Barcelona is a city well-known for its culture. A big part of that culture is its long relationship with literature. With its roots in medieval times, it has a long publishing history and it has also been the setting for many famous novels, like The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and The Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones. In December of 2015, Barcelona became the seventeenth UNESCO City of Literature.
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There have been many authors, such as Terenci Moix, Maruja Torres, and Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, who have grown and developed in Barcelona, many in the El Raval area in particular. The neighborhood, which borders La Rambla in the Ciutat Vella district, was once infamous for its cabarets and nightlife, prostitution and crime. The neighborhood has changed significantly over the years, becoming somewhat of an attraction.
There are many bookstores within the neighborhood where works by both local and international authors can be found. Here are the two main ones.
La Central del Raval
Located on Carrer d’Elisabets, 6, La Central del Raval is one of Barcelona’s biggest bookstores. It occupies a refurbished 17th-century building once known as the Chapel of Mercy, with a large modern interior stacked to the brim with books. They have a huge range of titles on various subjects, from authors all over the world, from the most recent of releases to classical works. They have a large selection of books in English too, as well as in other languages. You’d be hard pressed not to find what you’re looking for, and if you can’t they too have the option of ordering in.
There’s a café within the building, so why not stop for a bite to eat? They also run a variety of workshops and events.
La Central del Raval is open Monday to Friday, from 10a m to 9 pm.
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The Watergate Bookshop
Located on Pl. Vicenç Martorell, 2, The Watergate Bookshop is a small, but very interesting venue. Named after the famous political scandal, it focuses mainly on urban culture, with books and magazines about art, graffiti, tattoos, skating, revolutions, and conspiracies. It also has a wide range of stencils, stickers, music and comics available. The owner really lets his personality come to life in this place; it has a very genuine feel and he always has time to answer any questions you might have. If you have an interest in the counterculture, you’ll find it hard to leave. There is lots of information on some of the less talked about topics which are perhaps hidden by the mainstream media.
The Watergate Bookshop is open Monday to Friday, from 10am to 2pm, and then 4:30pm to 8pm.
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