Barcelona is such an incredible city with amazing history. Barcelona has had the influence of the Romans and Visigoths, acquired by Charlemagne’s son Louis, sacked, ravaged and enslaved by Almanzor, and administered by the crown of Aragon prior to the unification with Spain. Barcelona’s Raval neighbourhood still holds this long history, dating back to the time of the Romans, and makes it one neighbourhood, despite its “dodgy” reputation, to definitely visit for wine, for history, and for great experiences.
Here’s five experiences not to miss in Raval:
The Paella Club
I make no apologies for singing the praises of Alex Betolaza’s culinary experience in the heart of Raval. With him and chef Alex Villar greeting and entertaining you while teaching you the secret elements of making paella, I have never enjoyed cooking so much. You get to make paella step by step, while imbibing great local Catalan wine (one of my faves is Priorat’s Clos Galena). They have four classes available daily, plus they are great at private group functions, and also as a space to utilise for private events. Read more details about them here.
FIU Co-Working/Llop Barcelona
A few steps away from The Paella Club is one of my favourite co-working spots in Barcelona, FIUHouse aka FIU. It’s a great space for hot desking, where you can hang out in a chill environment and get your work done. The best part is that it’s attached to Llop Barcelona, one of my personal favourites for lunch or an afternoon cava (which has turned into long nights of fun after). FIU does events, engagements, and has hosted several international speakers including famous designer Chris Do in 2018, who Dot Lung brought to Europe for several engagements. Memberships options include one month, 2-6 months, or 6 months plus. Membership also gets you a 15% discount on dining at Llop, plus free entrance to any of their events.
One of the early projects of Grup Confiteria is on the edge of Raval near Avenue Parallel, is one of the best spots for cocktails in the area. It still maintains the original feel, style, architecture, and interior design from 1912. The cocktails are impeccable, tasty, and brilliant. Their two cocktail bar cousins were named in the top 100 bars in the world, but La Confiteria could easily have been included. The bartenders make every single cocktail with style and grace; a vodka martini will be shaken between to shakers while you see the liquid flowing between each at great lengths, without a drop hitting the floor.
Bar Muy Buenas
Catalan wines, Catalan liquors, Catalan spirits and traditional modernist style is what you’ll find at Muy Buenas. Keeping the original name from its 1926 inauguration, the bar also was a cod fish merchant prior to. The owners have managed to keep the original marble bar, and painstakingly restored the spot to reflect its Gaudi-inspired period. You’ll enjoy great tapas, great wine, and learn a bit about Catalan gastronomy culture when you imbibe. La Cometa, Oller del Mas, Vine (DO Terra Alta), are just a few of the over 100 Catalan wines they have on the menu. This is definitely a spot for you to enjoy quality Catalan wine!
The Monastery de Sant Pau del Camp
One overlooked spot in Raval is arguably one of the oldest churches in Barcelona. Burial history notes it existed in 900 AD, but many of the elements of the entrance date it back to the time of the Visigoths, and there is oral history retold discussing its position in the sacking of Barcelona by Almanzor after which is was abandoned for 100 years, and many other elements can date it back to the fifth century. A tombstone with Roman inscriptions have been found on the premises, and its relation to the Bell-Lloc family is noted when the monastery was given rights to the castle in Cardedeu in exchange for the count being buried at the Church, in 1278. During the French occupation in the 1800s it served as a hospital for French and Italian troops. The church now operates a local parish, and is open for tours Monday to Friday, in the mornings and afternoons after siesta. It’s closed the entire month of August for tours.