How La Rambla Got its Name in Barcelona

La Rambla sign in Barcelona
La Rambla sign in Barcelona | © xiquinhosilva
Tara Jessop

Probably the most famous street in Barcelona alongside the nearby Passeig de Gràcia, La Rambla has for centuries been at the heart of the city’s social and economic life. If these days it’s more popular with travellers than locals, La Rambla was according to poet Federico García Lorca ‘the only street in the world which I wish would never end’. This is how it got its name.

Loved by over 40s

The origins of La Rambla

Walk down La Rambla these days and you’ll see a multitude of restaurants, street performers, tourist shops and a few rather impressive buildings, such as the Liceu theatre. The locals will be few and far between but that doesn’t stop La Rambla being one of the city’s busiest streets. However, back in the Middle Ages you would have struggled to find much else than mud and water on La Rambla.

Look carefully at the positioning of La Rambla and you’ll notice it running in the direction of the sea, which it meets at the site of the Christopher Columbus monument. In fact, until the 15th century, where La Rambla now stands there ran a stream which carried water from the surrounding mountains. It was only when the city was rapidly expanding that the stream was built over and became a paved street.

The Christopher Columbus monument on La Rambla

From outskirts to epicentre

If today La Rambla runs through the heart of the city centre, once upon a time it would actually have been outside the city walls. The Ciutat Vella or Old Town – comprising neighbourhoods such as the Gothic Quarter and El Born – is the historic centre of Barcelona and stretched only as far as the current day La Rambla to the south and to what is now the Ciutadella park to the north.

In fact, the famous Boquería market is located where it is today – just off La Rambla in the neighbourhood known as El Raval – because traders in the 19th century wanted to avoid the import tax on produce entering the city, by trading outside the city walls.

Entrance to the Boqueria market from La Rambla

How La Rambla got its name

As far as its name is concerned, rambla comes from the Arabic word ramla or رمل which means sand and in this case refers to the sandy deposit which would gather in the bed of the stream. It also refers to the fact that this particular kind of stream filled and emptied depending on the rain, meaning that it could be dry at certain periods.

What’s more, this isn’t the only Rambla in Barcelona: la Rambla del Raval, la Rambla de Poblenou, la Rambla de Badal – these are all streets which run in the direction of the sea (although not all of them used to be streams). The term is also in use across much of Catalonia, Valencia and the so-called Països Catalans.

The Rambla del Raval

Not just one Rambla but five

Finally, it’s worth noting that although this famous street often goes by the name ‘La Rambla’, there are actually five different segments of it, each with their own name: Rambla de Canaletes, Rambla dels Estudis, Rambla de Sant Josep, Rambla dels Caputxins and Rambla de Santa Mònica.

The Rambla de Canaletes is where you’ll find the Font de Canaletes, a small water-fountain famous for being the gathering point of FC Barcelona fans after a big victory. The Rambla dels Estudis was the former home of a Jesuit University – estudis meaning ‘studies’ in Catalan.

A flower stall on La Rambla

The Rambla de Sant Josep is also called the Rambla de les Flors sometimes, owing to the great number of stalls selling flowers on this segment of the street. This is also where the Boquería market is located, officially called the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. The Rambla dels Caputxins was home to a Capuchin monastery but is now best known for the Liceu theatre. Finally, the Rambla de Santa Mònica got its name from the Santa Mònica which today is a contemporary arts centre, Arts Santa Mònica.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.