A r e a s
La Rambla | Waterfront | Barrio G˛tic and Ribera | El Raval | El Eixample | Gracia | Montju´c |Areas printable page
Barcelona is a varied, lively, modern and beautiful city. It doesn't matter if you're interested in modern or classical arts, contemporary architecture or historic buildings, small museums or big, there is something to see for everyone. To host the Olympic games of '92, brand-new neighborhoods were designed, new museums were built, streets were renovated, in short, the city got a completely new and very attractive appearance. Limited City map.
This is the most famous street in Barcelona. The Ramblas
exists of several parts, beginning at Plaša de Catalunya, and ending 1,5 km (+- 1 mile)
further at the harbor. Plaša de Catalunya is a nice green and
lively plaza in the middle of the city center, with several bus stops and underneath an
important metro and train station. El Corte InglŔs, the impressive grey building is the
oldest department store in the city. The tourist information center also has an office at
Pl. de Catalunya n░17 s ( 9am - 9pm). Really everyone walks on the Ramblas: businessmen
getting to their jobs, housewives with shopping bags, strollers who want to see and be
seen, and lots of tourists. Walking under the trees is a nice experience, even if you're
not interested in the flower stands, bookstands, birdcages or the various street artists.
The walk from one end to the other can take you 30 minutes or even hours, just as you
like. Next to the pedestrian boulevard is traffic rushing by, and at both sides of the
street there are lots of shops, hotels and restaurants.
The Ramblas exists of five parts starting at Plaša de Catalunya: Rambla de Calanetes, Rambla del Estudis, Rambla St. Josep - also called Rambla del flors because of the flower stands -, Rambla del Capuxtins and Rambla de Santa Monica.
There are lots of places of interest on and near La Rambla, I'll describe them in order coming from Pl. de Catalunya. Rambla Map (90 kb).
The third street on the left side is Carrer Portaferissa, a shopping street. More details on shopping page. This street leads into the Barrio Gotic and Ribera, the oldest districts.
At your right is La Boqueria, a popular indoor food market with an enormous roof made of steel and glass. A little further on is the new opera house, El Liceu. The old opera, burned down completely in 1994.
Plaša Reial, on the left, is a nice plaza with palm trees and pastel colored fašades. The lampposts were designed by Gaudi.
The pattern of the paving has been designed by Mirˇ, which is very obvious at the fourth part of the Rambla (photo).
At Nou de la Rambla, a street at the right side, you'll see Palau GŘell, designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, with a typical wrought iron gate. The hall can be entered for free.
|At La Rambla n░ 7, is the arts centre, Centre d' Arts Santa
Monica situated; a striking building with a wooden platform. In the cellar is a
beautiful hall, a modern construction in the middle of relics of a monastery displaying
changing exhibits of contemporary art. There is also a restaurant with terrace on the
When you turn to the right at this part of the Rambla (almost at the end), you'll get to Barrio Xino, the prostitution area. This is certainly the least beautiful or clean part of the city, some say it's unsafe (I haven't noticed it, but be careful anyway, there is not much police around here) but it is a quite amusing experience to stroll around here.
At the end of the Rambla, the monument of Christopher Columbus is overlooking the city. Columbus on top of the column was meant to show the way to the 'New World', but by mistake he is pointing in the wrong direction, he points at Malaga. You can get to the top of the statue by elevator, for a view of the Ramblas and the harbor.
If you walk further to the harbor, you'll get to the completely renovated waterfront.
The Rambla can be reached by metro line 1, stop Pl. Catal. and line 3, stop Pl. Catalunya or Liceu and several buses.
This area exists of different parts at the
seaside. These areas have been changed the most before the Olympic games. Just cross the
street at the Columbus statue and you'll bump into the waterfront.
Right in front of you, you'll see the beautiful wooden bridge connecting the mainland with Moll d'Espanya and the marina Port Vell. At Moll d'Espanya there is the shopping mall Maremagnum with a gigantic mirror wall in which the water reflects beautifully. Also at Moll d'Espanya you'll find an IMAX theatre and an aquarium with displays on flora and fauna of the Mediterranean sea.
At the left of Columbus you'll see the promenade Moll de la Fusta with funny red bridges, palm trees, bars and restaurants. At the end of the promenade stands Cap de Barcelona, a colorful sculpture made by Roy Lichtenstein. At this point you can start your walk to Barceloneta, passing the nice promenade around Museu d'historia de Catalunya leading to the Olympic village.
