In the centre of the city is the busy avenue known as Las Ramblas, which visitors to Barcelona should add to their `must see’ list if they want to know anything about Barcelona.
Las Ramblas is 1.2 kilometres long. It beings at Port Vell and ends at the Placa Catalunya. On one side of Las Ramblas is the area known as Raval, and on the other is the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The avenue consists of three parts, narrow roadways on each side of a wide pedestrian mall. There is much to see as you walk along the centre of Las Ramblas, particularly as there are live performances by buskers, human statues and artists who will readily paint your portrait or draw your caricature.
Although Las Ramblas is its generic name, it is actually a series of smaller streets which, individually, are called La Rambla, so the complexion of the boulevard can change as you move along from south to north, or vice versa. Generally speaking, the area near Port Vell is more downmarket and seedy, than the more refined areas that are closer to the Placa Catalunya. As Las Ramblas is a magnet for tourists, visitors are warned to be wary of pickpockets, who are known to target tourists. So you should be extra vigilant about securing your valuables when you visit.
There are three Metro stations that are scattered along the length of Las Ramblas. There is also plenty of accommodation available in the area and many cafes and restaurants which cater to the tourist trade.
At the Port Vell end of Las Ramblas is a massive structure called the Colon Monument, that is 60 metres in height and has a statue of Christopher Columbus at its peak. Also near here is the Maritime Museum, the Wax Museum, Barcelona Aquarium and IMAX.
One of Barcelona’s more interesting attractions, the Museum of Erotica, is located about half way along Las Ramblas. This is not a museum that people with a prudish demeanour would enjoy, but those with an interest in human attitudes towards eroticism should enjoy a stirring time here.
One of my favourite places along las Ramblas is the Boqueria Market which is chock a block full of fresh produce and all sorts of gourmet goodies. The entrance is near the Liceu, Barcelona’s Opera House, and the market dates back to 1217, when it was an open air market. Today much of the market is covered, but there are still parts that are outside. Spain is well known for the quality of its produce and its wines, olive oils, meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables are highly regarded. At the Boqueria Market you will find the best of Catalonian produce.
Also on Las Ramblas you can visit the Font de Canaletes, Barcelona’s largest fountain, and the city’s most popular meeting point, and El Corte Ingles, a huge department store near Placa Catunya where you can grab many a bargain.