Squeezed between Via Laietana and Arc de Triomf, lies one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Barcelona- La Ribera. Once the cradle of Barcelona’s sea trade (hence the name – in Catalan “la ribera” stands for “shore”) it was also the district where prosperous Catalan families lived. Stretched along present-day Carrer Montcada are remnants of the neighborhood’s medieval luster – luxurious villas and mansions, which were transformed into hip art galleries and museums (particularly notable of the latter is Museo Picasso). The neighborhood was also popular among craftsmen and artisans – in fact La Ribera’s textile guild was among the most affluent in the city. The streets still carry the names of trades and skills practiced here: Carrer dels Sombrerers for hatters, Carrer de l’Argenteria for silversmiths, Carrer dels Mirallers for glazers.
In 1714, the defeat of the Catalan resistance fighters meant the fall of Barcelona and the end of the War of the Spanish succession – in order to punish rebellious city recently crowned Philip V decreed to build a military citadel on the eastern border leaving once thriving neighborhood in ruins. The memory of those terrifying events lives in El Fossar de les Moreres – a memorial plaza, which borders with the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, and bears a torch of eternal flame in the center.
Fortunately, over the centuries, La Ribera managed to get back on its feet. The guilds might have ceased to exist, but the neighborhood still has no shortage of craftsmen, talented young artists and designers whose stores line the narrow cobble-paved streets. Medieval architecture is at its best here; but so are contemporary art and numerous graffiti. Cafés and restaurants are nothing like tourist traps along La Rambla – here you will find Venezuelan arepas in La Taguara Areperia (Carrer del Rec, 10), Asian flavor and particularly dim sum at Mosquito (Carrer dels Carders, 46), Barcelona’s best and juiciest burgers at Kiosko (Avinguda del Marquès de l’Argentera, 1), and the cheapest yet also the freshest fish and seafood at La Paradeta (Carrer Comercial, 7)! Prices are moderate, portions are generous, but try to save a bit of space in your stomach so you can indulge in fanciful yet heavenly delicious desserts from Bubó (Carrer de les Caputxes, 6) or luscious ice-cream from Gocce Di Latte (Plà del Palau, 4).
The epicenter of nightlife lies on Passeig del Born – where so-called bares de copas (cocktail bars), clubs with music playing all night long are countless. Although, theoretically this is still a part of the Ribera district, a blooming cultural scene centered at Passeig del Born and overlapping adjoining streets led to the area receiving a separate name – El Born. Funnily enough, many refer to the whole district as El Born, even though the latter is only a lower section of La Ribera.
Metro: Jaume I (line 4).