Barcelona tips

Las Ramblas


The different “Ramblas” in Barcelona were named like that because through them it came down water from Collserola mountain, to the sea. They were rather smelly streets, especially in summer because of the water shortage, but mainly because of the lack of sewage in the humble houses of both the Gothic Quarter, Raval, and the now called Eixample (Rambla de Catalunya) and Poblenou, people used to throw waste in them waiting for the water stream to wash them away. This necessary practice was done at anytime, but especially in the early morning and late hour of the day. This generated a habitud in the people of that area to meet, to chat about their things and “fer barri” (“to build neighborhood”).

Once they were supplied with a sewage system, the two sidewalks, the side roads and the central promenade looked as they are now, and so, on Las Ramblas (the well-known ones, those that divided the center of the city in two), there were established stores, Theaters, restaurants, schools and a University, and some flowers and animals kiosks in the central promenade. All Barcelonans from all neighborhoods began to go there. At first it was empty only at night, but like the torrent that flowed in its beginnings, a river of people did not cease to “ramble” day and night, even today: the people of the neighborhood, merchants, workers, bartenders, workers of the Liceu, prostitutes, trade unionists, street artists, tourists, opportunists… “All social classes, races and ethnic groups together in the same street, doing anything and at anytime”, this began to be the definition of the Ramblas.

People began to talk about it as if it were something from our environment: “yesterday there were not so many people”, or “in the higher part is hotter…”, or “these artists are very good…”. As in the Djemaa el Fna square in Marrakesh, the Ramblas of Barcelona took on a life of their own, it became a feast for the senses and people from all over the world came en masse to walk by it to see “what going on, what was happening on Las Ramblas… “.

“Rambling” always was, should be and will be a time to observe, learn, share and live. Let nothing or no one take the “rambling” from us! 

by Ruben Arroyo
“Ruben’s “Don’t be a tourist, be a real Barcelonian” tour guides”