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La Rambla


  - 3 opinions

Throbbing heart of the city

Published by Emanuele Benetti — 5 years ago

It is probably the most famous avenue in Europe, if not in the world. It is one of the most popular places among the tourists, one of those places which seems to create an aura of magic and charm only by mentioning its name. And yet, I firmly believe that most people do not even know what to expect when they talk about the Rambla. In the first place, some clarifications about the name are needed. The term Rambla, indeed, originally came from the Arab name of the stream (Raml) that used to flow where the avenue is currently located. It has then become so popular that its meaning has spread, and now the term indicates a large street, often the main avenue of a town. Of course, the Rambla of Barcelona is still (and will always be) the rambla par excellence, and does not need further definition. Furthermore, people normally call it "Las Ramblas", and it would be natural to wonder why do they use the plural to define a single avenue.

As a matter of fact, the Rambla of Barcelona is conventionally subdivided into 5 sections: La Rambla de Canaletes, La Rambla dels Estudis, La Rambla de Sant Josep, La Rambla dels Caputxins, La Rambla de Santa Monica. That is why the use of the plural form is normally justified. But what can you find exactly in this large pedestrian avenue which puts in connection Plaça de Catalunya and Passeig de Colon? The answer is....basically everything and nothing at the same time. Indeed, the reason for its interest are not found in the surroundings, as no landmarks of special importance are situated along the Rambla. The main feature of interest doubtlessly lies in the life which pervades the avenue itself: its very essence is given by the thousands of people which walk along it every day, together with the variety of street merchants who are, in a certain way, the dwellers of the Rambla.

There was a time (not too many years ago) when in the stalls placed along the Rambla you could find almost everything. Animals and plants of all kinds used to cheer up the atmosphere, increasing the already considerable vivacity of the avenue. In 2010, though, an end was put to the presence of the birds market, and in general the number and size of the stalls have been reduced. As a compensation for that, anyway, the presence of mimes, acrobats, living statues and buskers is still considerable, providing to the Rambla the attractions it needs. Moreover, a myriad of small restaurants, kiosks and newspapers stands is scattered all along the avenue, though it is not exactly the cheapest place in Barcelona to buy something!

In saying that along the Rambla there is not much interesting to see, actually, I was not totally in the right. As a matter of fact, there are a few remarkable places worth remarking. Right at the beginning of the avenue, you will find a fountain called Font de Canaletes: it may be useful to stop there for a short break, as according to the tradition it is said that those who drink from it will one day return to Barcelona. The next landmark is the church of Belen located on the right side. Originally built in the 16th century, it has undergone a partial reconstruction after the assault of the anarchists in 1936, which caused heavy damage. Going past the entrance to the market of La Boqueria, you will find the mosaic realised by Joan Miro, in my opinion the most fascinating point of the Rambla. Then the theatre Liceu will follow at short distance, while the final stretch of the avenue, leading to Mirador de Colon, does not present any particular features of interest.

Finally, it is interesting to notice how the Rambla reflects in some way the typical Spanish custom of having a late start in the morning: by comparing three picture taken at different hours (respectively 10 o'clock in the morning, 11 o'clock and noon), it is easy to notice how the number of people, initially very scarce, then grows in an exponential way!

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Il cuore pulsante della città

Published by Emanuele Benetti — 5 years ago

Probabilmente è il più famoso viale d'Europa, insieme ai Campi Elisi, se non del mondo. Senza dubbio, è uno dei luoghi più popolari per i turisti, uno di quei luoghi che sembrano creare un'aura di magia ed incanto al solo menzionarne il nome. Eppure, credo fermamente che la maggior parte della gente non sappia nemmeno cosa aspettarsi quando si parla della Rambla. In primo luogo, sono necessari alcuni chiarimenti sul nome. Il termine Rambla, infatti, deriva originariamente dal nome arabo del ruscello (Raml) che un tempo scorreva dove è ora situato il viale. In seguitò diventò così popolare che il suo significato si è esteso, ed ora il termine indica appunto una via ampia, spesso il viale principale di una città. Ovviamente, la Rambla di Barcellona è ancora (e lo sarà per sempre) la Rambla per eccellenza, e non necessita di ulteriore definizione. Inoltre, la gente è solita riferirsi ad essa come "Las Ramblas", e sarebbe naturale chiedersi il motivo per cui si utilizzi il plurale per definire un singolo viale.

