The word Born etymologically means tournament , La Ribera means near the Sea. This was the place where medieval tournaments were made and many festivals and popular processions were held, between the XIII and XVII centuries.
Historically it was an old district of merchants, marines and fishermen, artisans, and labor unions , during the powerful medieval times that lived Barcelona.
So many of the names of its streets still remind those old trades , streets such as dels Sombrerers ( hatters ) dels Mirallers ( glaziers ) or dels Argenters ( silversmiths ) .
The whole quarter took its current shape around the ancient church of Santa Maria de les Arenes , which are the origins of the present Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar.
Nowadays is a very pintoresc and beautiful quarter, wich retains the atmosphere iand the legacy of its history, but has also become the quintessential neighborhood for design , fashion and the latest trends.
It is recently also being the place chosen by many artists to install their workshops, as also did the young Pablo Picasso in the begining of the XX Century. We could say that it is the bohemian quarter of the city, the Montmartre of Barcelona.
La Ribera Tour
Our tour starts at the beginning of the main Avenue, Via Laietana with the Square Plaça Urquinaona , the street connects Plaça Urquinaona with the Port of Barcelona.
This modern avenue did not exist formerly , is in fact dating to the mid-nineteenth century, when it was decided to open a road that will connect the new modernist Eixample District with the Sea and Harbor.
That was how the Downtown (Gothic Quarter) and the Barrio de La Ribera were divided, literaly by Via Laietana Street. Notably, many of the buildings that were is this area were moved stone by stone to new solars and places, so there were moved in order to preserve them.
Well, we started our route on that interesting Avenue, Via Laietana always from Plaça Urquinaona, all the way downn towards the Sea.
Palau de La Música
From Via Laietana turn the second Street to the left , go down the street Ramon Mas, at the corner of Calle Sant Pere Mes Alt.
Right there there is a very impressive building, a modernist gem named Palau de la Música Catalana (Catalan Music Palace).
The Palau de la Música is one of the famous works of the Catalan architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner , one of the leading exponents of Modern Art in Barcelona.
Its facade is a real compliment to the decorative arts,.with several floral decorations , red brick walls, amazing sculptures, wrought iron, glaas and colorful ceramic pieces will transport you to that spectacular explosion of modern art that can only be found in Barcelona.
Visit our section of the Palau de la Música for further details of this building.
Sant Pere de les Puel·les
After visiting the Palau follow the street Pere Mes Alt where you are until the very end of it, you will see there the Church of Sant Pere de les Puel · les, at the Plaça de Sant Pere Square.
The temple was part of an ancient Benedictine Monastery, unfortunatey, only the church remains today. The community of nuns who lived suffered the confiscation of their land in 1835 ( public law to sale church property ) , and at that time the monastery became a prison .
The original nuns moved to a new location in the neighborhood of Sarria , where still reside nowadays.
In the XIX Century the Church suffered a major fire , after which it was rebuilt . Unfortunately it struck another fire during the Spanish Civil War, with the consequent architectural and artistic loss.
Despite these circumstances , visit the is church really worthly, as it retains interesting Romanesque and Gothic elements and decorations.
From the square go now down to the street Sant Pere Mes Baix , and from there turn to the left to reach the Street Rec Comtal .This street takes you to the Portal Nou.
This was one of the Gateways of the ancient medieval Walls of Barcelona. It was therefore back on Middle Ages, a place of execution , where many men were hanged.
Mercat de Santa Caterina
Follow the Portal Nou St. to Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell. Here in that Square there was a Dominican convent , which was replaced in the mid- nineteenth Century by the current market, the Mercat de Santa Caterina .
This market was remodeled in the early twentieth century by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, becoming an amazing and colorful artwork.
In addition to restoring the building , placed a striking undulating roof representing an impressive explosion of life and color.
Between the market and the street Via Laietana you will fins carrer dels Mercaders, which houses mansions and palaces dating to the XV Century, where wealthy merchants on Middle Ages hence its name , Mercaders (so Merchants) lived there.
If you approach the back of the market , you will see what remains of the old Convent de Sant Agustí , now occupied by the Military Academy. The most interesting part is the cloiste , originally built in the fourteenth century.
In this building you will find the Chocolate Museum , where there are spectacular pieces, real artworks made of chocolate, even reproducing artistic monuments of Barcelona such as the famous Sagrada Familia of Gaudí.
Capella d'en Marcús
From the Plaça de Sant Agustí Vell begins Carders Street , another one of those streets that still retains the name of an ancient medieval trade. Follow it to the end of the street, so you will see the Capella Marcús .
