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Barcelona Travel Guide

La Rambla

Seven different sections, each with its own name, make up the street called La Rambla. The upper section is named the Rambla de Canaletes(43) after the fountain of Canaletes. Tradition has it that any visitor who drinks its waters will one day come back to Barcelona. A short way down we take a left at C. Santa Anna and come to the square of the same name, where we can stop to view the small Church of santa Anna(44), a Romanesque jewel from the 12th century.

The next section, goes from C. Santa Anna to C. Portaferrissa and is called the Rambla dels Estudis, so named because it housed the Estudi General or medieval University. The portion closest to C. Portaferrissa is reserved for the bird market. On the left-hand side, we find the 17th century Palau Moja(45), austere Baroque in style. On the other side of La Rambla, we see the Baroque Church of Betlem(46), built in the 17th and 18th centuries with a façade of rusticated ashlar. A right turn at C. Carme will take us to the Hospital of Santa Creu(47), a Gothic structure built in the 15th and 16th centuries with an elegant structure of naves with pointed arches, a magnificent cloister and a lovely Tuscan-style courtyard. The building currently houses the Catalunya Library. The portion stretching from C. Carme to C. Hospital is a section flanked by enormous banana trees known as the Rambla de les Flors because of the colorful florist stalls found here. This stretch is the quintessence of Barcelona; its beauty changing with every season. Its most striking adornment is the Palau de la Virrerina(48), (Vicereine's Palace) an 18th century structure built in a quasi-Luis XIV style, currently housing a municipal exhibition center. But the most characteristic place is the popular Boquería Market(49), a delight for all the senses; a seemingly endless succession of stalls crammed with fresh vegetables, meat and fish, as well as bars for a bite to eat or drink.

From the Passeig del Born, scene of medieval tournaments and popular festivals, we take a left at the narrow C. Montcada, the site of numerous palaces. At number 20, we find the 17th century Palau Dalmases(17) with its simple façade which adapts the Catalonian Gothic lines to the Baroque forms, but its main feature in the courtyard is the staircase with its richly carved columns, balustrade and fine arches. At number 23, we see the Casa de la torre Trífora(18), a good example of the original features of 14th century façades. At number 12, we encounter the Palau dels Marquesos de Llió(19), a typical 14th century palace with a lovely open staircase leading from the courtyard to the 16th century Baroque door where the Museu Tèxtil i d'Indumentàre (Textile and Garments Museum) is located; number 14, the Palau Nadal houses the Museu Barbier-Mueller of pre-Columbian Art and at number 15, we find the Palau Aguilar, which houses the Museu Picasso(20) (Picasso Museum), an exquisite 15th century mansion noted for its courtyard and the open staircase bordering the walls with richly carved windows.

Gothic Quarter
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A little farther down, the street widens at the Pla de la Boquería. The Pavement of the central portion was decorated with a design by Joan Miró in 1970. The jewel of this sector was the Gran Teatre del Liceu(50) (Liceu Theater) with its simple façade shrounding one of the most opulent and largest halls in the world. Destroyed by fire in 1994, it is actually renewed. Next we come to the section called the Rambla dels Caputxins. Further down on the right is the Hotel Oriente which occupies the 17th century building of the former Sant Bonaventura School and preserves the convent structure with its cloister.

Shortly, on the right we come to the street of Nou de la Rambla, where we find the Palau Güell(51) (Güell Palace) a building designed by Antoni Gaudí with a façade of stone and wrought iron, and parabolic arches in the entrance hall, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. To our right we see the Plaça Reial(52), an arcaded square built in the mid-19th century flanked by identical buildings. The elaborate six torch lamp-posts are the work of young Antoni Gaudí. Some of the shops on the square seem to have been frozen in time; the most unique of them is the L'Herbolari del Rei, an herbalist's shop adorned with neogothic-style windows with all the ambience of the Romantic age. On Sundays a stamp and coin market is held in the square.

The Pla del Teatre is the next stretch and owes its name to the first theater in the city built here in the 16th century. In the square, there is a monument to Frederic Soler, the founder of modern Catalonian theater. On the left-hand side of the street, we find the Teatre Principal(53) (Principal Theater), a Baroque building recovered as a theater.

The lower section is known as the Rambla de Santa Mònica, a wide avenue with no trees. To the right is the large 17th century Church of Santa Mònica(54), its remarkable Baroque cloister shrouded by an insignificant exterior, now the Center d'Art Santa Mònica(55), an art and cultural center pertaining to the Generalitat. To the left is the Palau March(56), a handsome 18th century building, seat of the Department of Culture of the Generalitat and exhibition center. On weekends a handcraft market is held in this area.

Metro: Line 1 (Catalunya) and Line 3 (Catalunya, Drassanes Liceu).

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