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Las Ramblas: Barcelona’s famous pedestrian avenue invites visitors to take a ramble

By MICHAEL ABRAMS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 18, 2016

There is a lot to see and do in Barcelona.

The Spanish city, the capital of the province of Catalonia, is famous for its amazing Gaudi buildings, Montjuic Park with the sites of the 1992 Olympics, Camp Nou stadium, the Picasso Museum and Las Ramblas.

This avenue, stretching from Placa de Catalunya to the Christopher Columbus monument, is a pedestrian paradise squeezed in between the bustling traffic of the city.

A confusing aspect is its name. Signs and maps refer to it as La Rambla, La Rambles or Las Ramblas. The last might be most accurate, as a close look at some maps and the street signs along the way will show that it is made up of many Rambla.

Starting from the Placa de Catalunya, walking toward the Columbus monument, Las Ramblas starts out wide, but as you walk it becomes narrower.

As it does, flower shops appear, selling their blooming bounty mostly to the locals.

Traveling on, you come to a section populated by artists, selling the sights of Barcelona or a portrait of yourself.

In the next section, as the lane gets wider again, you will see tourists dining and sipping large glasses of sangria.

While there is nothing wrong with eating here, we do have a tip for a more interesting food experience. More on that later.

Toward the end of Las Ramblas, you come to what the street is perhaps best known for today — human statues. They stand in fantastic costumes, posing for the tourists and hoping for some of their coins.

Las Ramblas ends at the Columbus monument with old Chris at the top, far above the bustle below, pointing out to sea.

No need to stop there, though. Mosey on down to the port and check out the boats moored there. From here you can take a cable car up to Montjuic.

As fun as Las Ramblas is, there is plenty else to see without wandering too far afield.

Hungry after all that walking? Head back up Las Ramblas and keep a lookout for the Mercado de La Boqueria, Barcelona’s famous food market. Here you’ll find a concoction of sights and smells. Seafood, meat and fish meet fruit, vegetables and wine.

At many of the market’s stands you can sit down and enjoy a freshly prepared meal, or just tapas and wine. This is a popular pastime, and seats aren’t always easy to find.

After satisfying your hunger, walk up the same side of the street and look for Palau Guell, just off Las Ramblas. It was one of the first important buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi.

Cross back over Las Ramblas and delve into the narrow lanes that make up the Gothic quarter, Barcelona’s old town. Check out the Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi, and farther in, the Barcelona Cathedral.

Despite the throngs of tourists, almost unavoidable in Barcelona, rambling up, down and around Las Ramblas is a great way to see a slice of Barca life.

abrams.mike@stripes.com

 

One of the human statues on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain. The pedestrian area is known for its street artists. Here the statues seem to be livlier than they are in other cities.
MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

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