A Short History of La Rambla
Getting to know why La Rambla is the most famous street of Barcelona
La Rambla is arguably the most famous street in Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia in Spain. It runs from the bustling Plaça de Catalunya to the Mediterranean Sea. It has a varied history that goes back several centuries. Originally, La Rambla was built on a dried-up riverbed called the Riera de Sant Josep. This watercourse had separated the city’s old town from the newer district that was expanding towards the sea. In the late 18th century, the city council decided to turn the empty riverbed into a pedestrian boulevard, the street now known as La Rambla. In fact, La Rambla is named after the Arabic word ‘ramla’ which means ‘sandy ground’ since this was the type of terrain the street was built on.
During the 19th century, La Rambla became a hub of activity for the burgeoning city of Barcelona. Many of the city’s most important institutions, such as the Liceu Theater -the Barcelona Opera House-, and the Boqueria Market, were established along the street. Soon, it became a popular meeting place for locals and visitors alike. In the 20th century, La Rambla saw some significant changes as the city underwent rapid expansion. New buildings were constructed and the street became home to many new businesses and shops.
Where famous artists and intellectuals met over the years
The street has also been home to many famous artists and intellectuals over the years, including Joan Miró and Federico García Lorca, who were inspired by its vibrant atmosphere. During the Spanish Civil War, La Rambla saw significant violence, with the street heavily damaged and many buildings being destroyed. The Continental Hotel was collectivized by the Republicans and the Malagarriga Miralbell family, the owner, was forced to abandon it.
In the post-war years, the street was rebuilt and revitalised, regaining its status as a hub of activity for the city. Today, La Rambla remains one of Barcelona’s most important landmarks, a place where Catalan people meet to discuss art and politics or simply to socialise.
Hotel Continental and La Rambla
Of all the hotels on La Rambla, the Hotel Continental is the most significant and, along with the Hotel Oriente, the oldest in the city.
The hotel continues to offer guests a beautiful and comfortable stay in the heart of the city. After different chapters on its history, this 3-star hotel, located at the top of La Rambla, provides easy access to some of the city’s most iconic attractions.
Furthermore, the Hotel Continental has a rich history, having hosted many notable guests over the years, including the famous writer George Orwell and his wife. Orwell stayed at this landmark hotel in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. He wrote about his experiences in his book ‘Homage to Catalonia’. The hotel’s significance in Orwell’s work has made it a popular destination for fans of the writer and his book. The Hotel Continental also played host to Jawaharlal Nehru, the former Prime Minister of India, and his daughter Indira Gandhi. During Orwell’s tenure at the hotel, a young man who would later become the President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, also stayed there for a while.
In spite of its history, the hotel boasts modern amenities and comfort for its guests. The neoclassical splendour of the hotel’s design is complemented by modern touches such as air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. The hotel on Las Ramblas is ideally located, perfect for exploring the city and experiencing all that Barcelona has to offer.
Without forgetting the family character and the hotel tradition in Barcelona of the Malagarriga family, which dates back to 1826. In three years, it will celebrate two centuries of tradition.