Raval – the neighborhood of contrasts where old architecture stands next to groovy bars, youth hubs as well as illegal trade and crime.
Art i Sa
Art i Sa is a perfect breakfast spot located on Plaça Reial square in the Gothic Quarter. Before a long stroll, treat yourself to any dessert you like, from ice cream (which is to die for) to crepes, muffins and cakes. Here you can also buy a gastronomic souvenier for your loved ones produced under the same brand name.
ice cream: from €2.80
coffee: from €1.40
cakes: from €2.30
Museu Marítim de Barcelona
The maritime heritage of Catalonia is displayed on board the royal galley located inside the building built in 1283 and renovated in 1985. The museum can boast of Gothic shipyards collection and a large amount of items giving insight to the history and development of ship-building from a simple fishing boat to royal sailing boats and medieval vessels.
After visiting the exhibition you can enjoy a Great Sea Adventure Audio-Visual Show and experience storm in the Caribbean, cross the ocean on Queen Victoria board and submerge on board the submarine invented by Monturiol.
Sant Pau Del Camp Church
Back in the Middle Ages, El Raval was just part of a big field where small churches and monasteries stood. One of its oldest constructions is Saint Paul’s Church, which dates back to the 4th century. It is a perfect example of a Romanesque monastery with gothic elements. You don’t have to go inside – just admire its façade with ancient symbolic decorations that looks like a medieval oasis among squeezed between characterless houses.
The Eight-Ton Cat
At the very beginning of Rambla de Raval, you'll see a giant eight-ton statue of a cat with a pleasant smile. This cat is called Botero or Ravaleando, the latter being a derivation from the name of the district. Botero Cat is one of the iconic strongly-built, huge sculptures by Fernando Botero, placed all over the world. This copper cat of the size of a small house was the artist's gift to the city. While his sculptures receive mixed response from people around the world, Barcelonians definitely enjoyed this piece of art.
El Raval district is famous for its unusual shopping opportunities. Go for vintage items at reasonable prices, as well as second-hand clothes and military style things on Carrer de la Riera Baixa street. It's a real 'museum of lost things'. This is also the place to borrow clothes for photo shoots and buy authentic designer items stolen by local prostitutes from their rich clients.
Small square-shaped barfi cakes are perhaps the only sweet you will not find anywhere else in the city, except for this little pastry shop called Ayub. Before lunch, try this little cube of halva – and you won’t overeat.
St Augustine Church
The ancient St. Augustine church is situated in Placa de Sant Agusti, which you can find by following L’Hospital street.
This huge unfinished church was designed for the Raval district poor people who ravaged it each time new building materials came in. Despite the sad story, the interior astonishes with baroque architecture and its sheer size, while outside each weekend there is a small local market.
Shopping on Carrer Doctor Dou
Take a stroll along this hip street of the 'new Raval' quarter. This is the place to buy small souveniers and interior items. If you're into trendy clothes made by local designers, head to Aleluya Store or Mariam Ponsa. In the 19th century, it used to be a bohemian neighbourhood inhabited by artists and poets, that's why the streets differ from others in Raval - the buildings are more grandiose and the apartments are pricier.
MACBA Museum of Contemporary Art
This museum is everything but boring as its displays impressive both in terms of themes and scale exhibits – its halls can at the same time accommodate a huge video installation of a tree and a four-meter bench for visitors to rest. The place welcomes creations of contemporary artists or sculptors and hosts modern exhibitions, concerts and video shows. The museum’s architecture is luring for design lovers and curious passers-by while its veranda is a perfect find for city-watchers.
The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (or CCCB) hosts various exhibitions, concerts, festivals and movie screenings, but it's the museum's glass building we've come here for. Constructed in 1957 by architects Helio Piñón and Albert Viaplana, it features a great viewpoint called Mirador – the entrance fee is just €5. However, we suggest that you stand in the middle of the square adjacent to the museum and look up at the upper mirror part of the building which reflects the sea. CCCB also has a bookstore, a library and an art cafe - the entrance is free.
Los Toreros and Granja М Viader
While Los Toreros is a place with the best tapas, Granja M Viader, Barcelona's oldest café, is one where you can taste the best hot chocolate in the city which, as you know, was brought to Spain from South America for the first time. The menu of the café offers only desserts, and on the counters, you can find dessert cheese, biscuits and famous Spanish cacao Cacaolat, the gem of the Spanish chocolate production.