Las Ramblas is one of the main streets of Barcelona and, often, one of the first landmarks that most visitors identify with the city. This central boulevard, which cuts through the heart of the city centre, is a vibrant and agreeable promenade of approximately 1,3 kilometers, connecting Plaza Catalunya to Port Vell harbor. To the west it borders with El Raval area and east of Las Ramblas you can find the Barri Gòtic.
This lively avenue, mostly reserved to pedestrians, is always full of animation, crowded with tourists and street artists, acting as human statues or drawing your portrait or caricature. Well, it has also lots of pickpockets and you should be aware of your belongings while strolling along the Ramblas. You can also find flower stands and numerous terraces where to eat and drink (I'm partial to a fresh Sangria!), although you may find the prices to be a bit higher.
Although nowadays the tourist shops abound, loved to see the beautiful modernist signs and decorations of older stores. There are also exquisitely decorated buildings, like the Casa Bruno Quadras, once an umbrella shop. This building is an allegory to Orientalism with its balconies and top-floor gallery decorated with Egyptian imagery. In the facade, stand out the reliefs of oriental umbrellas and fans made of cast iron. The ground-floor, where was the shop, is decorated with enameled glass and paintings reproducing Japanese prints. Captivating as everything is, maybe the most extravagant decorative element is a Chinese dragon on the corner of the building that with the umbrella below was used to advertise the shop.
On the opposite side of the street you can find La Boqueria Market, the first of Barcelona's local markets, opened on 1840 and where you can find a selection of fruits, fresh meat, fish and see food (you can also eat it on the place), and a lot of other products. The color and the diversity of products makes it a place to visit. Las Ramblas is also house of several theaters, the most famous being the Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona's opera house.
Las Ramblas ends close to the sea on the square where stands the monument to Columbus. Its possible to take a lift inside the column to the viewing gallery at the top, 60 metres above the ground. This landmark of Las Ramblas, with the statue of Christopher Columbus holding a navigational chart and pointing to the route to America, was built in 1888 for the Universal Exhibition as a tribute to the famous navigator.