Located east of the Gothic Quarter and close to the sea, La Ribera / El Born was the historically wealthy part of medieval Barcelona at the height of Catalunya's mercantile and maritime predominance. The 13th through 15th centuries saw La Ribera and its narrow streets become an affluent neighborhood of handsome medieval mansions and churches, the bulk of which remains intact today.
Nowadays it's seen as Barcelona's SoHo, a popular and trendy part of town with fashionable shops, bars and restaurants lining its main axis, Passeig del Born. It's also home to the Picasso Museum, Barcelona's most-visited attraction, and other sights worth a visit. The guided tour of El Born and La Ribera includes the following:
El Born / La Ribera Attractions
Carrer de Montcada
This street became the most prominant address for Barcelona's medieval Bourgeois class, who constructed all sorts of mansions along it between the 14th and 18th centuries. Today these mansions serve as excellent examples of Catalan Gothic architecture as well as homes to art museums and galleries. One such mansion, the sprawling Palacio de Berenguer de Aguilar, is now home to the wonderful Picasso Museum.
Easily one of the world's most important collections of Picasso artwork, Barcelona's beautiful and extensive Picasso Museum will provide you with the unique opportunity to follow the trajectory of Picasso's artistic styles, ranging from drawings created as a youngster up through his major works later on in his artistic career. Along with dozens of paintings from his Las Meninas series you can see works from his famous Blue Period, Pink Period, Neoclassical stage and his characteristic Cubist style. The sheer range of styles and stages emphasizes not only his extraordinary changes of style and mood, but also his immense and multifaceted talent.
Passeig del Born
Spanning from the Placeta de Montcada eastward towards the marvelous 19th-century Mercat del Born, the Passeig del Born is Barcelona's trendiest avenues. Back in the it was the site of medieval tournaments and fairs, while nowadays it's flanked by trendy shops and boutiques, restaurants and bars. As for the Mercat del Born, it was built in the 1870's and is one of Barcelona's biggest and most impressive city market halls; while it's no longer used as a market, it's an impressive sight nonetheless.
Santa María del Mar
With soaring heights and sunlight streaming through magnificent stained glass windows, Barcelona's Santa María del Mar Church is considered the city's most pure example of Catalan Gothic architecture. The basilica was built between 1320 and 1383 at the city's most affluent peak... and it certainly shows. Within the austere exterior lies a breathtaking interior brimming with Gothic elements: soaring heights, sunlight streaming through magnificent stained glass windows, an overwhelming sensation of space, ribbed vaulting supported by slender columns and elaborate altarpieces.
Palau de la Música Catalana
Built in 1908 by key Catalan modernista architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, this concert venue is a fascinating edifice of colorful tiles and elaborate sculptures where imagination and creativity is balanced with the achievement of ideal acoustics for music performances. Behind its elaborate façade, a sumptuous blend of Spanish and Arabic elements, of brick and of shiny tile, is an even more dazzling interior. A sumptuously decorated lobby leads into the auditorium, whose centerpiece is without a doubt the spectacular and truly one-of-a-kind ceiling, a masterpiece of stained glass and curious shapes. It comes as little surprise that the venue has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.