Cheap hotels in El Raval, Barcelona
Intriguing, densely populated (but less heavily touristed) El Raval is located to the west of La Rambla. An outskirt and slum for much of its existence (its name comes from arrabal, which means "suburb" or "slum"), El Raval long bore the nickname Barrio Chino. The circus performers, gypsies and prostitutes who once lived here are immortalized on some of Picasso's most famous works from his Blue Period.
Today, the area has largely cleaned up its act, but it still maintains its rough-and-tumble edge and diverse population. And it's home to some of the most interesting spots in the city, including open-air markets, legit old eateries and trendy new bars and cafés. Also here are major cultural institutions like the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA and the Centre de Cultura Contemporània (CCCB), as well as the Maritime Museum and the medieval Hospital de la Santa Creu.
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