La Ribera Walking Tour (Self Guided), Barcelona

La Ribera is a culturally rich, historic area of old town Barcelona. Centuries ago, it was a very well-to-do neighborhood and was inhabited by aristocrats, merchants, wealthy sailors, and Jewish money-lenders. Today, it is regarded as the Soho of Barcelona and offers trendy shops and cafes, a popular hangout place for tourists and locals alike. Follow this guide and explore the unique sights of La Ribera.
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La Ribera Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: La Ribera Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Barcelona (See other walking tours in Barcelona)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: clare
Parc de la Ciutadella

1) Parc de la Ciutadella (must see)

This beautiful park in Ciutat Vella, the no. 1 district of Barcelona, has been in place since the mid 19th century. The name Ciutat Vella translates from Catalan as the "old city". There was a time when this park was the only patch of greenery in Barcelona - boasting both seasonal and annual plants - and, as such, enjoyed much popularity with the locals (and it still does, actually).

The park covers an area of 70 acres and incorporates a lake and a fairly large zoo, accommodating over 7,000 animals. Among them, once, there was a world-famous attraction, “Snowflake” - the albino male gorilla, who used to live here until his death in 2003. Another prominent sight within the park is the humongous Cascada fountain designed, back in the 1880s, by Josep Fontsere assisted by the then student of architecture Antoni Gaudi. Apart from that, the park is also home to the parliament of Catalonia.

Locals and tourists alike, enjoy spending time here, and especially those with kids. The park is well equipped for picnics and public holidays, plus caters for sports, such as jogging, cycling and boating. Boats and bicycles are available for hire here at a small price. The park itself is free to enter and is well worth a visit no matter how long you stay in Barcelona!

Why You Should Visit:
Escape and relax without leaving the city centre!
Castrense Parish Church

2) Castrense Parish Church

Castrense Parish Church is located inside the Ciudadela park and is registered as a Cultural Asset of Local Interest. The church is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception , patron of the Infantry, and dates back to 1720. Built in a Neo-classical style with a French inspiration it has a single nave with chapels on its sides. Formerly it was a part of the fortification of the citadel. In the nineteenth century, with the Universal Exhibition in Barcelona and the Citadel converted into a public garden, the church underwent some modifications, with further restoration carried out in 1928.
Justice Palace

3) Justice Palace

Justice Palace (or "Palau de Justícia" in Spanish) was designed by the Catalan Spanish architect Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia. Although not as famous Antoni Gaudi, Villavecchia designed many buildings that have become well known landmarks today. His style was very versatile and comprised elements of the Neo-Baroque, Neo-Gothic and Modernista styles. Villavecchia was able to modify his style and design to accommodate the type of structure he was architecting. In Barcelona he has also designed the Caxia de Pensions building and the New Customs House, as well as the church located on the Tibidabo.

The Justicia Palace was originally constructed to house the court of law, and featured neo-gothic style. The entrance has a highly decorated archway with engravings done around the arch. The structure was completed in 1888 and until 1910 had served its purpose as the house of law in Barcelona.
Arc de Triomf

4) Arc de Triomf (must see)

Located at the inland end of Park de la Ciutadella, this imposing brick structure was meant to announce the architectural marvels found in the park itself. It was built for the Universal Exposition held in 1888, where it served as its main access gate, and is still impressive even from a distance.

The decoration consists of four monumental friezes: on the main face, depicted as a woman, Barcelona can be seen welcoming the nations to the Exposition while on the opposite side, she gives out awards to participants at the festival. The friezes along the sides include allegories of Agriculture and Industry, and of Trade and Art, respectively.

Done up in the Mudejar style, which has its origins in the distinctive Moorish architecture, the arch is colorful and quite unique overall, standing out from other similar arches like the famous one in Paris. The detail is just spectacular and the palm-fringed road running through it complements it in a beautiful way. Not only are the palms here some of the most attractive of the many species growing in the city, but they also bring a nice sway of fresh air.

While the public has no roof access, visitors can still enjoy great photo opportunities and watch the locals doing their thing: whether jogging, roller-blading, having picnics or a coffee break.

Also look out for the many cafe options around the El Born area, and don't forget to try the Spanish cakes and other delicacies in the bakery shops nearby.
Church of Sant Pere de les Puelles

5) Church of Sant Pere de les Puelles

Sant Pere de les Puelles is a Benedictine monastery in the La Ribera neighborhood of Barcelona. The Romanesque/Gothic style building was completed in 945 AD and became the first convent of Benedictine nuns in Barcelona.