This Chapel is one of the oldest in Barcelona, and one of the few intact examples of Romanesque Art Style in the city, built in the XII Century.
His benefactor was the banker Mr. Bernat Marcús, who made significant donations for the construction of a hospital and the chapel. The function of this hospital was to welcome visitors to the city when the gateways of the city wall were closed, unfortunately is not preserved today.
After visiting the chapel, returns to Via Laietana and make your way downward , facing the sea. Continue through the street Carders until Montcada street , here you will find several points of interest.
Medieval Palaces at Carrer Montcada
The street is named after one of the richest and most influential families in Barcelona : The Montcada family.
This was a very rich and influent family, who received this land in Barcelona in the XIII Century by the Catalan Counts , for their support in the conquest of the city of Tortosa, until then in Arab hands .
They and other noble families and merchants of Barcelona, mainly enriched by maritime trade activities , built their lavish mansions on this street. You will see all these Gothic Palaces all along the Streeet.
All of them are structured in the same way: they have a central courtyard , from which the main floor is accessed through a luxurious staircase. These ancient medieval residences have been converted today in major museums . The street is therefore an important artistic center because of the amount of art galleries and museums.
As a perfecte example and proof of it there are the Palau Aguilar, Mecca or the Baró de Castellet , all of them home of the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. If you want to visit the museum visit the section.
You'll also find Renaissance palaces all over the Montcada Street, such as Palau Cervello or even Baroque Palaces such as Dalmases Palace . Most of them now occupy important museums .
So you can visit today the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art at the Palau Nadal, the Textile Museum in Palau del Marques de Llió or the Maeght Gallery in the Palau Cervello .
The Maeght Gallery is an art gallery dedicated to contemporary art. Named after one of the great collectors and promoters of art of the twentieth century , and even today the museum is run by a son of the Maeght family.
Among his works , names like Braque , Chagall , Miro, Antoni Tapies , Giacometti , Calder or Chillida ... a truly impressive in terms of quality , great artists of the past century are forming part of the collection.
Passeig del Born
Go along Montcada street, and keep walking till the end of it to see the wellknown Passeig del Born (promenade), a pedestrian street where you will find many shops and bars in which you can sit down for a while to take a break .
This was the place where was situated the old square, where tournaments in medieval Barcelona were held. Today there are several shops , restaurants , and bars and stone benches to enjoy a pancake or an ice cream.
Santa María del Mar
When you have recovered yourself, make your way to the end of the ride, you'll find the impressive church of Santa Maria del Mar.
Santa Maria del Mar is definitely a must , as it is one of the most significant and most beautiful Gothic churches Barcelona .Its construction was carried out by Berenguer de Montagut . It began in 1329, and was finished in just over 50 years later.
In its interior are beautiful slenderness and decorative sobriety, so characteristic of Catalan Gothic. Notice the vaults, and the magnificent dome keys its covers. Definitely will impress and see why it is known as the Cathedral of the Sea because of the novel entitled like this.
You have all information about this church in the dedicated section: Santa Maria del Mar. After this visit to the temple , if you get out by the door right behind the altar you are going to find again yourself in the Passeig del Born.
Mercat del Born
On the opposite side to the Church, at the very end of Passeig del Bon is the former Mercat del Born located.
It is an impressive structure of steel and glass , a Josep Fontseré work made in the late XIX Century. Nowadays it has something impressive: it really has a secret under it feet: below the market many important remains of the modern cityhave been recently found, the city destroyed in the XVIII Century.
It was in 2002 , during a reform that had to convert the market into a public library . Thanks to this archaeological discovery , we can now see in the basement which were houses , shops and workshops of the former Modern neighborhood that the King Felipe V razed, to build the military Ciutadella , near the market.
It is striking the contrast between modern architecture materials 8iron and metal) with old stone town on the underground level, oblivious to any change.
Estació de França
From here , take the street Avinguda Marqués de L' Argenteria , always toward the sea. This street is the seat of the Estacio de França .
This beautiful train station is the end of our tour . The station was inaugurated in June 1929 by King Alfonso XIII , in the occasion of the International Exhibition of Barcelona , held that year in the city.
Right here came the first railway line in our country : a line that rans Barcelona- Mataró ( a small coastal village close to thecity ). It highlights its metal frame and modern decorations, and its marquee , having double porch, is unique in Spain .
Although our proposed itinerary ends at the Estacio de França , you have to know that very close, from Avinguda de Marques de L' Argenteria to the left hand side you can access the Parc de la Ciutadella.
However, the Parc de la Ciutadella is too extensive to visit the same day, although we recommend you go and walk around if you have enough freee time. In our section of the Ciutadella Park you can read more information about it.