La Rambla

“The only street in the world which, I would like never came to an end”, – these words of Spanish writer Garcia Lorca about La Boulevard Rambla also modern Barcelonians for certain could repeat. And skilled tourists note that La Rambla for Barcelona – the same that Arbat for Moscow, Andreevsky descent for Kiev or Deribasovskaya for Odessa. It is the main street of Barcelona, her face, temperament and unique color.

In a carnival way noisy, populous, motley and sounding in every possible way, La Rambla is a Barcelona in all its variety. And to plunge into the charming, playful atmosphere of the capital of Catalonia, it is necessary to walk at first slowly on this boulevard.

On rather small site of a way – and duration of La Boulevard Rambla is a little more than a kilometer – you will be surprised by a combination of the most versatile, and sometimes and incongruous objects. Ancient temples, monasteries, theaters and among them – the museum of the Sensuality known for the piquancy. Great number of street actors, musicians, artists and not less skillful pickpockets. Abundance of small restaurants of Spanish cuisine, small cafes, shops and souvenir shops. Here you will see one of the most large and ancient grocery markets of Europe – La Boqueria market, a huge poultry market and the longest oceanarium in the world.

Also the public having a rest here is also many-sided. If you don’t love city noise and would like to consider all sights of the boulevard without vanity, better to come here in the morning. In the afternoon here tourists usually crowd. And in the evening here it is flown down local and coming youth, football fans, hippie, punks and other picturesque characters from around the world. So everyone will find on La Rambla that slice of Barcelona behind which it arrived here.

Special charm of La Boulevard Rambla is created by “live statues”. These are the street mimes in freakish images and a special make-up who stood in a certain pose like the real statue. They are in many tourist centers, but most of all in Barcelona. Cleopatra and Cheops, the Angel and the Demon, the Japanese Geisha and the Mummy, medieval chimeras, kings and clowns, misters and city odd fellows start “coming to life” and playing the sketches as soon as the passerby throws them a coin. All these characters organically fit into an architectural landscape of ancient quarters, doing the atmosphere of the boulevard at the same time amusing, fantastic and a little mysterious. On all way from the area of Catalonia to Old port will seem to you that continually any improbable adventure can wait for you. Also be ready to that will try to entertain and carry away you all the time, and at the same time and to sell something. Not really cheap, to the word.

From height of bird’s flight of La  Rambla reminds the deep river with magnificent green coast are the ranks of high sprawling plane trees growing on both sides of the boulevard. This symbolical river originates in the heart of Barcelona – the area of Catalonia, and bears the waters to the Mediterranean Sea, dividing Gothic quarter and quarter Raval.

In the ancient time on a place of the boulevard flew the river – Kagalel. Along its course there passed the defensive fortification of Barcelona. In the Middle Ages the river shoaled and dried up. The name “rambla” in modern Spanish is translated as “prospectus”. But it goes back to Arab “ramla” – “the dried-up earth” – as a reminder on the Arab gain of the Iberian Peninsula. At the beginning of the 18th century the bed of the river was filled up, and at the end of the century also the city wall was destroyed. On its place laid the boulevard and from two parties planted trees. Since then La Rambla became a favourite place of walks of residents and visitors.

La Boulevard Rambla consists of five small, but unique streets which are smoothly flowing each other. Therefore often the boulevard is called in plural Las Ramblas – “Prospectuses”.

Starting point of travel on La Rambla, as, however, and the majority of tourist routes of Barcelona, – the area of Catalonia from which streets fan. There come buses from the airport. There is a cash desk where it is possible to buy tickets for excursions and a discount card of Barcelona. From here all main excursion routes begin. At last, here is located the huge nine-floor shopping center.

From the area of Catalonia begins the first street of the boulevard – Kanaletes. It is called so in honor of a famous fountain of the 19th eyelid century in the form of the samovar topped with four lamps. On a legend, everyone, enjoyed waters from the fountain, by all means will fall in love with Barcelona and will return here again. So, at least, it is written on its plate. And since 30th years of the 20th century the fountain Kanaletes became not only a ritual place of tourists, but also a place of gathering of fans of football club “Barcelona”. Those years opposite to the fountain there was a La Rambla newspaper editorial office, and on the special board exposed on the street results of matches registered. Fans crowded there, drawing attention of passersby, and those sorted the next circulation of the newspaper more willingly. And owners of wine cellar around Kanaletes in days of matches dumped the price of alcohol to entice here those who didn’t get on stadium. Since then after each triumph “Barca” comes here wits the numerous crowd of fans and arranges the improvised carnival on the occasion of a victory.

