El Raval, Barcelona Travel Guide
El Raval Summary
- A lively nightlife scene, with numerous bars and international restaurants
- Rich in history, with many beautiful historic buildings
- Home to the city's most famous market
- Bordered by El Rambla, an iconic street lined by vendors and street performers, and Placa de Catalunya, the city center square
- Several museums, including a modern art museum and a maritime museum
- Some areas are still seedy, with blatant prostitution and petty crime
- Not many hotels in the area
What It's Like
A neighborhood in Ciutat Vella, Barcelona's historic district, El Raval has slowly been shedding its seedy reputation. Originally an area of ill repute (Picasso was known to frequent the neighborhood's brothels in the early 1900s), El Raval is still known in part for its high petty crime rates and blatant prostitution. But within the last couple of decades, the neighborhood has seen a change. Not only have some dilapidated buildings been replaced by trendy apartments, but the building of the Modern Art Museum of Barcelona has brought a fresh, new vibe to the history-rich neighborhood; the Maritime Museum houses relics from the medieval city and the historic hospital, now a library, is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture.
The neighborhood is also home to La Boquiera, the most famous market in Barcelona. Although the neigborhood does not have many visitors who stay overnight, El Raval is teeming with tourists at all hours; numerous cafes line Rambla del Raval and the area is known for its lively nightlife and international restaurants.
Where to Stay
El Raval does not have a ton of hotels to offer. But many of the hotels that are in the neighborhood are new and trendy, reflecting the ongoing gentrification process. Those visiting students at the University of Barcelona and those who want to be near the center of the city may consider staying in the northwestern area of El Raval, where the neighborhood is bordered by Placa de Catalunya, a busy public square. To the northeast, El Raval is bordered by La Rambla, one of the most iconic streets in Barcelona, with vendors, street performers, and tourists vying for space. Although the neighborhood is considerably safer than it was 30 years ago, most visitors may want to avoid the southwestern areas of El Raval near the shipyards, where the gentrification process has not progressed as far as it has in other areas.