Barcelona Crime: Pickpockets, Prostitutes, and Theft Part 1/3

Areas to Be Extra Careful When in Barcelona ~

Ever since you have been buying milk at school your parents continually remind you to watch your pockets and watch your money. You may be older, you are hoping you are wiser, but the same still holds true, even more so here in Barcelona. Violent crime in Barcelona is relatively low, so cheers for that. Unfortunately Barcelona is the European pickpocket capital. During the height of the tourist season (ie. during the summer months) there are approximately 315 reported thefts in Barcelona each day. Anyone who has been mugged or pick pocketed knows the feeling of being left with no money, feeling vulnerable and violated.

Theft in Barcelona is highly lucrative, with small fines and a quick release. The police try to serve and protect the public, but they can only do so much. While certain areas of the city are regarded as high theft locales, the truth is that it can happen on any street, at any time, by anyone. Do not be fooled thinking that thieves have s specific type; the gypsy looking woman, the poorly dressed man on the metro, the group of kids on La Rambla. These criminals take every shape and form, and they can often seem friendly and warm. Here is a list of the top 5  pickpocket locales in Barcelona.

Metro Barcelona, theft in Barcelona, pickpockets, crime in Barcelona

1. The Metro -

A ride on Barcelona’s Metro can provide quick and effortless access to the city at large. It can also provide quick and effortless access to an unsuspecting persons’ effects. Crowded and tight locations are prime hunting grounds for Barcelona pickpockets as they are able to get close, make body contact without anyone thinking twice about it, and an easy escape. Even in seemingly safe surroundings always look around and identify your location as well as the people who are around you. Wear you back pack forward or keep it in your hands. Do not leave it strapped to your back facing away from you as it is effortless for criminals to reach in and Metro Barcelona, theft in Barcelona, pickpockets, crime in Barcelonagrab any desired possession. Keep purses and camera holders tight diagonal around your chest and arms, and always be wary of people bumping or touching you, no matter how close of proximity you are. While people in Barcelona tend to be friendly, people normally do not like touching strangers unless they truly have to. Watch out for people a little too close for comfort.

2. Las Ramblas -

Barcelona’s busiest street and most famous tourist attraction. During the day watch out for pickpockets on the street. As Las Ramblas is incredibly crowded, especially during the summer and weekends it is easy to get pushed and bumped by the passerby’s. While you may feel safe being in the busiest part of the city during the day with so many people around you, it is actually Metro Barcelona, theft in Barcelona, pickpockets, crime in Barcelonaan incredibly easy  situation for criminals to get close. The close proximity and constant bumping makes it easier for Barcelona pickpockets to get close and grab hidden items in pockets and purses. You may be busy watching the living statues or looking at flowers along the streets. During this time you are not paying attention to your belongings and are not paying attention to the people bumping into you. Next you notice that your wallet or belongings are gone.  Even during the day it is important to pay attention to your surroundings and who is around you.  Keep purses closed, place the straps diagonal instead of simply resting on the shoulder. If you are taking pictures keep the camera strapped around your neck or keep it in your bag when not using it.

Metro Barcelona, theft in Barcelona, pickpockets, crime in BarcelonaIn the evening Las Ramblas can seem like an entirely different place. It is dark, empty, and seedy.  During the evenings the street tends to be the habitation of  prostitutes looking for some evening work or a person to steal a few Euros from. Be careful as they can be incredibly pushy and forward. Continue to walk without stopping or making eye contact. They are persistent and will try to make body contact. During this time they will try to relieve you of your belongings. Don’t give them this opportunity. The easiest thing to do here is to walk quickly and avoid any conversation or contact.

3. Beaches -

Metro Barcelona, theft in Barcelona, pickpockets, crime in BarcelonaThe beach is a pickpockets paradise as people are always leaving valuables out and often unattended. It is as easy as picking an item up off of a towel. Similar to every other situation, keep valuables like cards, passports, or expensive items at home, or if you have to take them with you keep them properly stowed away and never leave them out. Never leave your blanket or property even for a quick swim. Make sure someone is always watching your belongings.