In realtà, la Rambla di Barcellona è convenzionalmente suddivisa in 5 segmenti: La Rambla de Canaletes, La Rambla dels Estudis, La Rambla de Sant Josep, La Rambla dels Caputxins, La Rambla de Santa Monica. Questo è il motivo per cui l'utilizzo della forma plurale è normalmente giustificato. Ma cosa si può trovare esattamente su questo ampio viale pedonale che mete in comunicazione Plaça de Catalunya e Passeig de Colon? La risposta è...praticamente tutto e niente allo stesso tempo. Le ragioni del suo interesse, infatti, non risiedono nell'area circostante, dato che nessun monumento di particolare interesse è situato lungo la Rambla. Il maggior elemento d'interesse è dato senza dubbio dalla vitalità che pervade il viale in sé: la sua stessa essenza consiste nelle migliaia di persone che vi camminano ogni giorno, insieme alla varietà di venditori di strada che sono, in un certo senso, i residenti della Rambla.

Ci fu un tempo (non troppi anni fa, a dire la verità), in cui nelle bancarelle situate lungo la Rambla si poteva trovare davvero di tutto. Animali e piante di ogni tipo ravvivavano l'atmosfera, accrescendo la già considerevole vitalità del viale. Nel 2010, tuttavia, fu decisa la fine del mercato degli uccelli, e in generale il numero e la dimensione delle bancarelle è stato ridotto. In compenso, comunque, la presenza di mimi, acrobati, statue viventi e suonatori di strada è sempre considerevole, fornendo in questo modo alla Rambla le attrazioni di cui ha bisogno. Inoltre, una miriade di ristorantini, chioschi e edicole è sparsa lungo tutto il viale, per quanto non sia esattamente il luogo più economico di Barcellona per fare acquisti!

Affermando che lungo la Rambla non c'è molto di interessante da vedere, in realtà, non ero totalmente nel giusto. In realtà, infatti, vi si trovano alcuni luoghi interessanti che vale la pena di segnalare. Giusto all'inizio del viale, infatti, troverete una fontana chiamata Font de Canaletes: potrebbe essere utile fermarsi per una breve sosta, se è vero che secondo la tradizione si dice che coloro che berranno da essa torneranno un giorno a Barcellona. Il monumento successivo è la chiesa di Belen, situata sul lato destro. Costruita in origine nel XVI secolo, ha subito una parziale ricostruzione dopo l'assalto degli anarchici nel 1936, che causò pesanti danni. Superando l'entrata al Mercato de la Boqueria, troverete il mosaico realizzato da Joan Mirò, a mio modo di vedere il punto più affascinante della Rambla. Seguirà a breve distanza il teatro del Liceu, mentre l'ultimo tratto del viale, che conduce al Mirador de Colon, non presenta particolari elementi di interesse.

Infine, è interessante notare come la Rambla rifletta in molti modi la tipica abitudine spagnola di cominciare la mattina ad un'ora tarda: confrontando tre fotografie scattate ad ore differenti (rispettivamente alle 10 del mattino, alle 11 e a mezzogiorno), è facile notare come il numero di persone, inizialmente assai scarso, cresce in maniera davvero esponenziale!


A must - see street in Barcelona

Published by Martha S — 3 years ago

La Rambla, Las Ramblas, Les Rambles… three different names for the same awesome place, which is a must – visit, when you are in Barcelona! The street of La Rambla is known to go from Placa Catalunya all the way down to the sea, and it is said to be exactly 1200 meters long. More precisely, it ends at the Columbus monument and local people tend to say that this famous street splits the city of Barcelona in half.

