Wordtravels

Wordtravels

El Raval

One of two districts bordering La Rambla - the other being the established tourist area of Barri Gotic - El Raval is a compelling and interesting neighbourhood, with a long and chequered history. Located near Barcelona's port, El Raval has always had a multicultural and slightly seedy character, leading to it being dubbed Barri Xinès ('Chinatown') by locals. After struggling with social problems like crime and prostitution through much of the 20th century, in the late-1980s the Barcelona city council began a concerted program of urban rejuvenation in the area, which saw many of its best sites, such as the MACBA Museum and the CCCB Cultural Centre, being constructed. These days, El Raval remains an exciting, multicultural area (nearly half of its population are foreign-born), that is particularly popular with backpackers and revellers keen to check out some of Barcelona's racier bars and clubs. The area is still a little sleazy and tourists should be careful of pickpockets and avoid walking alone at night, but it is lots of fun. El Raval is full of cool bars and funky cafes that beg to be explored, from Bar Marsella with its Art Nouveau interior, to London Bar, a run-down though stately place once frequented by artists like Hemingway, Picasso and Mirò. Another great sight in El Raval is the Palau Guell, one of Gaudi's lesser-known masterpieces, featuring large parabolic gates decorated with beautiful ironwork.