and even the first clock of Barcelona can be found on this street. However, the majority of the buildings seen today were built during the 19th century, after most of the monasteries that were occupying the land facing El Raval were demolished (for additional information – History of Barcelona). Today the area is mostly dedicated to shopping and entertainment activities.
Things To Do in La Rambla
Besides the historical attractions, the strong side of the avenue is its everyday bustling life that emerges from the many flower shops, clothing stores, coffee shops, and as well as from live street performances and events, exhibitions, artists that draw portraits for tourists and human statue performers.
Adjacent to La Rambla are two of the top tourist landmarks of Barcelona – Plaça Reial, with its beautiful porticoes and the La Boqueria food market, a worldwide foodie heaven. Other established attractions are the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Museu de Cera (Wax Museum) and the Museu Marítim de Barcelona (Maritime Museum).
At the southern end of La Rambla, near Port Vell, stands Mirador de Colom (Columbus Monument), built in memory of Christopher Columbus, who became one of the heroes of the city when he chose to disembark first in the port of Barcelona on his return from America.
The nearby Port Vell is a good option to consider visiting after exploring La Rambla, as it is an area with many restaurants and many shopping opportunities offered by the Maremagnum Shopping Center. The Aquarium Barcelona is also located nearby.
Main Parts of La Rambla
La Rambla is separated into five areas:
- La Rambla de Canaletes – this is the North section of La Rambla right next to Plaça de Catalunya. It is named after the Font de Canaletes, a famous symbolic iron fountain.
- La Rambla dels Estudis – it is named after the old University of Barcelona building, the Estudi General.
- La Rambla de Sant Josep – is so called because of a convent that once stood where La Boqueria market is now placed. It is also known as La Rambla de les Flors.
- La Rambla dels Caputxins (also La Rambla del Centre) – it is the busiest section of the boulevard. The name derives from an old Capuchin monastery that like all monasteries in the area no longer exists.
- La Rambla de Santa Mònica – this part ends La Rambla proper with the Columbus Monument right next to the Port Vell.
Main Landmarks in La Rambla
El Raval is a neighborhood located right next to the La Rambla Boulevard. It is mostly inhabited by students and immigrants that want to take advantage of the lower rent prices while living in the center of Barcelona.
Read more about El Raval
Plaça de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya is one of Barcelona’s main squares and it marks the start of La Rambla on the North side. Opposite to La Rambla, at the other edge of Plaça de Catalunya, begins the Eixample area
Read more about Plaça de Catalunya
La Boqueria Food Market
It is more than just a food market, it is a legendary and prominent tourist landmark of the city. La Boqueria is among Europe’s largest and most known food markets.
Read more about La Boqueria
|Welcome to one of the most amazing sites in Barcelona – the world’s famous La Boqueria food market,
a bustling place abounding in flavors and color.
Aquarium Barcelona was built in 1995 as one of the biggest aquariums in Europe and is currently hosting more than 11,000 marine animals from 450 different species. Its most popular feature is the oceanarium, where visitors can see sharks, ocean sunfish and rays swimming above them from the 80-meter-long underwater glass tunnel.
Read more about Aquarium Barcelona
|L’Aquárium de Barcelona offers a great opportunity to admire the diversity of the Mediterranean maritime world.
MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art)
MACBA is the modern part of the Barcelona Art Museum. It occupies a 3 story modernist building within El Raval and it hosts temporary as well as permanent art exhibitions of pieces created from the second half of the 20th century onwards.
Read more about MACBA
Plaça Reial is an amazingly beautiful and vibrant square that lies next to La Rambla within the Gothic Quarter. A fountain of the Three Graces can be found here, which is decorated to its sides by two street lamps designed by Antoni Gaudí. Also, the place is very popular with Flamenco enthusiasts.
Gran Teatre del Liceu (Liceu Opera House)
Gran Teatre del Liceu (or just Liceu) is the biggest opera house in Barcelona and also one of the most well-known in Europe. Opera and symphony concerts as well as ballet shows are hosted throughout the year at Liceu Theatre. However, many of the visitors come to see even just the building for its beauty and architectural splendor.
Read more about Gran Teatre del Liceu
|Gran Teatre del Liceu (Opera House Liceu) is a theater in Barcelona. It is adjacent to La Rambla boulevard
and it is close also to Palau Güell and to Barcelona Cathedral.
Palau Güell (Güell Palace)
The Palau Güell, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a palace designed by Antoni Gaudí for one of his first significant patrons – Eusebi Güell. It is a structural masterpiece that is meant to represent a metaphor of the owner’s rise to wealth from his humble beginnings.
Read more about Palau Güell
|Palau Güell is visited by numerous families, like all Modernista buildings it is very colorful and full of imagination,
therefore it can be very enjoyable also for kids.
Palau de la Música Catalana (The Catalan Music Palace)
A large concert hall noted not only for the cultural events that it is hosting, but mostly for its architectural beauty.
Read more about Palau de la Música Catalana
Font de Canaletes (Canaletes Fountain)
It is a fountain located on the North part of La Rambla, near Plaça de Catalunya, and it represents a symbol of Catalan identity. It is the most popular meeting point for the supporters of the FC Barcelona and there is a legend saying that anyone who drinks from the fountain will return to Barcelona.
Museu de Cera (Wax Museum)
It hosts over 300 statues of real and fictional celebrities. Some of the celebrities are from an international background while others are local Spanish and of course, Catalan.
Read more about Museu de Cera
|In Museu de Cera visitors can admire full size wax figures of important historical personalities and
media celebrities from Catalonia and from all over the world.
Mirador de Colom (The Columbus Monument)
The monument was built in the honor of Christopher Columbus as he chose the port of Barcelona to disembark his ships on return from America. It is located at the Southern edge of La Rambla.
Read more about Mirador de Colom
|Mirador de Colom (Columbus Monument) is located in between Barcelona’s old port, which is called Port Vell, and La Rambla area.