4. Ciutat Vella -

This is the area of the city right off Las Ramblas beaten path. Ciutat Vella consists of narrow isolated streets that are often dark and empty. During the day it can be fun to walk through these historic pathways, however use Metro Barcelona, theft in Barcelona, pickpockets, crime in Barcelonaextreme caution and judgement when alone at night, especially after drinking. There are many fun Irish pubs and tourist bars in the area, so make sure you never leave alone as this is the perfect scenario for a thief to take advantage.

5. Any bar after a few drinks -

I have first hand experience with this scenario. Barcelona night life is fantastic. Plenty of bars to find your favorite drinks, plenty of good looking people to talk with, plenty of songs to dance to, and plenty of parties to last the whole night through. Similar to Las Ramblas and the Metro, bars and clubs are great grounds for pickpockets as people once again are in incredibly cramped, crowded rooms badly lit with loud noise and plenty of Metro Barcelona, theft in Barcelona, pickpockets, crime in Barcelonadistractions. I hate to sound paranoid and discourage anyone from having fun, but similar to other setting be wary of people touching you. Yes people tend to be more flirty and touchy with drinks and dancing but make sure to be cautious of people touching you out of the blue. If they are grabbing you without even a conversation or dance then be a bit cautious. This is true of any city or scenario, but be careful of taking strangers home. I have friends who had taken people home from the clubs only to wake up missing all of their belongings. I know this may sound cliche, but use common sense; never leave a bar or club alone or with strangers, never take passports, credit cards, cameras, or other valuable items, and always be aware of where you are and who is around you.

Pickpockets and thieves make there living by being fast and unsuspecting. Metro Barcelona, theft in Barcelona, pickpockets, crime in BarcelonaThey go after the easiest prey they can. If you stay aware, alert, keep valuables hidden and guarded they will be that much less likely to target you. Even if you are targeted by a thief do your best to avoid body contact with strangers, and avoid conversations with people on the street who appear too close for comfort. If you use these tips while traveling through these famous Barcelona locations then you will be less likely to be targeted by Barcelona pickpockets, and much more likely to enjoy your Barcelona experience,creating nothing but positive memories.

If you have any tips about how to stay safe in Barcelona we would love to hear from you.

 

Metro Barcelona, theft in Barcelona, pickpockets, crime in Barcelona Cheers,

Brettsky

Check out these other Suitelife blogs about staying safe in Barcelona:

5 True Stories To Help You Recognize and Avoid Pickpockets in Barcelona

Barcelona Pickpockets Hit the Road

 

Las Ramblas Barcelona Part 4: Architecture

“Las Ramblas Barcelona Part 4: Architecture” focuses on the world-class Barcelona architecture surrounding the famous Las Ramblas. We focus on 3 great works: the Liceu Theatre, Antonio Gaudí’s Palau Guell, and the Cristopher Columbus Memorial statue. Enjoy!

Las Ramblas Barcelona Part 1: Impressions of The Ramblas in Barcelona

The Ramblas is the most famous street in Barcelona. It is full of street performers, bars & restaurants, The Boqueria market, Plaza Reial and much much more! Have a look at our impression of Barcelona’s most famous and popular street and stay tuned for more videos detailing it’s delights.

Las Ramblas Barcelona Part 2: People who Work on Las Ramblas

Barcelona Street Profile on Las Ramblas. In this episode we look specifically at people who work on las Ramblas; street performers, artists, flower vendors, etc… Some great interviews take a look!

Las Ramblas Barcelona Street Profile #4 – Architecture on Las Ramblas

Spanish Architecture – What’s HOT on Las Ramblas

So, you’ve booked your flights to Barcelona, or you already live here, and you wanna know about the great Barcelona architecture you can see along the city’s most famous street, Las Ramblas!

Architecture in Barcelona is big and beautiful and Las Ramblas offers some tasty treats for those interested in Spanish and Catalan architecture. As with most of the architecture in Barcelona, the ground floors are generally built for retail, so don’t forget to look up to see the full extent of the beautiful designs. This blog will give you loads of info on some of the best architecture on Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas Architecture Video!