Barceloneta is a typical, old fishing neighborhood which has been cleaned up within the scope of the Olympic games. It is still very picturesque with his narrow streets, small old bars and laundry hanging out to dry between the balconies full of flowers. If you have the time, just stroll through the small streets, there is nothing spectacular to see, but it is nice. Following the shoreline you'll pass some beaches, they look nice, but I don't know if the water is clean enough to swim in. In the distance you can see the buildings of the Olympic village. It takes quite a walk from the Rambla to the Olympic village, but it is a pleasant one.
If you don't feel like walking, take a bus or metro line 4, stop Barceloneta or Ciutadella Villa OlÝmpica.
During the games of '92, the Olympic village had to accommodate thousands of athletes and spectators. For this purpose architects from all over the world designed modern and striking buildings. Eye-catchers are the two tower buildings, housing a hotel and an office building, 142 meters high. The Villa OlÝmpica hotel is surrounded by a steel frame, so it seems like it is in scaffolding. In front of those buildings stands the golden sculpture Pez y Esfera, designed by Frank Gehry, representing a headless fish. The circular building a little further on accommodates the meteorological service. The beautiful promenade is full of sculptures. Especially in the evening, this is a very lively neighborhood with lots of trendy restaurants and bars. Everything is rather new here, 5000 apartments were built in the Olympic Village and several parks and plazas were designed.
Barrio G˛tic and Ribera
G˛tic and Ribera are different areas but because they are adjacent and both are
part of the old city (Ciutat Vella), I've put them together.
The Gothic area borders the left of the Rambla, Ribera lays a bit more eastwards. It are classical areas, you 'll find it interesting here if you like the architecture and the atmosphere of before the 20th century. Especially the gothic area is crowded with tourists, I find Ribera more pleasant.
The Barrio G˛tic is full of history, there are still parts of a 2300 year old Roman wall, lots of old palaces and plazas. Centrally located is the Gothic cathedral, which was started building in the 14th century, and the fašade only being finished in the 19th century. The City hall is on Plaša Jaume I.
Ribera is separated from the Barrio G˛tic by the avenue Via Laietana. Some more gothic buildings can be found here. Carrer Montcada is an important alley with art galleries, palaces and restaurants. Important is the Picasso museum at n░15, with a collection showing the evolution of the artist beginning at his early works.
At carrer Montcada 25 is the famous art gallery Galeria Maeght situated.
At Carrer Sant PÚre MÚs Alt is the Palau de la M˙sica Catalana, a beautiful Modernist concert hall built by DomŔnech i Montaner in 1908 and tastefully renovated in the eighties.
This is a student area and there is some
interesting contemporary architecture and museums to see. The area starts at the
University, Plaša d' Universidad . At
Montalegre n░ 5 is the Centre de Cultura Contemporani located. Worth a look for the
square in the middle of the buildings, with a mirror wall, surprisingly reflecting the
harbor, a few hundred meters from here. Closed on Monday.
If you're at the back of this building, you'll see two great contemporary buildings. One of them is the MACBA (photo); Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (museum of contemporary art) at Plaša Angels n░ 1.
|During the half of the 20th century there was an
increase of population and the city became too small. Architect I. Cerda was appointed to
design new areas to host workers but he had to work especially on accommodation for the
middle class. His plans were changed completely, the planned parks were deleted and the
only thing that was kept, was the chessboard pattern of the streets. However, El Eixample
is still an area with great importance in architectural way. It is more like an open air
museum, where some of the most striking Modernist buildings are displayed. It is in many
ways a very pleasant area, almost in every street you will discover beautiful houses, and
the main streets are filled with elegant shops.
More information about Modernism and the important architects of this period on the architecture page.
Rambla de Catalunya is a a continuation of the other Rambla, but
it is completely different, because it had to become the promenade for the rich. Expensive
shops and some beautiful houses are located here, especially the Modernist fašades of n░
21 to 27 are worth to look at. If you walk on this street you'll see in a street on the
right, Carrer d Arago, the spectacular steel wire work of art of Antoni Tapies on
the roof of Fundacio Tapies, a gallery with works of the Spanish painter
and other contemporary artists.
