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La Rambla: 10 historical facts

Las ramblas: 10 hitos históricos

La Rambla: 10 historical facts

La Rambla is today one of the most popular and tourist streets in Barcelona. Located right in the centre of the city, it is a hub of history, culture, shops and, in short, a multicultural mix.

Do you want to know the cultural and social spirit of Las Rambla? We invite you to know the main facts that shaped the history of the street where Hotel Arc La Rambla is located.

The origins of La Rambla

The Romans founded Barcino (today’s Barcelona) in 20 A.D. At that time there were two streams (also known as ramblas) where the water ran down the street towards the sea. One of them was in the current Via Laietana and the other to the left of Collserola, close to the current La Rambla.

The Pest and the Wall of Barcelona 

The second wall of Barcelona was built in the 13th century, but La Rambla was left outside. Also, at this time the Black Death (or Pest) reached the city, affecting a significant part of the population of Barcelona who were forced to take refuge in La Rambla, which became the main sewer to the sea. In the 14th century the walled enclosure was extended to include La Rambla, the natural course of the stream was altered and in the 15th century La Rambla was created in the place where we know it today. 

The origin of the University of Barcelona

The University of Barcelona is one of the oldest in the world and its first building, known as Estudis Generals, was located at the beginning of La Rambla, between Santa Anna and Tallers streets, in front of the current Canaletes fountain.

Popular market and promenade 

During the 15th and 16th centuries, La Rambla was a large place where there were held popular markets, as well as sales of seasonal products and animals. It was also a promenade during this glorious stage of the city.

Mercado de La Boquería - Hotel Arc La Rambla

La Rambla of the convents

The religious orders of the Capuchins, Jesuits and Carmelites placed their convents in La Rambla. The convent of Sant Josep was in the place where the current market of La Boquería is located.

The anticlerical revolts of the 19th century destroyed churches and convents, leaving the façade of the church of Nuestra Señora de Belén and the church of Santa Mónica standing at the end of La Rambla.

Rambla de Santa Monica - Hotel Arc La Rambla

Palau de la Virreina 

In 1776 the viceroy of Peru ordered the construction of a palace on La Rambla that would become popularly known as the Palau de la Virreina in honor of his wife. At present this building is visited free of charge and is home to interesting exhibitions of all kinds.

Barcelona’s first tramway 

Barcelona’s first tramway was inaugurated in 1872. It covered the route from La Boquería to the Gràcia neighbourhood, and this first means of transport was animal-drawn, so four horses were needed for it to work!

Monument to Colón

On the occasion of the 1888 Universal Exposition, a large monument was built in honour of Christopher Columbus, on the coastline of La Rambla. This landmark is as high as 60 meters and is a viewpoint with spectacular views of Barcelona.  

Mosaic of Miró and La Rambla de les Flors 

In the middle of La Rambla there is a large mosaic made and donated by the painter Joan Miró. The artist wanted this work to welcome the visitor to La Rambla. 

During the 19th and 20th centuries La Rambla was a meeting place for artists, writers and intellectuals from all over the world. In the Café de la Ópera, a café opposite the Teatre del Liceu, there were political and cultural discussions during the turbulent 1920s. 

Hans Christian Andersen, Federico García Lorca or Antoni Gaudí participated in them and in Las Ramblas Gaudí built his first work: the Palau Güell.

La Rambla: the most visited place by tourists

La Rambla was the most visited place in Barcelona in 2018, according to a report by the “Observatori del Turisme a Barcelona” (Barcelona Tourism Observatory). 75% of tourists do not leave the city without visiting La Rambla. 

What more do you need to know about this corner of the Mediterranean? At Hotel Arc La Rambla we have a place for you in the heart of La Rambla. Contact us and we will inform you.