Barcelona areas - El Raval

Barcelona areas - El Raval

Map areas Barcelona

El Raval is a neighbourhood (barrio) in the medieval Cuitat Vella district of Barcelona. Ciutat Vella means 'old city' in the Catalan language. El Raval is the artsy, bohemian, slightly edgy part of Barcelona's old medieval city. El Raval is considered safe during the day, but some parts of the Raval mostly near the port, are a bit disreputable after midnight. On the whole it is a vibrant and authentic area of Barcelona's old city that brings life and colour to Barcelona. 

Many tourist guides translate the Cuitat Vella as the “gothic area,” but actually there are several neighbourhoods within the Cuitat Vella, one of which is El Raval. The Ciutat Vella includes the neighbourhoods of the El Raval, el Born, Barrio Gótico and la Barceloneta. 

El Raval area of Barcelona 

El Raval was originally an area of markets and gardens outside the medieval city wall of Barcelona. The city wall was on the left of what is now the street La Rambla La Rambla was a stream outside the old city wall. The markets, gardens and convents of the Raval later developed into factories and workers tenement blocks which eventually make the Raval one of the most densely populated areas in the world - and one of the worst workers ghettos in the world too. Today however, El Raval is probably the most multicultural neighbourhood in Barcelona attracting creative, fun, edgy and artistic residents and also a few unsavoury characters too.

The lower part of the Raval nearest the port was the notorious part, where one could find the most unsavoury characters in the times when it was known as the "Barrio Chino"  Back then the Raval was where dock workers and sailors went to have a good time and it was knows as the roughest area in Barcelona with a red light district with many brothels and bars. Picasso was known to frequent the Raval brothels in his youth in the early 20th century, when the Picasso family lived in Barcelona. The name Barrio Chino did not originate from any kind of Chinese connections, but the name came from a journalist in the 1920ies, who used the name to describe the area after seeing a movie about San Francisco's Chinatown, and the name stuck.

Today the Raval has wide mix of communities. There is a big Moslem community, mostly of Moroccan and Pakistani origin alongside a Philipino community as well as the Catalans and a growing international community.

Raval restaurants are neo-hippy, ghetto-trendy and many other variations that have a reputation for some of the tastiest food in town.

For residents and visitors there is an plethora of yoga schools, art galleries, cultural workshops, boutiques with influences from every corner of the globe.

El Raval tourist attractions and sights 
El Raval has several attractiona. Modern art lovers will enjoy the MACBA Museum of Contemporary Art designed by American architect Richard Meir. It has a large open square that is also a Barcelona's skateboard central plaze.

Barcelona's most famous food market Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, usually just called 
La Boquería, is just inside the Raval. Culture lovers will also appreciate the CCCB Centre for contemporary Culture which is next to the MACBA in an 18th century building.

The CCCB hosts many major art and cultural festival festivals. And do stop by the Antic Hospital Sant Creu which is an former 14th century hospital and incidently where Barcelona's famous architect Gaudi passed away. You can still find herbal and medicinal shops near the former infirmary.

Near the port there is a gem by Gaudi called the Palau Güell which is a recently restored modernist palace. 

Palau Guell

Events Raval area

Raval has an annual Raval Festa Major neighbourhood festival in July and a cultural festival Festival Raval(s) in November

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Last Updated on Saturday, 14 October 2017 11:46