More or less in the same area, at Carrer de Provenša is
The district of Gracia is not very well known
among tourists and there isn't really anything spectacular to see, but
it is a pleasant residential area, nice to stroll trough when you visit Parc GŘell which is not far from
here. Parc GŘell is another wonderful Gaudi project. The park was designed to become a
residential area for the rich, but the project was canceled because there weren't enough
investors and because World war 1 broke out, the building stopped at three houses, in one
of which Gaudi lived during the building. Casa GaudÝ , displaying some
of his furniture and works can be visited. At the entrance of the park are an office and
porter's lodge with a mosaic tower, and the Dragonfountain. Eye-catcher is the long mosaic
coilbench, forming the border of a plaza, supported by 100 pillars : the Greek pillarhall.
The park is big, but the most important stuff is not far from the entrance. Standing on
the plaza you have a beautiful view over the city.
Address: Carrer Albert Llamas. Free.
Bus 24, 25, 31, 32, 74 or metro line 3, stop Lesseps, but then you have a good walk uphill ahead. At Lesseps you can take the mini bus 116 to the park.
The mountain Montju´c is the green area of the
city. Because of the world fair in 1929 parks, palaces, pavilions, sports stadiums and
exhibition halls were built. Some of those buildings remained and house some important
museums or were renovated to accommodate sports activities during the Olympic games of
1992. I'll start my summary at the foot of the mountain.
At Carrer Tarragona is the Parc Joan Mirˇ situated,where his high sculpture 'Dona i ocel' (woman and bird )is standing in the middle of a pool. The parc is dedicated to Mirˇ, but there is only one sculpture of him in it.
Plaša d'Espanya is nearby, and is with his two towers and fountain the entrance gate to Montju´c. The fountain is colorfully lit at night. Standing here gives you a view of the stairs to the mountain, with on top the Palau Nacional, housing the Museu d'Art Catalunya (Medieval art).
When you've climbed up the stairs, and you turn to the right, you'll pass the famous 'Barcelona pavilion', also called 'Mies van der Rohe pavilion'. The architect designed this famous building for the world fair in '29. After being used as the German pavilion, it had been demolished. Because the building was considered as a milestone in modern architecture, it has been rebuilt on the same spot in 1985. You can visit the pavilion, changing exhibitions and the famous Barcelonachair are displayed. You don't have to enter the building to get a nice view of it, reflecting in the pool.
Higher on the mountain are the Olympic facilities located. The Olympic stadium (photo)was built in1929 but has been beautifully renovated to accommodate 70.000 people during the games of 1992. You can take a free look in the stadium, daily from 10a.m. - 6 p.m..
The futuristic sports palace Palau d'esports San Jordi,(photo left) was designed for the games in '92 by the Japanese architect Isozaki and can seat up to 15.000 people. The plaza in front of the building offers a great view; on the left the Olympic stadium with in front water terraces, at the entrance of the San Jordi sports palace steel wire sculptures and to the right the Calatrava, a 188 meters high communication tower, looking like a giant needle with a wire trough it.
Of course lots of events, like concerts, are organized at the Olympic stadium and at San Jordi sports palace.
On top of the mountain is Montju´c castle, with the military museum situated. You can get here by cable car.
If you like Mirˇ's work, don't miss Fundašio Joan Mirˇ at parc de Montju´c. At this great museum paintings, sculptures and tapestries of Miro are displayed in a fantastic building with a sculpture garden on the roof. There is also a hall for temporary exhibitions of modern art. A restaurant and two large museum shops are located near the entrance hall. Visit their site for more details : www.bcn.fjmiro.es .
Address: Parc de Montju´c. Closed on Monday. From October - June open from Tuesday - Saturday: 11a.m. - 7p.m., Thursday open till 9.30 p.m., Sunday and holidays : 10 am -2.30pm.From July trough September, the museums stays open longer, from Tuesday - Saturday : 10am - 8pm, Thursday open till 9.30 p.m., Sunday and holidays : 10 a.m. -2.30 p.m..
Can be reached by Funicular from Paral.lel metro station and with bus 61 from Pl. d'Espanya.
Montjuic can be reached in several ways: by foot (but it's a walk uphill), by bus and with metro line 1 and 3 (stop Pl. d'Espanya), or with line 2 and 3 (stop at Paral.lel where you can step on the funicular ).
Some simple advice: on Montjuic there are not many places to eat, all I saw were some small food stands between the stairs of Pl. Espanya and there is a restaurant (not cheap I guess) at the Fundašio Joan Mirˇ, so it's not bad to have something to drink or eat with you.
Pedralbres is a residential area for the rich, but important for soccer lovers as the stadium and museum of FC. Barcelona is located here at Aristides Maillol.
More information, and opening hours on page museums.
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