Gran Teatro de Liceu de Barcelona – The GRANDEST Barcelona Teatre


Liceo Theatre Barcelona

Liceo Theatre Barcelona


Lets start with the Gran teatre de Liceu, an impressive opera house opened in 1847. Originally a convent, this is a classic story where life imitates art. Some what of an anomaly, The Liceu Theatre was not funded by the Monarchy as all other opera houses in Europe, but funded instead by a group of private share holders.  Known as the Societat del Gran Teatre del Liceu (Great Liceu Theater Society) and you may notice a few differences in the design of the buildings architecture,  lack of a Royal Box being one of the key indicators of this peculiar but spectacular Catalan theatre.

The opening ceremony on the 4th of April 1847 saw the Liceu Theatre open as the biggest opera house in Europe, with some 3500 seats! From it’s initial augmentation, the Liceu theatre suffered many pitfalls, and it’s amazing that it’s still here today.

FIRE , ANARCHY, BOMBS, CIVIL WAR AND MORE FIRE – This is Catalonia after all!


Anarchy in Barcelona?

Anarchy in Barcelona? NO!


Tragically, the Liceu Theatre was seriously damaged by fire on April 9th 1861 and the skills of architect Josep Oriol Mestres were called upon to implement a rapid restoration. The “re-opening” a year later, left only the original Façade, entrance hall and foyer, the rest being newly built. The Lieceu Theatre cruised along for the next few decades until catastrophe struck in 1893. During the opening night of the opera Guillaume Tell, two bombs were thrown into the Liceu theatre by the infamous anarchist Santiago Salvador . Sadly, 20 people were killed and many were seriously injured. Again, the Liceu was renovated and  reopened on 18th January 1894.  The seats where the people were killed were not used for many years after. the following years were realtively quiet but by no means easy. The Spanish civil war caused such financial instabililty that The Liceu theatre was nationalised and renamed Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (Liceu Opera House – the National Theatre of Catalonia). Only in 1939 was it returned to it’s original owners. Once again, The Leceu Opera House returned to some level of normality until 1994 when there was yet another fire! The building was destroyed and the only option was for the theatre to become public in order to raise the money needed for the third rebuild. Hence the next name change The Fundació del Gran Teatre del Liceu (Liceu Great Theater Foundation). So when you visit The Leceu Theatre, see if you can notice the original features and the battle scars of this fascinating and historically rich Spanish Theatre.

Palau Guell – Las Ramblas – Gaudi’s only finished project.


Palau Guell Las Ramblas - The only building Gaudi finished

Palau Guell Las Ramblas - The only building Gaudi finished


Palau Guell is a beautifully crafted Palace, designed by Antoni Gaudi and is some what of a Barcelona secret. Known best  by die-hard Barcelona architecture fans, Palau Guell is interesting because it’s the only building Gaudi completed and little has been changed since. It’s nice to think when you look at Palau Guell, you are seeing exactly what Antoni Gaudisaw when he stood back, looked up at his work and thought, “Yes, that’s it, it’s finished, it’s perfect!” At least that’s what I imagine he thought. Antonio Gaudi is of course mostly famous for his work on Passieg de Gracia – La Padrera, Casa Batlló and the un-finished Sagrada Familia.

The Güell Palace was built for Eusebi Güell who wanted a home on Las Ramblas Barcelona. And yes, it is the same guy who asked Gaudi to design Parc Güell too, uber-rich indeed! Eusebi Güell lived in the palace until 1906 and then moved to his house in Parc Guell, where he lived until his death  in 1918, not a bad life though hey! The Palau Güell was then passed onto Eusebi’s daughter, Mercè Güell i López and was used as a police station during the Spanish Civil War.

La Boqueria Mercat – Sant Josep

Historically, the Boqueria market has played a very  important role in the development of Las Ramblas and also Barcelona as a whole (Read the Ramblas Blog #2 for an in-depth look & video). The architectural design of the Boqueria is interesting as it changed slowly over the years, matching the needs of the traders, function over form. What you see today however, is a beautifully designed masterpiece and well worth a visit.

La Boqueria Market Barcelona - Europe's biggest market!

