Walk with us through Las Ramblas to find the spark of energy that has beckoned people for centuries
Probably the first thing you think of when someone mentions Barcelona is the famous “La Rambla or Las Ramblas,” Just as you would name the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Times Square in New York City, or the Champs Elysee in Paris; in Barcelona, this is the area packed full of tourists, local characters and everything in between. It is lined with tacky tourist shops, home to the famous fountain where Barcelona´s football team celebrates its victories, and a stage for many street performers. Underneath it all, however, just as is the case with the Puerta del Sol, or Times Square, there is a lot of grit, a lot of history, and that lingering feeling of excitement you always have the first time you set foot in a city. Here, something is always going on.
La Rambla has been a major part of Barcelona since the early medieval times when it was a river gully. In fact, the name “Rambla” comes from an Arabic word meaning “dry stream.” Also, in the middle ages, when heavy rains filled the river beds, it became a breeding ground for malarial mosquitoes. Not exactly the romantic history you might be imagining when walking down the modern day street.
Until the beginning of the 18th century, when the city walls protecting the shipyard of Drassanes came down, La Rambla was basically a path along a stream. But by the end of the century, La Rambla had been transformed into a tree-lined avenue ending at the port and an impressive statue of Christopher Columbus built for the 1888 Universal Exhibition.
The street played an important part in the city´s daily life throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The Mercado de SantJosep, commonly known as the Boquería, is found along La Rambla, and in the 19th century, the only place you could buy flowers in Barcelona was along the stretch known as “La Rambla de las Flores.” Today you can still see lots of flower stalls brimming with brightly colored flowers, although the original charm is largely missing.
Maybe the best part of wandering down La Rambla is taking time to look at the amazing buildings left over from the early 20th century. This is the area of the city where stories happened, filled with life, with grit, vendors, tourists, food, flowers, heat and closeness. La Rambla is filled with people taking photographs, but the real challenge (which I believe is worth accepting) is to look beyond the camera´s lens and find what remains of the Barcelona of yester year. This is where the true magic of La Rambla lies. Walk with us, looking beyond the souvineer shops, to find the spark of energy that has beckoned people for centuries. We ruskommend Las Ramblas with 5 boquerones.