Possibly the most visited spot in Barcelona is La Rambla, a shady boulevard connecting Plaça de Catalunya and Plaça del Portal de la Pau near the Old Port (Port Vell). Since 1766, this promenade, which follows the line of the former medieval city wall, has been a central meeting point for locals, and it’s still popular, especially with tourists. La Rambla is about a mile long and lined with historical buildings, restaurants, cafes, and a number of artists and living statues. And, though we don’t recommend spending too much time here, it is a unique aspect of the city and worth making that requisite stroll.
Here’s a run down on some of what there is to see, starting near Plaça de Catalunya and ending near Port Vell:
Palau de la Virreina, – at #99 this 18th century palace is considered ‘a jewel of baroque civil architecture’ and was the residence of Manuel d’Amat, Viceroy of Peru. Today the palace houses the Barcelona Cultural Institute and Image Center which hosts exhibits on photography, visual arts and literature.
Boqueria Market – Barcelona’s first traveling market and though it’s historically significant, keeping with a centuries-old tradition of peddling goods and produce along La Rambla, we found it to be highly overrated. Boqueria Market is extremely crowded and really touristy, and the food we tried here was mediocre and overpriced.
Casa Figueras – this building at #83 has a colorful Art-Nouveau façade designed in 1902 by painter, stage- and architectural designer Antoni Ros i Güell. In 1842, the building housed the Figueras family pasta and semolina shop, and since 1986 it’s served as one location of the Escriba Pastelería selling artfully created confections.
Gran Teatre del Liceu – the city’s opera house located at #63 is a grand 19th century theatre that’s still open for performances (and tours).
Mirador de Colom – found at the lower end of La Rambla at Plaça del Portal de la Pau, just across the traffic circle from the Museu Marítim de Barcelona (the Maritime Museum) this column commemorates Christopher Columbus’ return to Spain in 1493 following his discovery of the New World. That’s Columbus at the top of the monument pointing the way to the Americas. The column was constructed in 1888 as part of the Barcelona Universal Exposition and is open to the public, offering a viewpoint from just over 160 feet above the harbor.
In general, it’s usually a good idea to avoid shopping or buying anything to eat or drink along La Rambla. We’ve found better and less expensive restaurants and shops just a few streets off of the boulevard. Be aware that there are pickpockets at work, and some of them are quite young.