One of the things I enjoy while I'm travelling, is to get away from the mainstreets, get away from the touristy things and explore the streets and places not mentioned in the guidebooks.
This is where you can find the true soul of a city. Just walk around, look at the things, take in the different smells, talk with the people living there, and you might find a more rewarding experience than in any of the must-see-places.
After walking for week on La Rambla, you realize that it is too much of a tourist attraction (or a trap even). Walk on Rambla Catalunya (continuation of La Rambla after Placa de Catalunya) to experience calm high-end district of Barcelona. It's also like La Rambla -a boulevard, but with architecture as on Passeig de Gracia. I went there on the 26th of December in the early noon. One couple was walking their dog, another family were having their morning walk. Very peacuful!
Barcelona finally got round to naming a square after George Orwell, the author of 'Homage to Catalonia' and erstwhile fighter for the POUM - the anarchist party - during the Spanish Civil War. Probably the Council had a bad conscience - as well it might. After all, there are still some twenty streets named after prominent Fascists and a large number of monuments from the dictatorship. The street named after the Duke of Victoria (Duc de Vitoria) - the man who bombed the city - was only changed in 2003. Even so, the Council's action seems half-hearted. The square is in an insalubrious part of the Old Quarter and has little to commend it except the name.
The sculpture fails to evoke anything to do with Orwell, except perhaps the tuberculosis virus from which he perished. Catalonia's homage to the man is singularly unconvincing and compares poorly with the prominence given to obscure local worthies.
The Placa George Orwell is at the end of Escudellers street, in the middle of La Merce neighbourhood. Better avoided after dark.
Not only is this neighbourhood home to the PIcasso and the Textile museums, it also is full of bars and restaurants.
You would never know it if you walked through Born during the daytime though. It's all narrow medieval alleys and atmsopheric little spots.
At night, the shutters come up, and all those buildings you thought were just apartments turn out to be bars and neighbourhood restaurants.
Although this area is only about 10/15 minute walk from the Ramblas (on the other side of Via Laetiana), not many tourists seem to make it over there. It's quite a trendy/up and coming neighbourhood, and a lot of the small shops feature clothes by young designers.
It is not off the Beaten Path for the average tourist. Actually most tourists will walk within a block or two of this area and pass unsuspectingly.
Between the Cathedral and the Ramblas is the old Jewish Sector. The building fronts might be blended in with modern building and storefronts, but you can still find some old remnants and evidence of the ancient Jewish population.
The Synagogue is still present, but nearly invisible behind a small non-descript door that leads to what you might expect to be a basement or storage. Hours are Monday to Saturday open from 11.00 to 18.00 - Sunday from 11.00 to 15.00
The Synagogue is on Carrer de Marlet (between Ramblas and Pz Constitution.)
Old Jewish Sector is on the same Carrer de Marlet and the nearby streets with the name "Call"
We found Balmes street while following the Japanese guide book up into the mountains to get to Spanish Village, which is down by the sea. Along the way, we stumbled across Balmes St., which looks like at one time it was an aristocratic neighborhood filled with fine mansions and impressive looking homes. Now it seems that most have been converted to businesses, clinics or non-profit organizations, but the buildings have lost none of their majesty.
Placa reial is a real gem, whether you want budget lodgings, a coffee in the square, a nice cold beer before your night out, some tapas - roman orgy style, or a small nightclub.. It's well worth a look.
As you walk in there is a bar on the far left that's very nice, in the far right corner are a few small nightclubs.
ok so it's not really off the beaten track but it is quite easy to miss.
Here is a photo we took of this litle corner kiosco. This is located right on the corner of Carrer de L´arc del Teatre, corner of downtown Ramblas. Next to Santa Monica Church. This young fellow just created a small stand wherein he serves cold beer, coke, water and coffee. It´s quite amusing to see this little diky bar. A tall glass of beer cost 1.20Euro and try the drink made of anise it cost 1.50 a tall glass.
We had map and we had a strong wish to see that famouse Guel parc, but going on foot up this steep mountain was too much of sacrifice..:) Anyway, it was worth climbing up (even it wasn't the right way to the parc) and seeing quiet local living home regions:)
At the heart of Barcelona lie the ancient passages, shadowy alleys, gargoyles and ghostly spires of the old Gothic city, apparently untouched by time. For hundreds of years gargoyles have adorned the rooftops of buildings, churches, and cathedrals.
On Carrer dels Comtes, as well as on other streets, you can admire some of the animal and human gargoyles that adorn the upper walls. The word "Gargoyle" shares a root with the word "Gargle"; they come from "gargouille", an old French word for "Throat". A true gargoyle is a waterspout. An unusual carved creature that does not serve that purpose is properly called a "Grotesque".
These fantastic creatures have been with us for thousands of years. The most common belief is that they are protectors, keeping evil away from the buildings and their occupants. The best-known examples of gargoyles are from the medieval period, a time when most people were illiterate. The carvings served the role of books, telling stories and reporting on life. Any original legends have probably been lost or have changed so much over time that they don't tell us anything about the original intentions.
Gargoyles and Grotesques were often thought of as guardians of the people and protected them from harm. They were made to look ugly in hopes that they would scare off evil demons and spirits who tried to enter the building or cathedral.
There are human, animal, and grotesque gargoyles. Human gargoyles weren't as popular as animal and grotesque gargoyles. Human gargoyles tended to be more bizarre than beautiful. They sometimes represented exiled townsmen who had been vanished from the city. Other human gargoyles may satirize those engaged in businesses frowned on by the church such as prostitutes and moneylenders. Some human gargoyles were made ugly to show the illness and ugliness that was believed to have been caused by the evil demons that worked for the devil.
That's why in medieval art, Jesus Christ was always handsome; he represented the absence of evil.
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