Description of Barcelona Port Vell Marina
Barcelona port can be found at the bottom of Las Ramblas starting from the Columbus monument and reaching to Barceloneta to form a modern marina called port Vell that was extensively redeveloped for the 1992 Olympics. The port today contains and island shopping centre. Maritime tourist attractions such as sailing ships and coastal boat tours can be found here.
The maritime port of Barcelona dates from the 4AD. The port was active as a crucial frontier trading post throughout the Middle Ages because of its location on the border between Muslim southern Spain and North Africa and the Christian world of Europe. However, the region suffered powerful storms which damaged the ships while docked in the port. From this period the Drassanes Reial Shipyard (royal shipyard) , which was used to build and repair sailing galleys, survives and today houses the Barcelona Maritime museum. Originally the Drassanes Reial Shipyard building was on the sea front with a long ramp leading out into the sea to launch the boats, but everything in front of this building is today modern land reclamation to build the modern port.
On the landward side of the Marina between Drassanes and Barceloneta is Moll de Fusta. Moored alongside Moll de Fusta is the sailboat Santa Eulalia which is a living exhibit of the Maritime museum and is included in the MMB (Museo Maritim de Barcelona) entry ticket. Also here is the Port Authority - Admiral Historic Authority building, built 1902, to handle port taxes. at Today this building is being refurbished.
Attempts were made throughout the centuries to create an artificial sheltered harbour which could shield boats from the storms. In the 15th century Barcelona began to build breakwaters on the spit of land today known as Barceloneta and today the port is enclosed on three sides. From the 18th to 20th century Barcelona port was very industrial with many brick dock warehouses, modelled on the London Warehouses. Only one survives today, The Palau del Mar, and is now the History of Catalunya museum.
In the middle of Port Vell and Maremagnum. Construction of this island shopping centre started in the 1980s and was finished for the 1992 Olympic games. The whole port area underwent a huge urban renewal to transform it from a derelict industrial port with railway lines into a public space with boulevards. Interesting fact is that Maremagnum is the one of only a few shopping complexes in Barcelona that is permitted to open on Sundays due to it being exempt from the normal trading laws because of its location "in the sea"!
Linking Maremagnum and the "Island in Port Vell" to Las ramblas is a white steel and wooden decked swing bridge that was built as an extension of Las Ramblas called Rambla Del Mar. Pedestrian traffic is stopped over this bridge sometimes to allow the sailing vessels to pass out of Port Vell.
Between the Columbus monument and Barceloneta neighbourhood Are several buildings of historical interest such as the Post office and telegraph building which still has the old radio telegraphy antennas on the roof. It is an active post office that can be visited and still retains the splendid customer hall. Also on the landward side of port Vell is Our Lady Of Mercy Baroque style basilica which is an incredibly ornately decorated church that can be visited. Inside the Christopher Columbus monument is a lift which can be taken to a small viewing gallery at the top that provides spectacular views on a clear day of the port and Cuitat vella areas of Barcelona.
The Barcelona aquarium, next to the Maremagum shopping centre, is a child friendly museum that is full of tanks with many Mediterranean fish species and habitats. Between Maremagnum and the Aquarium you will find some outdoor bars and crepes stalls.
The Port has many old historic buildings such as the clock tower "Torre del Relotge" from the 18th century and Capitania General d'Espanya former military barracks. These buildings are not open as tourist attractions but can be viewed from outside.
Once you have finished exploring the Port Vell area, I recommend visiting El Bosc de les Fades for tapas and drinks. This is a theme bar decorated like an enchanted fairy tale forest and is child friendly having indoor fountains and caves to explore. The bar is Part of the Barcelona Wax museum.
Getting to Port Vell Marina
Nearest Metro stops that serve the port Vell area are Drassanes on the green line (L3) and Barceloneta on the yellow line (L4).
For a detailed breakdown of the attractions in Port Vell Marina, click on any of the images below.
Things to do and see near to Port Vell