The old port of Barcelona or Port Vell has a long history, being built almost 2,000 years ago. In the past, this port was the most important port of Spain and it made Barcelona one of the largest and wealthiest cities in Spain. The port is known for being the re-entering point for Columbus in Europe to tell the king of Spain about his discovery of a new land – America. This important historical event is captured in the Mirador de Colom (Columbus Monument), that is situated only two minutes away from Port Vell. After the discovery of the new continent, most of the ships traveled to America instead of to the Mediterraneans, and therefore Port Vell became less popular and important. Port Vell went from being a rich and important port to a small and insignificant one. Eventually the port became an area of warehouses and factories.
The old port of Barcelona – Today it is a tourist and entertainment center
In 1992 the Port Vell area went through some serious changes, when Barcelona hosted the Olympic games, and the council of Barcelona built the Olympic Port located north of Port Vell. Since then, this area has become a touristic and recreational area of the city. You can still find some small fishing boats and yachts in the old port, but most of them are touristic cruise ships. Port Vell is not the only port of Barcelona. North to this port there are two other ports: the Olympic Port and the Sant Adria Port. These two ports are more active than the old one but they are less touristy.
|Tourists in the Port Vell Marina
Many of the tourists who visit this area, do so in the summer months. During the winter this area is mostly empty and only some of the indoor attractions can be interesting, such as the shopping area of Maremagnum or the Arena Mall. It is common that tourists visit Port Vell within a tour that includes other nearby attractions, as the El Raval, La Rambla, Parc de la Ciutadella (Citadel Park) or the Barceloneta. A lot of visitors go to the old port and then take the cable car to the Montjuic.
Main Landmarks in Port Vell
A huge shopping complex that used to be the largest shopping mall of Barcelona, before losing its place to El Corte Ingles and Arena Mall.
Museu de Cera (Wax Museum)
A local wax museum located near the old port and the Mirador de Colom, which features wax statues of international celebrities alongside local Catalonian and Spanish celebrities.
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.
Being one of the biggest aquariums that features mediterranean species, it is very recommended for tourists – especially if they are visiting with children.
Read more about Aquarium Barcelona
Mirador de Colom (Columbus Monument)
This sculpture was built during the Barcelona World Exhibition in the memory of the important historical event of Columbus’s return from his first trip and the discovery of America.
Read more about Mirador de Colom
|One can see Barcelona from a bird’s eye view from the top of the pillar, which is accessible by an elevator.
A big attraction for movie lovers and families with children that want to have the full experience of watching an exciting movie in 4D.
You will find plenty of touristic cruise ships in the port, that offers cruises that last between one or two hours to several days. Note that these cruises are available only during the summer months and function according to certain schedules, so make sure to check if you need to book a seat before the arrival or you can buy a ticket on the spot.
The Cable Car of Montjuic
This is a popular attraction in Barcelona that visitors take to travel from the Port to the Montjuic, while admiring the amazing view. The cable car takes off from Port Vell.
Read more about The cable car of Montjuic
Museu Marítim de Barcelona (The Maritime Museum)
The museum sits on the Royal Dockyard structure built in Gothic style that used to be a military structure. Today it is the home of a museum featuring ships and different forms of marine life.
Museo de Historia de Cataluña (The History Museum of Catalonia)
This museum tells the story and the history of the native people of Catalonia.