La Rambla de Santa Mònica | Barcelona Bus Turístic

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La Rambla de Santa Mònica

The heart of Barcelona in the first half of the 19th century

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From the 17th century to the mid-19th century this section of La Rambla and its adjacent streets lay at the centre of life in Barcelona. It is difficult to find a stretch of road with a greater concentration of history in Barcelona: palaces from the 18th century, convents and monasteries transformed into hotels and art centres, narrow streets, museums, theatres and the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Why visit the bottom section of La Rambla?

La Rambla, also popularly referred to in the plural as Les Rambles due to the various names it has along its 1.2 kilometre length, takes you on a journey through 200 years of Barcelona’s history.

It was originally the course of a stream that marked one of the city limits. The first section of La Rambla, from the Columbus Monument to the Gran Teatre del Liceu, is known as "La Rambla de Santa Mònica" because it was there where in 1636 a monastery was built in honour of Saint Monica by the Order of Discalced Augustinians. It was an austere building in the classical style, whose cloister, the only element that still remains, is its most notable element. The space is now a cultural centre, Arts Santa Mònica, which offers a range of free exhibitions and activities.

A stroll up La Rambla reveals a variety of points of interest. On the right you will find Carrer de Josep Anselm Clavé, which after Plaça del Duc de Medinaceli is called Carrer Ample, one of old Barcelona’s aristocratic streets, home to many of the palaces and houses of Barcelona’s well-to-do families and one of the main arteries of 18th-century Barcelona; the narrow Passatge de la Banca, which leads to the old Banc de Barcelona building, a Neoclassical palace from the 19th century that is now home to Barcelona Wax Museum; Palau March, in the Neoclassical style (1776), currently the site of the Government of Catalonia’s Ministry of Culture; Passatge de Bacardí, a covered passage built in the middle of the 19th century that links La Rambla to Plaça Reial; and Carrer de Ferran, which leads to Plaça de Sant Jaume.

On the other side of La Rambla is the start of Carrer Nou de la Rambla, where you can visit Palau Güell, a key work built by Gaudí from 1886 to 1890 for his patron Eusebi Güell. The palace is on one of the main arteries of El Raval, linking Montjuïc mountain to the city centre.

Other buildings worth visiting at the bottom part of La Rambla are the Teatre Principal (the city’s oldest theatre, which was built in the late 17th century and then rebuilt and refurbished several times until it was closed in 2015), and Hotel Oriente, Barcelona’s first hotel, where you can see the old cloister of the Franciscan monastery over which it was built. As a result of the 1835 Spanish Confiscation, in which the government seized properties from the Catholic Church, it became an inn called Gran Fonda d’Orient, whose acid-etched windows and sgraffito work are still preserved, and in 1931 its name was changed to Hotel Oriente.

Finally, next to Hotel Oriente is the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona’s most emblematic theatre, which was designed by Miquel Garriga i Roca and Josep Oriol Mestres in 1847. After being damaged by fire, the Liceu was rebuilt on two occasions, each time preserving the splendour it enjoyed when it was a popular meeting place for the Catalan bourgeoisie.

 

How do you get to the bottom of La Rambla?

To get to the bottom of the La Rambla you can take the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic and hop off at the Colom–Museu Marítim stop.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? Carrer Nou de la Rambla was the first street in the city to have pavements, sewers and two lanes.
  • Local’s tip: On Carrer de Santa Mònica you can find a gem that harks back to El Raval’s decadent past, Bar Pastís, a bohemian corner with live music that was opened by an exiled Frenchwoman in 1947.
  • A must: For everyone! All visitors to Barcelona should take a stroll along it.