A weekend in…

The many-sided El Raval

On the other side of the al­ways-busy La Ram­bla, en­ter El Raval, the third and last dis­trict of the old town, or Ci­u­tat Vella. Com­pared to the other two neigh­bour­hoods, El Raval wel­comes sig­nif­i­cantly fewer tourists – and that is mostly to do with its ques

- City Guides · Recreation · Travel · College of the Holy Cross


The one build­ing in El Raval that ev­ery tourist knows of is the Mer­cat de Sant Joseph, com­monly re­ferred to as Mer­cat de la Bo­que­ria. This au­then­tic mar­ket is lo­cated on La Ram­bla and is the most at­mo­spheric spot in town to pur­chase fruit, veg­eta­bles, meat, bread or just to sit down at a bar for a tapa and a beer. Even though the huge hall is usu­ally packed with peo­ple, many of its ven­dors strug­gle to sur­vive. As the mar­ket’s cor­ri­dors are mainly filled with tourists who stay in ho­tels, tra­di­tional out­lets like butch­ers and veg­etable par­lours don’t man­age to sell much of their fresh prod­ucts to them. None­the­less, a stroll past the colour­ful stalls is an ab­so­lute must. The mouth­wa­ter­ing smells and de­li­cious-look­ing prod­ucts will sure leave you hun­gry.

La Ram­bla 91. Free en­trance. Open Mon­day to Satur­day, 8am to 8.30pm.


Right out­side of El Raval, in the mod­ern Eix­am­ple, you’ll find the Mer­cat de Sant An­toni. After nine years of restora­tions, this gi­gan­tic mar­ket re­opened in 2018. On the out­side, its brightred metal walls with el­e­gant, yel­low dec­o­ra­tions im­me­di­ately catch the eye. On the in­side, over 53,000 square me­tres of shop­ping plea­sure await you. In ad­di­tion to 52 reg­u­lar mar­ket stalls, it also con­tains 105 cloth­ing shops, 72 book stalls, a su­per­mar­ket and even a fit­ness cen­tre. Look up to dis­cover its beau­ti­ful orange ceil­ing with its light­grey metal skele­ton as well.

Car­rer del Comte d’Urgell 1. Free en­trance. Mon­day to Satur­day, 8am to 8pm (but try to go early in the morn­ing, def­i­nitely not between 2pm and 4pm and you’ll get the best odds of most stalls be­ing up and run­ning).


In 1401, the pro­gres­sive city gov­ern­ment of ‘el Con­sell de Cent’ (the Coun­cil of One Hun­dred) de­cided to build a free hos­pi­tal for the poor, cen­tral­is­ing the ser­vices of six al­readyex­ist­ing hos­pi­tals. They built the Hos­pi­tal de la Santa Creu (the Hos­pi­tal of the Holy Cross) in the cen­tre of the new dis­trict of El Raval. The hos­pi­tal would serve un­til 1926, after which all the pa­tients were trans­ferred to the mod­ernist Hos­pi­tal de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (for more in­for­ma­tion, scroll ahead to page 54). To­day, the build­ing houses the na­tional li­brary of Cat­alo­nia, which you can only visit as part of a group. Ev­ery­one can, how­ever, visit its court­yard for free. Its thick walls, fra­grant orange trees and de­light­ful bal­ance of sun and shade make it a great spot to pass some time with a book or to have a si­esta. The gar­den is also con­sid­ered the bor­der between the so-called up­per and lower Raval. When you en­ter on one side and leave on the other, it is hard to be­lieve that you are still in the same neigh­bour­hood.

Car­rer de l’Hos­pi­tal 56. Free ad­mis­sion to the gar­den all day. Groups can book a guided visit to the li­brary for €25 for groups of up to 25 peo­ple. Both groups and in­di­vid­u­als can en­ter for free on 23 April.

 ??  ?? Mer­cat de la Bo­que­ria.
Mer­cat de la Bo­que­ria.
 ??  ?? Mer­cat de la Bo­que­ria.
Mer­cat de la Bo­que­ria.
 ??  ?? Mer­cat de Sant An­toni.
Mer­cat de Sant An­toni. Shut­ter­stock

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