At the end of the 10th century, the community was composed of a dozen nons. In the following century, the number rose to 20, most of them daughters of nobles of the time. The powerful religious families were responsible to financially support the monastery.

The monastery suffered a fire in 1909 after which it was rebuilt. A new fire ravaged the building during the Spanish Civil War in 1939. Only one of the original bell towers is still standing today - it still looks awesome and makes for some great photo opportunities. With its imposing structure and a location outside of the beaten path, Sant Pere de les Puelles is one of the most charming spots in the old Barcelona neighborhood.
Santa Caterina Market

6) Santa Caterina Market

An easy walking distance from the Barcelona Cathedral, Mercat de Santa Caterina has been dramatically overhauled in 2005 to become a stylish market with a designer edge, sporting a colorful roof with an inviting facade and offering a clean relaxing experience all around.

There are plenty of places in and around the market that will cook some great dishes with the freshest ingredients possible. Make sure you stop at Bar Joan's for a couple of drinks and probably the best tapas available – very economically-priced, too, because it's there for the locals.

If you're looking for a well-mixed plate of vegetables, try La Torna at the back of the market, who also serves some of the most marvelous cod (bacallá) with spinach, pine nuts and raisins, topped with allioli – everything grilled right before your eyes.

Another definite must is the Cuines Santa Caterina, a remarkably elegant – yet still casual – large modern space that serves the best of "fusion food" – from breakfast meals to typical tapas, vegetarian selections to numerous types of sushi and Asian sensations to Mediterranean favorites.

Obviously, you can also choose from a variety of products to cook a meal yourself – from fresh vegetables, seafood and meats to olives and olive oil, spices and more. The food here is cheaper than in the La Boqueria Market, but vendors not minding your interest even if you don't buy anything!

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed, Sat: 7:30am–3:30pm; Tue, Thu, Fri: 7:30am–8:30pm
Picasso Museum

7) Picasso Museum (must see)

The ultimate place to observe early Picasso is the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Opened in 1961, this museum showcases over 4,300 works of the great master at his early stage, reflecting the intimacy of his relationship with Barcelona, the city that shaped his personality and largely influenced his art.

Picasso always wanted to “imprint himself” through artwork in the tapestry of Barcelona. That wish fortunately materialized, courtesy of his colleagues and friends, particularly Jaime Sabartés, adorning the city with the works of one of the greatest artists ever lived.

Although most of the pieces presented here are Picasso's first attempts at art, the overall collection looks quite impressive. It spans the period from 1917 and includes one of Picasso's best-known series, Las Meninas. In 2008, the museum put on display a large collection of Picasso’s prints.

If you take interest in Picasso's work and want to see his progression from a very young age to adulthood, manifested in paintings, sculpture, ceramics and other forms, do visit this museum.

And if you do visit, make sure to explore the museum shop as some of the items offered are quite interesting and not available anywhere else.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 10am-5pm; Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 9am-8:30pm; Thu: 9am-9:30pm (Mar 16–Oct 31);
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 9am-7pm; Thu: 9am-9:30pm (Nov 1–Dec31)
Chocolate Museum (Museu de la Xocolata)

8) Chocolate Museum (Museu de la Xocolata)

The Chocolate Museum, as the name implies, is home to the history associated with chocolate in Europe. The museum explains the origin of chocolate, its myth and facts, and its use in food, drinks and medicine. One can witness the complete process of chocolate-making from a cocoa bean to the final packaging.

Exhibits of impressive chocolate sculptures, informative panels that detail the history of chocolate, as well as the machines used to make chocolate, are all here to be seen. The ticket itself is a cute, small bar of dark chocolate. If you register beforehand, there are also some small hands-on workshops, which look fun, especially for children (apparently, they are free as long as you sign up).

One can buy tasty chocolates at the museum shop and the small café at the exit is where you definitely have to order a hot chocolate or a "mocha", which is that same hot chocolate mixed with an equal quantity of espresso. Both are to die for!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am–8pm; Sundays and Holidays*: 10am–3pm (Jun 15–Sep 15)
Mon-Sat: 10am–7pm; Sundays and Holidays*: 10am–3pm (Sep 16–Jun 14)
* May 1, Jun 24, Aug 15, Sep 11/24, Oct 12, Nov 1, Dec 6/8

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Picasso's Barcelona

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km

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