[Urban design] La Rambla in Barcelona, Rambla Catalunya

'La Rambla' is often considered the most famous street in Barcelona and well known around the world, exemplifying Barcelona’s success in having public spaces for people to meet and socialize, as well as walk their daily lives. The street, which is actually broken into several distinct boulevards, is often crowded with both locals and tourists.

The success of La Rambla comes from the combination of factors. Its availability of eateries, shops, markets, and cultural institutions along the artful street create an attractive and diverse experience for pedestrians. The street is full of history and character, dating back hundreds of years. It is also physically well connected to key areas of Barcelona. The buildings, paths, vegetation, and details are proportioned so that pedestrians have pleasant spaces to interact in. Because of its social quality, some would call it the “emotional hub” of the city.

La Rambla is set in Barcelona, Spain. It stretches about 1.5 kilometers long, running through the middle of the city on a former riverbed, and divides the Gothic area from El Raval, a working class district.Its name comes from the Arabic word “ramla,” which means “sandy ground.”

Often touted as the Madison Avenue of Europe but more fun, the street has a center divider with traffic running on either side. The area outside of the divider is lined with shops and restaurants of every type, while the inner part of the divider has tiny market stands - covered by colorful umbrellas - that sell everything from flowers to live canaries and sweet dough churros. Beautiful trees line the walkway and provide shade as you stroll around and there are benches to sit on if you get tired.
In addition to the variety of restaurants, street performers and array of art, one place of note along the corridor is the Gran Teatre del Liceu, or simply Licieu, Barcelona’s renowned opera house.

La Rambla “is a street clearly designed for people to be on, to walk, to meet, to talk,” writes Allan Jacobs, an expert on urban design and former San Francisco city planner, in his book “Great Streets” (1995, MIT Press). “La Rambla ... succeeds so well that it would stand out anywhere.” The buildings provide the street with clear edges, while the large number of windows and building entrances provides a sense of fluidity. Moreover, the street has defined its own program of events by permitting performances by local artists and musicians. This makes its visual and cultural landscape different with every visit.

sourse: Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain - Christy Alexander and Lori Tang