Bar Marsella. Any visitor to Barcelona who has a taste for good tipple has no doubt walked through its doors at some point. Located in the heart of Raval, right next to the cities famed Filmotecha, Bar Marsella is where locals and travellers alike go to chase the green fairy and step back in time.
Opening in 1820, the business is presumed to be Barcelona’s longest operating absinthe (and arguably regular) bar, with list of old regulars that reads as a who’s who of the arts world in the twentieth century. Dali, Hemingway, Picasso and Gaudi were all known to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the drinks warming glow. Despite the incredible changes Barcelona has witnessed over the past one hundred and fifty years Marsella has remained relatively untouched.
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Despite its fame, or indeed infamy, Marsella today still attracts a fine mix of locals, students, tourists and struggling artists. If your’e looking for a taste of authentic Barcelona while still enjoying a varied crowd then this is the place to go. Usually opening around 10pm and remaining opening till 2/3am it’s advised to grab a table before midnight if possible. While the pre-drinking, pre-club atmosphere within the establishment is always infectious, it is best to grab a seat with friends and soak up the environment and properly nurse the absinthe given.
Correctly served with sugar cube, fork and mineral water to dissolve said cube into the rather lethal spirit, Marsella offers the real deal when it comes top trying the bohemians favourite beverage. In a world were absinthe shots are now used just to fast-track ones journey to memory loss, nothing can beat sitting with good company and patiently letting the liquid change colour and do its magic.
While doing so visitors can enjoy the sense of truly stepping back in time. No faux art-deco or modernist artwork here, only cobwebbed draped mirrors, bottles and tiles that have miraculously escaped modern tastes and changes. It’s no wonder Woody Allen chose to shoot some footage for ‘Vicky, Christina, Barcelona‘ here. Its charm is not easily replicable. Accessible while still bringing some of the edge and character that El Raval has in abundance, Bar Marsella is must for those who want more than just repeated canas and vino. Long may she stay open and long may she remain unchanged.