There may be no better place in the country to indulge in the Spanish ritual of the paseo (stroll) than on this wide, pedestrian street that is anything but pedestrian. An orgy of activity day and night, La Rambla is voyeuristic heaven. Spray-painted human statues stand motionless among the passing crowds; buskers croon crowd-pleasing classics; caricaturists deftly sketch faces; bustling stalls create an open-air market of bright bouquets and chattering parakeets; and round-the-clock kiosks sell everything from The Financial Times to adult videos.
The city’s grand opera house founded in 1847, brought Catalan opera stars such as Montserrat Caballé to the world. Twice gutted by fire, it has been fully restored.
Pointing resolutely out to sea, this statue of Christopher Columbus (1888) commemorates his return to Spain after discovering the Americas. An elevator takes visitors to the top for sensational views.
A cacophonous shrine to food, this cavernous market has it all, from stacks of fruit to suckling pigs and writhing lobsters.
Will the real Rambla please stand up? Amid the here-today-gone-tomorrow street performers and tourists, the true Rambla old-timers are the flower and bird stalls that flank the pedestrian walkway. Many of the stalls have been run by the same families for decades.
Ensure your return to the city by drinking from this 19th-century fountain, inscribed with the legend that anyone who drinks from it “will fall in love with Barcelona and always return”.
Splashed on the walkway on La Rambla is a colourful pavement mosaic by Catalan artist Joan Miró. His signature abstract shapes and primary colours unfold at your feet.
Constructed by the viceroy of Peru in 1778 – the name means “Palace of the Viceroy’s Wife” – this Neo-Classical palace hosts a range of temporary exhibitions, from sculpture to photography to video.
Once the hallowed haunt of rosary beads and murmured prayers, this former 17th-century monastery was reborn in the 1980s. Thanks to a massive government-funded facelift, it is now a cutting-edge contemporary art centre. Temporary exhibitions run the gamut from large-scale video installations to sculpture and photography.
Once an umbrella factory, this playful, late 19th-century building is festooned with umbrellas.
A relic from a time when the Catholic Church was rolling in pesetas (and power), this hulking 17th-century church is a seminal reminder of when La Rambla was more religious than risqué.