While the history and beauty of Barcelona cannot be denied, the heart and soul of the city is the winding avenue known simply as Las Ramblas. Actually made up of several individual neighborhood avenues, the esplanade of this long avenue is a melting pot of street performers, living statues, street vendors, impromptu musical performances and what seems, at times, like the entire population of the city.
At the end of Las Ramblas farthest from the port is the large square known as Placa Catalunya (located beyond spot #268 of our Discovery Walk in Barcelona). In this wide open area you’ll find fountains and statues and even the rare sight of some large grassy areas in the middle of what can seem like a city of concrete. And while Las Ramblas enters the square from the south it’s the street exiting the square to the north that captivates me.
This wide and opulent avenue is known as the Passeig de Gràcia and it’s a must-see for any serious shopper or people-watcher. If you’re thinking of buying or renting property here you should know that Passeig de Gràcia is the most expensive street not just in Barcelona but in all of Spain. But here determined shoppers will find all of the names they’re looking for – including Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Armani, Cartier, Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, Hermes………well, you get my point.
This marvelous avenue can be just as big a thrill for fans of architecture, with some of the most beautiful examples of design from the early 1900s. Even two of the great architect Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces are here – La Pedrera that was built at No. 92 as an apartment building in 1905 but is now a museum and Casa Batllo at No. 43 that was originally built for a wealthy Barcelona aristocrat.
And of course there are scores of wonderful restaurants along the way as well. But the real joy of Passeig de Gràcia is that’s it’s a perfect opportunity for a leisurely stroll among some of Barcelona’s well-heeled citizens to enjoy the ambiance and beauty of one of Europe’s premier avenues.
To download A Discovery Walk in Barcelona or any of our other 17 self-guided walks to your own iPod or other MP3 player go to www.discovery-walk.com.