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Barcelona areas - El Raval E-mail

El Raval is a neighbourhood (barrio) in the Cuitat Vella in Barcelona

Ciutat Vella  means “Old City” in Catalan
Ciudad Vieja means “Old City” in Spanish but this term not often used anymore

In English visitors often translate the Cuitat Vella as the “gothic area” which is a fine translation, but actually there are several neighbourhoods in the Cuitat Vella, one of which is called the Gothic Quarter, so it can be confusing.

The best and most accurate translation for all the medieval neighbourhoods of Barcelona is simply the literal translation from Catalan, “the old city."

The Ciutat Vella includes the neighbourhoods of the El Raval,  el Born,  Barrio Gótico &  La Barceloneta

El Raval area of Barcelona

El Raval is Barcelona’s  answer to other world famous bohemian communities like Greenwich Village in New York and Montmartre in Paris.

The Raval is generally considered to be the place to live in Barcelona and Europe if you want to get up close and personal with the meaning of life, especially the bohemian version

• Originally El Raval was an area of markets and gardens outside the city wall of Barcelona. The wall was on the left (south) of what is now La Rambla which used to be a stream outside the old city wall. Later factories and workers tenement blocks started filling up the Raval area, which grew to become one of the most densely populated areas in the world and one of the worst workers ghettos too.

• El Raval in Barcelona is probably the most multicultural neighbourhood in the city, in Spain and probably in all of Europe! We are talking wall-to-wall creative, fun, edgy and artistic activity on all fronts.

• The bottom part of the Raval nearest the port was/is the “worst” area with the most unsavoury characters. This part of El Raval is also sometimes called the Barrio Chino, not because of a large Chinese population but because a journalist in the twenties coined the phrase after seeing a movie about Chinatown in San Francisco.

In actual fact there is a sizeable Moslem community, mostly of Moroccan and Pakistani immigrants and a sizeable Filipino community as well as the original Catalan residents and a growing international community.

• Raval restaurants are neo-hippy, ghetto-trendy and many other variations that turn out some of the tastiest food in town. For residents and visitors there is an incessant supply of yoga schools, art galleries, cultural workshops, boutiques and all frequented by wide smiles imported from every corner of the globe. 
El Raval - Main tourist attractions and sights 
 • MACBA Museum of Contemporary Art designed by American architect Richard Meir. Large open square where youngsters congregate to play football and skateboard.

La Boquiería Market – Largest and most famous fresh meat and produce market in the city. Fringed by tapas bars taking inspiration from the market.

CCCB - Centre for contemporary Culture – Next to the MACBA in an 18th century building. Hosts major art festivals.

- Liceu Theatre – Barcelona’s Opera House

Antic Hospital Sant Creu – Hospital from the 14th century. You can still find several herbal and medicinal shops.

Palau Güell by Antoní Gaudí (currently being restored)
El Raval - Personal opinions from friends who live here    

Positive: Couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in Barcelona but the Raval • The food, live music and people here are simply amazing • It's like the gothic but without the neon and plastic bits • Raval has a great mix of local residents and imports • It can look a bit scary but when you live it you feel safe • you get to know your neighbourhood and realize that the people who look scariest are often the nicest and gentlest ones! • As safe as anywhere in Barcelona if you heed the advice of your “vecinos” (neighbours) and use your common sense • central and still cheaper to drink and eat many places in Barcelona.

Negative: Can be NOISY! • Some areas are a bit shady/dodgy and dirty ....and smelly, but you soon know what to avoid and when.
El Raval - Real estate perspective of buying flats in the Raval
 • As a long term investment there are many great deals. El Raval is probably the only area in the historic centre of Barcelona, where buyers can still find a cheaper square meter price and expect a very good return on their money in a few years time.

• This is a good area for buy-to-let rental apartments in Barcelona, due to its proximity to Las Ramblas and Plaza Cataluña and popularity with young travellers and students. But check with your estate agent in Barcelona for information. The international agents who have many foreign clients looking to buy property in Barcelona generally will only handle apartments in safe streets and areas of La Raval.  But it is always a good idea to visit the neighbourhood where you are thinking of living in Barcelona at night and preferably during the weekend.

• There are still many city plans in the works for a cleaner and better future for El Raval. This means that some buildings have “afectaciones” and are referred to as "afectada."  These properties can be expropriated at lower prices by the city council to make room for local planning changes.

A reputable estate agent in Barcelona will not generally offer apartments in Barcelona with afectaciones and or will inform potential clients of such a status.

• The city of Barcelona has been working hard on what they call “esponjament” (mopping up) to clean up El Raval’s worst areas.  Constant police patrols are helping to combat prostitution, drug dealing and petty theft.

• Signs of gentrification are everywhere in el Raval. Ambitious new projects include a  new 5 star hotel on the Rambla de Raval. Barcelona’s Filmoteca (Cinema Foundation) is currently being built on the Northern side of the Rambla and behind the Boquiería market there will be a new underground parking garage with a new park on top.

• In conclusion if you are thinking of buying or renting apartments in El Raval, this is a very attractive neighbourhood for younger generation, artists, musicians, bohemian, etc and for investing in second homes and holiday homes.

This content kindly provided by Ficasso Real Estate Barcelona