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It is also said that La Rambla is heaven for pickpockets and other scammers, but luckily, after a careful inspection of my handbag when I returned home, I figured out that all my stuff is still with me. After all, I usually carry all the important stuff with me, which can be a bad idea here in Barcelona.

The best way to get there

If you would like to take a walk down the La Rambla, the best thing you can do, is go straight to Placa Catalunya. I am going to say that metro is the best way to move around in Barcelona, but please keep in mind that Placa Catalunya is one of the busiest metro stations that I have encountered in Barcelona. After all, several lines are crossing there. And since it is busy, it is also easier to get robbed there. But the good thing is that there are always a lot of policemen around this station, and in La Rambla in general, so maybe they are keeping the thieves away.

But once you make it out of the train (you will most likely have to elbow your way out on rush hours), all you have to do is look for the sign Sortida (which means 'exit') – La Rambla. And you will come up in the middle of this busy street. There are several possible exits and each one comes out at the different point on La Rambla.

Surviving the walk down La Rambla

I have been at La Rambla several times now, at different parts of the day, and also at night, when I was going to a party and returning home later. And I was very surprised, how many people are there. Even during the night!

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Last week (I think that it was Tuesday), I did some bar – hopping with a local guy that I met during my first days in Barcelona. So, eventually we also walked down the La Rambla, because you can find some great bars and nightclubs there. And it is a good idea to ask locals for some suggestions about the best bars down the La Rambla.

After all, I would never be able to discover those great bars by myself! And he was laughing at me when I said that there is a lot of people on La Rambla, if you keep in mind that it is in the middle of the night. He told me that I should go there on a weekend, when the parties start. Well, I somehow know that the street is completely crowded, but if I compare it with my home town in Slovenia, the streets there are always empty after ten o' clock in the evening. Somehow, this street reminds me of Erasmus Corner in Bairro Alto in Lisbon. If you have been there, you know the story.

So, what is the first thing that you have to know when you decide to walk La Rambla? The one that I have already mentioned – pickpockets. Since there is so many people, you can easily become distracted and you will not even know when someone puts his hand in your bag and takes something out. But do not let the fear of being robbed make you stay at home. I probably made it sound as the most dangerous place in the world, but it is more than safe if you take proper care of your belongings. Just use common sense, that is all.

Also, the crowd can be so big that it will seem like you are not even moving forward. So, you can choose to walk on the sidewalk on the left or on the right side of La Rambla. You will get to see the same things, you will just be able to walk faster.

Well, one day when I decided to walk on that sidewalk, a lot of people seemed to have the same idea, so we were moving forward even slower than we would on La Rambla. Well, it was worth trying...

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What can you actually see there?

Well, many things. But I can say that this is definitely the best spot for people – watching that I have been to. Ever. I have not yet encountered a better place for doing so in any of the 26 countries that I have visited so far! If I could, I would spend a few hours every single day at La Rambla. But maybe, after spending so much time there, this place would lost some of its charm.

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But apart from people watching and just walking there, you can also do some souvenir shopping. There are a lot of different stalls, and some of the sellers just put their stuff on the ground. Be prepared for high prices, because, after all, you are in Barcelona.

Also, you can have a drink and a snack (or even better, a tapa) in one of many small bars, that you will see all along La Rambla. The prices are similar in most of them, and do not expect to eat a tapa for less than five Euros. There is always a lot of people at those bars, so it might happen that you will have to wait to place your order. Or you can just move on to the next bar.

A few words for the end…

If you are in a hurry, do not choose La Rambla as the way to your destination, because you will most likely be even more late than you already are. On this street, you will not be able to walk very fast. First of all, you will be distracted by its beauty, and secondly, there will definitely be a lot of other people, making you walk really slow.

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But, on the other hand, from a touristic point of view, this is a great place for a slow stroll all the way down to the famous La Barceloneta beach.

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If you fancy spending a weekend in Barcelona, have a look at this super useful guide, which will show you want you can do in Barcelona for the weekend.

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