Barcelona's Famous Ramblas

The Street You Wish Would Never End

The Ramblas - Barcelona's most famous street is actually five streets in one: La Rambla de Canaletes, La Rambla dels Estudis, La Rambla de Sant Josep (or La Rambla de les Flors), La Rambla dels Caputxins (or La Rambla del Centre) and La Rambla de Santa Mònica.

Barcelona City Council also insist on adding La Rambla del Mar - a walkway that juts out into the sea connecting the Port Vell with Maremagnum and was finished in 1994 - but this is open to discussion to put it mildly.

Although La Rambla is what is written on the street sign, the fact that there are 5 Ramblas is why its commonly known as Las Ramblas in Spanish or Les Rambles in Catalan.

As I am writing in English, I generally use The Ramblas to refer to the street as a whole.

The name is derived from the arabic ramla meaning torrent and La Rambla was a seasonal river running outside the city walls in medieval times, which became used as a sewer.

It eventually dried up and when the medieval city walls were demolished Barcelonans started using it as a place to take a stroll.

Covered over in 18th century, it was described by Federico García Lorca as 'the street you wish would never end' and it remains a magical attraction to local Barcelonans and tourists alike.

The articles in this Ramblas Section of form part of the documentation for my Walk Down The Ramblas Guided Tour and just like the tour, begin at the Ramblas Exit of Catalunya Metro station on La Rambla de Canaletes and finish at the Columbus Monumument on La Rambla de Santa Mònica by the Port.


La Rambla de Canaletes

The top section of The Ramblas, the part you see as you come out of Catalunya metro station, is called  La Rambla de Canaletes.

It is named after the famous wrought iron drinking fountain shown in the picture, El Font de Canaletes.

Rambla de Canaletes goes down as far as Carrer Tallers on your right and Carrer Canuda and Carrer Santa Anna on your left.

This is where FC Barcelona fans celebrate the club's major successes and I've been here on many occasions to celebrate Ligas, Champions Leagues and victories over Real Madrid.

Legend has it that if you drink water from the fountain, you will always return to Barcelona.

This is what happened to me back in 1986, so think before you drink!

La Rambla dels Estudis

La Rambla dels Estudis covers from the junction of Carrer de la Bonsuccés and Carrer de la Canuda down to Carrer del Carme and Portaferrissa.

The Rambla dels Estudis is so called because it is the site of Barcelona's original university - the Estudi General - which was closed by the Spanish King Felipe V in 1714, when the Catalan language was also illegalised for the first time.

This section includes the Reial Acadèmia de Ciències i Arts, where Trotskyist George Orwell was part of the internecine battle with Stalinists, which he recounts so vividly in his Spanish Civil War opus, Homage to Catalonia.

Other interesting buildings include the Palau Moja and Hotel 1898 but it is the imposing wall of the Església de Betlem that dominates the Ramblas dels Estudis for me.

La Rambla de Sant Josep

La Rambla de Sant Josep , which takes its name from a convent, which once stood where the market is now, is also known as La Rambla de les Flors.

This is because of all the flower stalls, which still survive to this day, and it is the most picturesque and iconic section of The Ramblas.

The Rambla de les Flors stretches down as far as Carrer Hospital and Pla de la Boqueria with its famous dragon on the corner.

The high point is the fabulous Boqueria Market also known as the Mercat de Sant Josep but you also shouldn't miss the Palau de la Virreina or the Palau Nou de la Rambla.

La Rambla dels Caputxins

La Rambla dels Caputxins is also called the Rambla del Centre and goes down as far as Carrer Escudellers on your left.

The Rambla del Centre is the oldest and busiest section of The Ramblas with Carrers Sant Pau, Unió and Nou de la Rambla on your right and Carrer Ferran and Plaça Reial on your left, providing a nexus between the Barri Gòtic and Raval neighbourhoods.

There are many significant buildings but perhaps the most important is El Gran Teatre del Liceu, the pride of Barcelona's upper classes and one of Europe's most renowned opera houses.

The photo shows Cartalan artist Joan Miró's striking pavement mosaic, which occupies the central part of the Rambla dels Caputxins.

La Rambla de Santa Mònica

The last section of La Rambla proper is La Rambla de Santa Mònica, which takes you down as far as the Columbus Monument and the port.

The Rambla de Santa Mònica is noticeably quieter than the Rambla del Centre and you'll usually find artists at work doing portraits for tourists as well as the famous human statues, who were moved down here from the crowded top of The Ramblas a few years ago.

Santa Mònica can be quite a bit raunchier at night, however, as its proximity to the port means that it has traditionally been part of the red light district.

Keep an eye out for the old Teatre Principal, the Museu de la Cera or Wax Museum and Arts Santa Mònica, which is housed in the old convent from which this section takes its name.

The high point, though, is the marvellous Martime Museum, located in the medieval Drassanes Reials shipyards at the bottom on your right.

La Rambla de Mar

Technically, La Rambla de Mar isn't part of The Ramblas but as it is included in most of the tourist guidebooks, I'll cover it as well.

It's a pier that justs out into the sea, which was built for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and links the Port Vell with Maremagnum.

The Barcelona city council decided to publicise it as the sixth rambla but more than 20 years later they still haven't convinced local Barcelonans.

The Rambla del Mar is, however, a lovely spot and gives fantastic views of Montjuïc and the Barri Gòtic so a promenade along it is highly recommended.

Ramblas Accommodation

Barcelona Ramblas Hotels

There is a fantastic choice of very reasonably-priced one and two star hotels as well as apartments, hostels and guesthouses on the Ramblas itself, which is quite surprising, given the prestigious address.

A little less surprisingly, you'll also find some of Barcelona's most prestigious 4 and 5 Star hotels located on its most famous street.

Bearing in mind the excellent location, you'll be pleased to find very reasonably-priced accommodation for everyone from honeymooners, families to backpackers and football fans.

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