The Barcelona Ramblas is the most famous street in the whole city. Stretching for 1.2 kilometers through its midst, this street has been a central meeting place for residents since the 18th century. Originally situated outside the walls of the medieval city, Barcelona Ramblas was once the site of a flowing river. In fact, the word ramblas originates from the Arabic word ramla, meaning a sandy riverbed. When the walls came down and the river dried up, sometime around 1766, covenants, monasteries, and a university were built along this new city limit.
Barcelona Ramblas quickly became the ideal place in the city to stroll and congregate, as the rest of the streets were narrow and winding. As it gained in popularity as a meeting place and a crucial aspect of social life in the city, the original buildings were torn down and replaced with marketplace businesses typical of urban gathering places. Known most frequently as La Rambla or Las Ramblas, this busy promenade is actually home to six separate ramblas that were different streams and tributaries before being built up.
Rambla de Mar
From the name you may have inferred that this is the rambla closest to the ocean and is a boardwalk area with little seaside shops and movie theaters. This is the newest addition to Barcelona Ramblas, as for most of its existence the city did not embrace its seaside location. Rambla de Mar was a successful attempt to integrate the beach into the life of the city.
Rambla de Santa Monica
This rambla is named for its original covenant that is now a museum, Centre d’Art Santa Monica. Central to this rambla is the roundabout whose central focal point is the famous Columbus Monument representative to most visitors of the Barcelona Ramblas.
Rambla dels Caputxins
Named for the demolished Capuchin monastery, this rambla is known for the famous Gran Teatre del Liceu, where visitors and residents alike go to see the classics like Swan Lake and also contemporary composers like Mozart Gerhaher. If you’re a fan of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi you’ll love this portion of the promenade where you can see some of his most famous designs like Palau Güell and Plaça Reial.
Rambla Sant Josep
The vibrant marketplace, Mercat de la Boqueria is a favorite place to stop along the Barcelona Ramblas, which replaced yet another covenant in the mid 1900s. Central to this wonderful market is the gorgeous Joan Miró mosaic, an Art Deco masterpiece.
Ramblas dels Estudis
Named for the university that once stood here, there are several historic buildings still to see in this area, including one that houses the city’s first public clock!
Ramblas de Canaletes
Home to the famous Plaça de Catalunya, this rambla is named for the beautiful Canaleta fountain found at its center. The fountain has long been central to the city’s lore, as someone who “drinks water from Canaletes” is known to come from the Barcelona. It has also been said that those who have drunk from the fountain will keep returning to the beautiful Barcelona.
Walking Barcelona Ramblas is the perfect pastime when you visit the city, and is conveniently located at the center of the all the best hubbub. Whether you’re looking for shopping, cafes, or the chance to see some historic buildings, you’ll have no problem spending the better part of a day exploring this street.