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Raval has a somewhat ambiguous reputation: in some instances, it is considered not to be an "ideal" neighborhood, but, hidden along its streets, there are many attractions which include some beautiful buildings and museums. Raval is an area of the city that is worth exploring as you stroll through the streets which hide the best of its strong local flavor.
Raval is one of the neighborhoods that form part of the district of the Ciutat Vella: it is very centrally located and is bordered by the neighborhoods of Sant Antoni, the Gothic Quarter and Barceloneta. The metro lines that serve the area are the Green L3, (Liceu and Drassanes) and the Violet L2 (Sant Antoni); both lines pass through Paral-lel.
The best thing to do in this neighborhood is to wander along its streets and just let yourself be enticed by the ethnic aromas of Arabic food on the Carrer de Sant Antoni until you reach the wonderful Rambla del Raval with its palms and the unmistakable, (and huge) statue of Botero's Cat, an attraction that is photographed by every tourist. Raval is a neighborhood that is worth discovering although it is often erroneously described as "dangerous." Of course, at night, it is always wise to be accompanied but any problems are more likely to be caused by people who are drunk, (the area is full of street vendors selling beer), than because of any real danger. There is a lot of poverty in Raval and this becomes evident when you enter the wonderful gardens surrounding the National Library of Catalunya which you can access from the Carrer de l'Hospital or from Carrer del Carme: here, the architectural beauty of the place, adorned with its colorful orange trees, its fountain and an open bar, provides shelter for many of the the homeless who seek the peacefulness of the courtyards in which to sleep or play the guitar in a melancholy fashion. At the same time, Raval is also the location of many charitable associations such as the soup kitchen which is supported by an association called Amor Gratis, (free love) which, every morning, serves breakfast to dozens of the poor in Carrer Robador. Another street that is very typical of the neighborhood is the Carrer dels Tallers, a perfect place for music lovers and those who are record collectors: it is, in fact, one of the stops which is scheduled into the a day's musical itinerary which you can find on this web page.
Among the main attractions in Raval is the Gran Teatre del Liceu, (the opera house) which is situated at No. 51, La Rambla. Here you can attend fantastic shows that are put on by some of the best artists, dancers and musicians in the world, provided you have booked your ticket well in advance. Another great attraction in this neighborhood is the Palau de la Virreina, which is situated at No. 99 on La Rambla and houses the Cultural Institute of Barcelona. This is a public building that is taken care of by the city's local council with the aim of promoting and encouraging cultural activities in the city and includes "La Virreina Centre de la Imatge" which is a contemporary art and learning center.
One of the most stunning features can be admired on the facade of the Palau Güell as well as the fabulously ornate ceilings inside the reception rooms where you can attend a range of different concerts. And for those who love good food and a lively atmosphere, an absolute must is to visit the colorful Boqueria Market which can also be found on La Rambla.
Raval is also full of museums such as the Maritime Museum where you can explore wooden sailboats in their actual size, small boats and jet skis as well as a range of documents which bear testament to an important part of Barcelona's history which is linked to the sea. A different epoch is on view at the MACBA and the CCCB, two interesting museums that focus on contemporary art and are always holding new exhibitions and interactive displays. And to finish off, there is Barcelona's Museum of Illusions which is located at No. 17, Carrer del Pintor Fortuny which will provide plenty of entertainment for tourists of any age.
If you're worried about getting lost or would like some help in English, why not book a private guide at Barcellona.shop who will accompany you on a fun and interesting private tour around Raval!