El Raval

The neighbourhoof of el Raval was “land of convents” – how locals used to call it – until the beginning of the eighteenth century, when numerous factories were built. During the twentieth century and after being left out by the council, the neighbourhood was refurbished and started recovering it’s initial charm.

Probably the most emblematic building of el Raval is the Palau Güell (c/ nou de la rambla,5), part of UNESCO World Heritage of “Works of Gaudí”. Built by Antoni Gaudí for the Güell family (also owners of the popular Park Güell) was bought by the catalan government in 1954 and restored. The chimneys are made of ceramic, the flat roof and the entrance with its handmade iron door are stunningly beautiful and clearly show the style of catalan modernism. The building is visitable for 10€ an adult. More information can be found here.

At the end of the street Nou de la Rambla there’s the Rambla del Raval. This avenue is the centre of the neighbourhood and is always full of people, street musicians and terraced bars. It is a good place to eat, have a coffee or just enjoy the walk and the decorative sculptures along the avenue.

The Hospital de la Santa Creu is one of the most amazing buildings in Barcelona in need of promotion. This bulding, now the National Library, used to be a hospital run by nuns: Antoni Gaudí died here in 1926 after being run over by a tram. The building was designed following a gothic style and has a fantastic reading room with a high ceiling and is full of arches. In front of the Hospital, there is a baroque building made in 1629 with a typical baroque hallway and nice paintings. Outside, where the two buildings meet, there is a beautiful garden with orange trees and a cafeteria for those who enjoy relaxing with a coffee. Information about opening times and guided tours can be found here.

      

The clearest example of how el Raval has been modernized and opened to thetourists is the MACBA, the Contemporary Art Museum of Catalunya, designed by the north american architect Richard Meier. The building has adapted perfectly to the area with an amazing use of light and a curious layout that gives a feeling of space and free movement. In September 2006 the museum was expanded with the acquisition of the church of an old convent next to the main building called Convent dels Angels, made following the gothic style. The museum regularly hosts art and photography expositions such as the World Press. More information about the museum can be found here.

         

Along with the MACBA, Carrer Tallers is one of the most famous places around el Raval and Barcelona. This small and dark street – really quiet despite being next to the Ramblas – has beautiful buildings that have been converted into music or second hand shops. It’s a must see for everyone that likes vinage shopping. At the end it has a beautiful square with numerous bars an restaurants were to chill and enjoy the atmosphere, it’s always full of young people!

[Pictures credit Raquel Gella except: Palau Güell via Suite Life BCN Blog; MACBA via Tim Ershot]

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