Good for: pickpockets, hustlers, whoremongers, riots, I <3 Barcelona tshirts
Not good for: good food, chilling, good shopping, quiet
Lonely Planet review for La Rambla
Flanked by narrow traffic lanes and plane trees, the middle of La Rambla is a broad pedestrian boulevard, crowded every day until the wee hours with a cross-section of barcelonins and out-of-towners. Dotted with cafes, restaurants, kiosks and news-stands, and enlivened by buskers, pavement artists, mimes and living statues, La Rambla rarely allows a dull moment.
It takes its name from a seasonal stream (raml in Arabic) that once ran here. From the early Middle Ages, on it was better known as the Cagalell (Stream of Shit) and lay outside the city walls until the 14th century. Monastic buildings were then built and, subsequently, mansions of the well-to-do from the 16th to the early 19th centuries. Unofficially, La Rambla is divided into five sections, which explains why many know it as Las Ramblas.
The initial stretch from Plaça de Catalunya is La Rambla de Canaletes, named after a turn-of-the-20th-century drinking fountain, the water of which supposedly emerges from what were once known as the springs of Canaletes. It used to be said that barcelonins ‘drank the waters of Les Canaletes’. Nowadays, people claim that anyone who drinks from the fountain will return to Barcelona, which is not such a bad prospect. This is the traditional meeting point for happy FC Barcelona fans when they win cups and competitions.
The second stretch, La Rambla dels Estudis (Carrer de la Canuda to Carrer de la Portaferrissa) is also called La Rambla dels Ocells (birds) because of its twittering bird market.