Courtesy Turisme de Barcelona/J. Trullàs
There are many exciting stops along La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain.
Laid out in 1766, La Rambla is pedestrian mall that stretches approximately 3/4 of a mile from Barcelona’s city center to the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its central location, this boulevard is a hub of restaurants, shops and historical landmarks. La Rambla is packed full of people as it is very popular with both tourists and local residents. Dotted with street performers, this vibrant section of the city is brimming with Barcelona’s energetic spirit. Below are the must-see attractions on this strip; be sure to take notice of these eclectic stops.
Plaҫa de Catalunya
Considered the starting point of La Rambla, Plaҫa de Catalunya is a large (500,000 square feet) plaza commonly referred to as Barcelona’s city center. Directly underneath the plaza is the central junction of the city’s public transportation system; above ground, this plaza is a meeting point of many of Barcelona’s most significant avenues(Passeig de Gràcia, Rambla de Catalunya, Portal de l'Àngel). Plaҫa de Catalunya is in a section of La Rambla called Rambla de Canaletes, which contains several famous sculptures and landmarks, including the Canaletes Fountain. Legend has it that this fountain, which serves as the city’s most popular meeting place, has a special effect: if you drink from the fountain, you will come back to Barcelona again and again.
The next point of interest on your walk down La Rambla toward the water: the famed Boqueria Market. Legally recognized back in 1840, this commercial landmark dates back to the 13th century. The vast array of meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and sweets found inside this roofed market is a colorful delight that will satisfy any shopper. Come through while hungry and grab a bite at one of many tapas bars churning out authentic dishes native to the region.
Gran Teatre del Liceu
With a seating capacity of over 2,200, this famed opera house—which opened in 1847—is one of the biggest in all of Europe. The theatre was severely damaged in a 1994 fire that threatened to close the doors for good. Thankfully, the choice was made to rebuild and improve the Liceu. In order to complete these renovations, the theatre became a public entity. After undergoing an exhaustive overhaul, the Liceu reopened in 1999 as one of the most modern theatre facilities in all of Europe. Today, the historic theatre presents storied productions of operas and ballets in a venue that nods to its past while radiating a modern flair.
After leaving the Liceu and continuing down La Rambla, take a left turn to check out Plaҫa Reial, located just off the eastern side of the boulevard. This plaza, containing a large number of restaurants and nightclubs, is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Barcelona. Designed in the 19th century, this plaza hosts open air concerts and serves as a popular meeting place. Barcelona’s artistic influences on the square include lampposts designed by Antoni Gaudí. Dotted with its trademark palm trees, Plaҫa Reial hosts a market on Sundays that specializes in coins and stamps.
Next stop on your walking tour of La Rambla is Palau Güell. In the late 1880’s, Eusebi Güell, a wealthy industrialist, landowner, and politician, commissioned this palace for his new home and chose famed local artist Antoni Gaudí as his architect. One of Gaudí’s first residential buildings, this palace contains design elements that hint of things to come in his later works, such as Park Güell. This palace was the only building that Gaudí actually finished and has undergone no significant alterations since its completion.
Near the end of La Rambla is the Maritime Museum, located in a section of the city known as the Royal Shipyards. Opened in 1941, this tourist spot is one of the most imaginative and most visited museums in Barcelona. Housing a large exhibition of model ships, drawings, paintings, and replicas, the museum’s most famous attraction is “The Great Adventure of the Sea,” an interactive exhibition for the whole family. The Royal Shipyards are the largest, most complete historic shipyard conserved in the world, displaying the renowned 13th-century civil architecture.
Monument a Colom
Located at the lower end of La Rambla, the Columbus Monument stands nearly 200 feet tall and effectively takes us to the end of our walking tour. Erected in 1888, this monument marks the location where Christopher Columbus reported to Queen Isabella and Ferdinand after his voyage to the Americas. Set atop a 131-foot column is a 24-foot bronze statue of Columbus, who is depicted pointing east towards his home city of Genoa, Italy. This monument is one of Barcelona’s most recognizable landmarks and a prime photo opportunity for camera-toting tourists.
A Note about Safety on La Rambla
Due to the immense popularity of La Rambla with tourists, theft is an unfortunate consequence. Both pickpockets and scam artists are prevalent along this walk, so we urge travelers to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in order to protect your valuables. Don’t label yourself as a tourist (by stopping and reading a map in open, for example), leave your valuables in a hotel safe, and keep track of bags or purses when dining at a restaurant or using public transportation. One common way these thieves work is by distraction: beware of your possessions if you notice a suspicious street performance or trick that could be used to divert attention from your valuables. At night, La Rambla becomes infused with prostitutes who often double as pickpockets.