It, of course, gripping show, but the stranger shouldn’t participate in it nevertheless: quite often the holiday of soccer comes to an end with fights and a police station.

Kanaletes gradually passes in Rambla Doctrines. This part of the boulevard in honor of university which was closed by Philip V is called and is transferred to the city of Servera. And now there is a huge poultry market. This site of La Rambla differs in a set of ancient classical mansions. Its most important sight – Church of the Bethlehem Mother of God of the 17th century in Baroque style.

Following further on the boulevard, we get on Rambla Flowers. The name speaks for itself: the street is buried in flowers because of a large number of flowers little shops. And earlier it was called “Rambla Saint Joseph” which was much esteemed at Catalans. Architectural property of this area is the Palace of the Vice-Queen of the 18th century built by request of Peru Vice-King. Here the huge market Boqueria – one more pride of Barcelona was stretched. Its area – more than 6 thousand square meters. It is famous for the improbable range of best quality products. A real paradise for gourmets! It is one of the most large and most ancient markets of Europe. The first mentions of it belong to the 13th century. The main highlight of Boqueria attracting tourists – the well-known Spanish jamon and a set of grades of cheese for every taste. And for memory it is possible to buy spices or sweets here.

Near an entrance to the Boqueria market on the opposite side of La Boulevard Rambla the museum of the Sensuality is located. Here the exhibits reflecting erotic culture of the different countries and eras are presented. Antique sculptures and frescos, the Chinese drawings based on philosophical doctrine about man’s and female energy Yin – Yang, the Indian Kama Sutra, post cards of the 19th century, movies of the 30-50th years of the 20th century, the book, the photo, and also a picture of artists on erotic dreams and imaginations. Among them and works of the well-known Spaniard Pablo Picasso. And many other things.

On Pla Del Os Square comes to an end Rambla Flowers and begins Capuchin Rambla. Pla del Os is decorated with an abstract sidewalk mosaic of the Catalan surrealist Joan Miro.

Among the hotels located on Rambla Capuchins the unusual building in modernist style – Bruno’s house of Quadrasa draws attention. Once there was a shop of umbrellas. From here and its second name – the House of Umbrellas. The facade of the building is decorated with sculptural images of the umbrellas collected in bouquets, and the Chinese dragon.

But the main sight of this part of the boulevard – the well-known opera Gran theater Liseu. Here the greatest voices of the planet sounded. Constructed in the middle of the 19th century on donations of city elite and up to 1994 it was one of the best buildings of Barcelona until the fire destroyed everything, except a facade. After reconstruction on which 5 years left, the first representation took place in 1999. Now it is one of the most capacious opera theaters of Europe.

Rambla Capuchins comes to the end on Plaza Real. The graceful fountain “Three Graces” and lamps of Antonio Gaudi decorate Royal Square. It was the first serious work of future genius of architecture. And main sight the areas – Principal Theater – the oldest theater of Barcelona. Constructed in the 16th century, it still kept the facade.

The last street of the boulevard – Rambla Santa Monica begins with Royal Square. In the 17th century the convent was founded here, and now in this ancient building the Center of Arts is located.

Rambla Santa Monica brings us to the Square Portal de la pau – “The Gates of the world” with which begins the Old port and opens the view of the sea. The area is devoted to discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. After all it returned to Barcelona from the main swimming. As a reminder on this event the huge monument to Columbus 80 meters high serves. Opening of a monument was dated for the World Fair in Barcelona in 1888, nearly 400 years later after the well-known opening. On the elevator located in a monument it is possible to rise by an observation deck, from where from height of 60 meters the wide panorama of the city and port opens.

Relatively recently one more was added to five classical streets of La Boulevard Rambla – Rambla del Mar, or Sea Rambla. It was constructed to the Olympic Games of 1992 and represents the foot bridge to huge shopping center which is located directly on water. But the main miracle of Rambla del Mar – the Aquarium of Barcelona. It is the biggest oceanarium of Europe, and its underwater glass tunnel – the longest in the world: 80 meters! The oceanarium consists of separate aquariums, in each of which it is possible to see the underwater world of one of the seas.

Our travel on La Boulevard Rambla is ended. Perhaps, you wanted to do a way back – from port to the fountain Kanaletes. At least to drink it magic water and to come back to Barcelona again and again.

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Author: Natalia Petrakova
Translation: Albina Akhmedova

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