The Columbus Monument – BCN’s Meeting Point


Christopher Columbus Monument Barcelona - Pointing to the New World

Christopher Columbus Monument Barcelona - Pointing to the New World


If you are in-to monuments and statues, this 60m column will blow your socks off! The statue of Christopher Columbus celebrates the location of where he returned to Spain after his first voyage to the Americas. It was here that he communicated with Queen Isabela and Ferdinand after his most famous of trips. The Christopher Columbus statue in Barcelona was sculpted by Rafael Atché and shows Columbus pointing out to sea or to “The New World”. This has caused many arguments as people believed he should have been pointing in-land to Spain. Standing at 7.3m tall, this is an impressive piece of Spanish architecture.


So SuiteLifers, these are a few of the Architectural highlights, but by no means all! Las Ramblas has a way of surprising you every time you go and we would love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment here or check-out our Facebook page!

Ben

Las Ramblas Barcelona Part 3: La Boqueria Market Barcelona aka Sant Josep Market

La Boqueria Market in Barcelona – AKA The Sant Josep Market

Las Ramblas Blog #3 - La Boqueria Market

Las Ramblas Blog #3 - La Boqueria Market

La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, also known as Sant Josep Market, has been called “The greatest market in the world“.

La Boqueria market is said to be the biggest market in Europe and is synonymous with the historical culture of Las Ramblas and Barcelona as a whole. Like many European markets, La Boqueria, on Las Ramblas is more than just another “place to buy food”. It is more of a showcase for Spanish culture on a much grander scale, celebrating the Barcelona culture and history. Spanish seasonal produce is traded here and offers inspiration for local Spanish chefs in the city. The best food in Barcelona will typically be linked to this market in some way shape or form, it’s not here as a tourist attraction, it’s a living, breathing, functioning, essential necessity.

Las Ramblas Barcelona: The Boqueria Market Video


How was this place created and more importantly, why?

La Boqueria Market Barcelona - Europe's biggest market!

Originally an un-regulated open air market, the Sant Josep Market was a far cry from what you see today. Created in the 18th century, the market gained popularity and competition between traders grew, rapidly and fiercely. Traders would fight and arguments between the older greengrocers/butchers and the younger “newbies” were common. Change was inevitable and the markets near the two squares merged into one, La Rambla de Sant Josep. The bird shops and florists on La Ramblas that we wrote about in our Rambla blog #2, were built surrounding the new space and salesmen in the market used to give flowers to customers when they bought something. Goes to show, even in the old days, people loved a little something for nothing. This also shows how directly Las Ramblas was influenced by La Boqueria. Las Ramblas started as an extension of La Boqueria market, although, nowadays you would be forgiven for thinking it was the other way around.

The layout of the Boqueria market is well thought out, you enter via the main entrance off Las Ramblas where you will be met with the salesmen and woman trying to sell you sweets, and fruit juice drinks. To be fair to them, they don’t give you a hard time and you don’t feel that you have to buy anything. Beyond the sweet stalls and my personal favourite, chocolate stalls, you will find the butchers stalls. Carnes Serranp, stalls 142-143 is one of the few butchers in Barcelona who still stock Horse and Bull meat. A few of the more peculiar stalls offer sheep’s heads and cow tongues. Petras No 867 specialise in edible insects and is worth a visit for you curious SuiteLifers. The central area of the Boqueria market is called “Illa De Peix” (Island of fish), and here you will find all kinds of strange and wonderful Spanish seafood. LIVE crabs and lobsters move slowly around the ice trays and are as fresh as it gets!



As Fresh As It Get's?

As Fresh As It Get's?

The modern day Boqueria – As fresh as it gets!


1914 saw the modernisation of La Boqueria, a metal roof was installed and prompted the other aesthetic and decorative improvements which soon followed. With fish and sheeps heads flying around the market, sanitary improvements were greatly appreciated by the people who worked in the Boqueria and customers alike.

Personally, what I find most interesting about La Boqueria and markets in general, is the way families continue the tradition and family business for years and years. La Boqueria market is entwined with the city’s history and the families who live here. The present salesmen are of the third and fourth generation of families who have worked in the Sant Josep market since it’s conception in the 18th century.

Hope you enjoy!

Ben H.

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