The Raval neighbourhood of Barcelona, which dates back to the middle of the 14th century, and which used to be known among the locals as El Barri Xino (The Chinese neighbourhood), is arguably the neighbourhood with the greatest array of cultural activities on offer in the whole of Europe.
And the one that, without a doubt, has undergone most social, political and historical transformations throughout its colourful history. Today, El Raval is one of the four neighbourhoods that make up the Barcelona district of Ciutat Vella, and is located between the streets of Carrer de Pelai, la Rambla, Plaça del Portal de la Pau, Barcelona Port, Avinguda del Paral·lel, Ronda de Sant Pau, Ronda de Sant Antoni and Plaça de la Universitat.
The fiestas of El Raval take place during the weekend prior to the 16th July, the day of Mare de Déu del Carme, patron saint of the neighbourhood’s main parish. The fiestas comprise a wide range of activities for all ages and tastes, from concerts, dances, activities and competitions for children to the parades of “giants”, “devils” and human towers. Since 1983, there has also been an outdoor market, organised by local traders, where crafts people and shopkeepers display their ware, and that has become one of the main focal points for tourists who wish to discover locally produced goods.
El Raval has always had close ties with cultural movements, emerging as the area with the largest concentration of theatres in Barcelona. Its streets are home to theatres such as Principal (the most veteran in the city) the Liceu Opera House, Odeon, Romea and Poliorama, to name just a few. The district is also home to free-thinking publications such as “Solidad Obrera”. The anarchist newspaper, popularly known as“Soli”, had its headquarters in Carrer Tàpies, and the workers’ union, UGT, published its newspaper, “Boletín de la Sociedad del Arte de Imprimir”, in Carrer de l’Hospital.