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Las Ramblas
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Las Ramblas is often referred to as the heart and soul of Barcelona. Technically, it refers to the area around five interconnecting, divided roads (each with Ramblas in its name) running from the Barcelona Harbor to Catalunya Square. The wide meridian of the Ramblas' roads contains a linear tree-lined park which extends the distance of all five roads.
Barcelona's main sights:
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Las Ramblas
The Harbor
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Segrada Familia
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Bibliography for Barcelona Pages

Travel Now info: (from the Rough Guide)
The Ramblas and Old Town

Europe Destination Guide (TravelNow)

Above photo - Diners enjoy a late evening on the Ramblas.

Long ago, a streambed ran along the course where now the Rambla roads run. When it was a stream, water would occasionally flow down the Rambla, but most of the time its sandy bed was used as a roadway by the locals. Over time, the steam's water was diverted and the streambed was made over into a paved road.

A section of the Ramblas known as the Rambla Estudis contains the bird market.

While Barcelona’s sights are scattered about the city, the Ramblas is close to the harbor and Gothic Quarter, making it as central a location as one can find in Barcelona. Up and down the Ramblas can be found a variety of shops and plenty of hotels. At night the meridian of the Ramblas transforms, as waiters appear, outside cafes open, and street musicians hold concerts.

A famous landmark on the Ramblas, this dragon was once used to advertise the location of an umbrella shop. The umbrella shop has closed, but the dragon remains. The dragon was taken down once during a remodeling of the building; public uproar resulted in its return.

Arriving at the Ramblas:
I had arranged for our first night on this visit to Spain to be at a hotel right on the Ramblas. As my travel companion and I waited for the taxi driver to fetch our bags from his trunk, I was quickly approached by a suspicious character wanting to know the time. On exiting the taxi, I had noticed a couple of similarly questionable characters on the other side of the street. I now heard them heading in my direction. “D*m," I thought to myself, "not in Barcelona an hour and I'm dealing with pickpockets!"

Living statues populate the Ramblas
Slinging one bag over my shoulder so it rested on the pocket that held my billfold and then quickly grabbing the second bag off the street where the fleeing taxi driver had left it, I replied to the man’s "What time is it?"question. “No, sé" (I do not know). I then quickly started moving. The man looked flustered. Was he a pickpocket, or just a rumpled man without a watch? I will never know.
A few days later I watched a similarly suspicious fellow, perhaps even the same man, try a bankcard in one of the Ramblas’ ATMs. He entered a code but received no money. Then he hit a button on the console, and the card ejected. The man shrugged. Turning to his friends, he smiled, and they laughed; I suspect that in a few hours the scene would replay itself as the man tried to win the ATM lottery.

We had a wonderful time on the Ramblas and in Barcelona, but one still needs to keep on the lookout for potential trouble. To learn more about pickpockets, read my Safe Travel page.

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Information on this page is from my October 2003 visit to Spain.
Page last updated March, 2007.