From Carrer St Pau to Drassanes
Sant Pau to Ronda de Sant Antoni
At the end of the Rambla del Raval one option is to turn right up Sant Pau. On the left the chimney in the middle of the park is a reminder of the area’s industrial heritage. Opposite, a Guardia Civil station also tells of when El Raval was one of the most revolutioanry and downright dangerous districts in Europe. In the 1920s, while other Spanish cities were removing the trigger-happy Civiles from the city centres due to their habit of shooting before asking questions, and replacing thwm with Assault Guards, the Barcelonan garrisons were strengthened. Here, slap-bang in the heart of working class Barcelona, their presence was that of an occupying army. Today, with the takeover by the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police, the Guardia Civil in Barcelona seem frankly to be a footnote.
A few metres on beholds a much more pleasant site, the beautiful Sant Pau del Camp (St Paul of the Fields).
Behind the church is a small urban allotment (hort urbà) for pensioners run by the Council.
Sant Pau to Rambles
Turn left from Rambla del Raval down C/Sant Pau.
You are now moving into the seedier side of El Raval, the red-light district, the area which gained its epitaph as the Barrio Chino (Chinatown) after a local journalist wrote a series of articles in the 1920s comparing it with what at the time was San Fransisco’s infamous district.
The new building on the corner of C/Robadors (Robbers Street) is to be the Catalan Filmoteca. (At the time of writing uncompleted).
On you left at no.21 is Llibreria Millà, a lovely old bookshop specialised in the theatre. It was founded in 1900 by the present owner’s great-grandfather, and reminds us that C/Sant Pau was once on the main thoroughfare connecting Barcelona’s two main areas of entertainment, Les Rambles, and Avinguda Paral.lel, the city’s Broadway with dozens of theatres and music halls, and reputably the longest stretch of street cafés in Europe. When the city fells to Franco in 1939 and selling books in Catalan became a risky affair, the owners built double shelves hiding the books in Catalan. If a trustworthy client came in asking for a play in Catalan, they would slip it out from the secret bookcase. If the buyer seemed dodgy, the books remained hidden.
Nou de la Rambla – from Parallel to Rambles
At the corner of Av/Paral.lel and Nou de la Rambla is xxxx. a great, rest stop, long a classic for hanging and watching life go by.
Now head back into El Raval by way of the decidedly shabby C/Nou de La Rambla. Immediately on your right is the Bagdad porn show, though I believe the specatcle no longer features a donkey. A section of the old wall built by Peter the Ceremonius may be examined inside should you be interested.
Half way down the street on your right is the Bohemian music joint, London Bar.
Just before you get to the Rambles at Nou de la Rambla is the imposing Palau Güell, Guadí’s first job for his patron, Eusebi Güell.
The building opposite, today a plush hotel, was once a large brothel, a cut above the average houses of ill-repute of the port. Picasso sketched a series of erotic drawings here featuring his friends engaged in various acts with prostitutues.
Turn right at Av/Drassannes walking past also on your right Plaça de Jean Genet. At the end take xxx which brings you to the gates of the remarkable Drassanes shipyards, a suitable place to end this tour of El Raval.
Places in El Raval
A sad hole in the wall
Birthplace of Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
Boadas cocktail bar
Can Lluis restaurant
From Carrer St Pau to Drassanes
From Carrer Tallers to Carrer Hospital
La Boqueria market
Old Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau
Rambla del Raval
Sant Pau del Camp
The Raval cat