Port Vell Is A Living Port and One of the Main Tourist Attractions in Barcelona:
Barcelona is a city by the sea, the Mediterranean Sea to be exact. Like most coastal towns its history and ambiance are affected by that fact. For centuries the Port of Barcelona was the scene of seafarers and townspeople bustling about on traditional business and activities that take place at any port. But Port Vell fell into disuse over the generations. Its warehouses fell empty, its rail roads less travelled, its industrial buildings grew quiet.
Fortunately, like many coastal towns such as San Francisco and Boston, Barcelona saw an opportunity to revitalize its seaside area just prior to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
In an ambitious urban renewal effort lasting years, the wharf became a yacht basin, the buildings transformed into shops, an IMAX and an aquarium. Its rail lines became walkways for the millions that now throng the area every year. A coastal road was even moved underground to enable visitors to walk safely from one exciting offering to another.
Things to See in Port Vell
The Port de Barcelona building has a very ornamental facade and is worthy of a few holiday snaps. And, the Rambla de Mar is more than just a walkway over space and water. It is itself a thing of beauty. Walk across the Rambla de Mar and you’ll find the Maremàgnum, one of the major attractions in Port Vell. This mall is full of shops, theatres, restaurant and other leisure amenities. Just behind this building is the IMAX cinema and Barcelona Aquarium.
Like many in larger cities, the IMAX offers an enormous 3-D screen. But there is also a flat screen IMAX and an Omnimax. Here, visitors can take advantage of any of the three different shows that play continuously. There are discount tickets available that will get you into all three events.
The Barcelona Aquarium is the largest attraction of the Port Vell area and its popularity is well deserved. With 8,000 aquatic species, including a dozen sharks, this 6 million litre facility will delight marine-life lovers of all ages. One section offers an 80-metre long observation tunnel. Along the glass walls you can see hundreds of native deep sea species, as well as the sharks.
South of the Maremagnum lies the Aduana building. The structure was erected in 1902 and served as the customs house. It now provides an outstanding sight for visitors who want to get a feeling for turn of the 20th century architecture in Barcelona. Nearby, stretched along the pier, is Barcelona’s World Trade Centre.
Even the sea sights will be of interest to many visitors. The luxury yachts and sailing ships are a delight to the eye. One can often see them moving gracefully around the sea just off shore. Take a boat tour and enjoy a view of Barcelona available nowhere else in the city. The peaceful cruise provides a nice contrast to the bustling waterfront.
When you’re done with this part of the marina, stroll back across the walkway and up the road a short way and spend some time viewing the Monument a Colon (Columbus Monument). The explorer is memorialized on top of a 60m column in the form of a statue that points toward the sea.
The monument, erected in 1888, resides at the site where the great man landed in 1493 after his discovery of the direct sea route to America. It is located in the centre of the Placa del Portal de la Pau (Square of the Gate of Peace).
Enjoy an afternoon of sunbathing and dining or catch a show. Go cycling or roller-blading then have a cool drink at one of the many bars. Port Vell is easy to find. Just walk east until you hit a very large expanse of blue-green water topped by an azure sky, or take the Metro to Drassanes. If you’re doing some Barcelona sightseeing, Port Vell is on the Barcelona Hop-on Hop-off tour route.
For those who want a Barcelona hotel that is close to the marina, there is a range of hotels just a stone’s throw from the Port Vell.
Map of Barcelona: