Barcelona's busy main street. There's a large island that runs down the middle of it from the Plaça Catalunya to Columbus Monument. On this island you can see many street performers, artists, musicians, newsagents, flower stalls, people trying to sell tourist junk to you, and a metro station or two. The street is quite old and picturesque, and generally quite busy. There is lots of nice architecture to see, and a few monuments too. Don't make the mistake of stopping for food or drink on the terraces on La Rambla, they overcharge quite a lot in my opinion.

(Thanks Girlface and Koala).
La Rambla refers to "the torrents" which would
to be completed.

I've walked Las Ramblas, but not with real intent...

The rambling bit

Stretching two kilometers into the city centre from the port Las Ramblas of Barcelona is one of the highlights of any visit to the bustling colourful city. Here you will see showcased an amazing array of reasons to fall in love, if you haven't already, with this enchanting Spanish city, holding as it does something for almost everyone.

Built on a dried river bed Les Rambles are made up of a long boulevard with a pedestrianised sixty foot center and lined by a circular one way traffic system, and with its extremely narrow sidewalks the heaviest traffic is often the pedestrianised. On either side of this walk you will see countless cafes, restaurants, shops, museums and even an auditorium, also conveniently located are two tube stations (Liceu and Drassanes), The Liceu with a small discreet beautiful entrance which will, if you wish, whisk you away from the hustle and bustle that a walk down the Ramblas may mean.

Sidestreets are many and will lead you deep into the Gothic area of the city. If you do explore you can wander the small, dusty music shops that abound, or into the darker shops where whatever your tastes you will be hard pressed not to buy that sexy leather dress you know you will never wear in public, or maybe even those handcuffs you know you want .... but I digress.

The fact is as you make your way down the promenade there is always something to catch the eye. Numbering the places I have visited on the Ramblas is the Tibetan House where I had tea with the resident lama, sword shop where I had to be torn away from the gorgeous katana worth a month's salary, a small shop where I did buy the most wonderfully multicoloured skirt I ever seen, the Science Museum (Museo de las Ciencias), and some of the best cafe's in the country (which I believe that considering the location and the atmosphere are moderate in their prices).

Of course I could always talk about the time I tried to buy a live duckling for my cats from a stall there and was thankfully convinced that it would indeed be cruelty to animals (even though my cats would probablly disagree) or maybe the time I stopped at a flower stall and bought a pure black rose the likes of which I haven't seen again, and of course a I had an afternoon visit at the local drama school to watch one of my best friends sing "Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend". Maybe you prefer the quiet solitude of the book shops or you are dying to stop for an hour or two at the multi-story arcade.

Or like me, you may want enjoy the spectacle of the people, tourists, locals and street performers alike as you make your way through the crowds. Even though I must admit last time I tried this a few years back me and my then boyfriend were interrupted by a a protest against the US embargo on Cuba, which had managed to accumulate fireworks, tourists and what looked to be half a circus by the time it got to us and took my boyfriend with it for the next three hours.

The serious bit

Built on a dry bed of a long gone river, Las Ramblas sprung up a an improvised horsepath next to the wall that marked the limits of medieval Barcelona. By the 15th century the bustling city had expanded and the nature and character of the street had changed. due to it's position it had become the first stop for merchants, traders and sailors arriving in the town.

In the late 18th century the town hall started by replacing section of the wall with a central pedestrian promenade. By 1856 the wall was gone and Las Ramblas had almost the same appearance as it does today.

Originally named and dived up into seven different streets it has been agglomerated officially into one and it is a rare map indeed you will see it separated into it's seven sections, but for the record they are:

Rambla de Canaletes
Rambla dels Estudis
Rambla de les Flors
Rambla de Sant Josep
Rambla dels Caputxins
Rambla de Santa Mònica
Rambla de Mar

As an interesting note on the first stretch of Las Ramblas you can find a cast iron fountain called "La Font de Canaletes" which is one of the important symbols of life in Barcelona. built in the 19th century it has the myth attached to it that whoever drinks from it's water will return to Barcelona one day and now has turned into the spot where fans gather to celebrate when F.C. Barcelona (the football team) win any sporting title.

And finally if you do go there make sure, for a number of reasons, not least the hot chocolate, that you stop here:

Cafe de L'Opera
La Rambla 74, Barcelona
Week hours: 8.30am - 2am
Weekend hours: 8.30am - 2am
Telephone: (00 34 93) 317 7585


Note (courtsey of koala):
The official name of the street is La Rambla. People in Barcelona commonly call it Les Rambles (plural). Las Ramblas would be the Spanish way of saying it.

Sources:
all over the web, and memory and koala and my ex.

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