Where to go in Barcelona: El Raval

El Raval

Credit: W. Commons

Between La Rambla, the Ronda de Sant Antoni and Parallel you can find El Raval, where numerous buildings have been demolished to create urban spaces and new housing in the latest trendy zone. The visitor can find, close to Career dels Angels, the most specific symbol of this neighborhood´s transformation: The Museu d´Art Contemporary de Barcelona (MACBA), It has some fine abstract works and good temporary exhibitions. MACBA is worth visiting for its architecture and the multicultural buzz in its square: skateboarders, art lovers and locals all congregate there. 

Next door is the ever-simulating Centre de Cultura Contemporánia de Barcelona (CCCB) a striking renovation of an old poor house, the Casa de Caritat. In this exciting space dance, music, film and other activities explore the urban experience.

The visitor should retrace his steps to Carrer del Carme and the Gothic complex of the Antic Hospital de Santa Creu, a hospital and refuge for pilgrims for a thousand years.

Do you know… Gaudí died in 1926 at Hospital de Santa Creu after has been suffered a tram accident.

The present structures were begun in 1401. Look for the frieze of the 16th century tiles on the life of St Paul in the entryway of the Insitut d´Estudis Catalans. The courtyard is restful, with benches under orange trees ripe with fruit or fragrant with blossom. The Massana Art School and the Library of Catalonia are both housed here.

Urban Regeneration
Credit: W. Commons

Carrer Hospital is a busy commercial street catering primarily to Arab and Asian families living in the area. On and around it are some trendy little shops and restaurants, although the narrows alleys are best avoided. Check out Rieva Baixa for vintage shops, and the recently created Rambla del Raval. Old housing was demolished to make way for it, and new blocks and a towering 5 star hotel are all part of the urban regeneration process that is attracting a bohemian crowd.

Around the corner is a Romanesque gem, the little church of San Pau del Camp. The simplicity. of its 12th century lines is an agreeable change from the extravagance of Barcelona´s modernism and the intricacies of Gothic architecture. It is believed to be the oldest church in the city. The lovely little cloister has curious Arab style arches.

Sources | Dave Meler

Bibliography | Barcelona Pocket guide

Images | W. Commons

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