Port Vell – The old port of Barcelona
Barcelona / Port Vell
The old port of Barcelona ‘Port Vell’
Port Vell, the ‘Old harbour’, is the oldest part of Barcelona’s harbour. The harbour has been completely restored as part of an urban renewal project ahead of the 1992 Summer Olympics. Visit the port by a boat trip or harbour tour.
Port Vell, harbour of Barcelona
|Metro||Metro station Drasanes, Barcelona|
The old port of Barcelona
Port Vell, the ‘Old harbour’, is the oldest part of Barcelona’s harbour. The harbour has been completely restored as part of an urban renewal project ahead of the 1992 Summer Olympics. Before that, the harbour area used to be run down with empty warehouses, marshalling yards, and harbour factories.
Now Port Vell harbour in Barcelona is an important tourist attraction with the Maremàgnum (a shopping centre that also has a cinema, bars, and restaurants), an IMAX theatre and Europe’s largest aquarium. A pedestrian bridge called the Rambla de Mar connects the busy Rambla street to the harbour. You can find the bridge to the harbour near the statue of Columbus.
There is also a striking cable car from the harbour to Montjuic hill. These red gondolas of the Transbordador Aeri del Port will offer you a magnificent view of the harbour. More about this cable car.
The harbour of Barcelona
The ‘Gamba’ in the harbor
The “new” port of Barcelona
In 2013 the port of Barcelona itself was renovated. New quays and improvements are meant to ensure that Port Vell will last for many more years to come. Be sure to take a stroll through this harbour during your city break.
Want to see the harbour from the water too? Several boat tours depart not far from the monumento a Colon that sail the Barcelona harbour. Read more about boat trips in Barcelona.
Boat trips from Port Vell
Where is the port of Barcelona?
Near the harbour of Port Vell are:
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Barcelona things to do
10 Things to Do at Barcelona’s Port Vell Harbour
A short walk from the city centre, Barcelona’s Port Vell harbour is one of the most beautiful areas of the city. Popular with visitors and locals alike, and with plenty of things to see and do, it’s a great place to relax with friends and family.
Here’s our list of the ten best things to do at the Port Vell.
Barcelona’s Port Vell Harbour
1. Enjoy the Panoramic Views
Surrounded by the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter and with a pedestrianised waterfront dotted with palm trees and public art, the Port Vell is one of the most picturesque parts of Barcelona.
The view from the harbour wall is pretty magnificent but to get a truly panoramic view you should check out the following locations.
The Barcelona Port Cable Car
Built in 1929, The Port Cable Car connects the Barceloneta beach to Montjuïc and crosses the port diagonally at a height of between 70 and 90 metres.
The journey lasts approximately eight minutes and the tiny red and white cabins can accommodate up to twenty passengers.
More Information here >>
The Columbus Monument
A lift in the base of the Columbus Monument takes visitors up to a glassed-in viewing platform just below Columbus’ feet. In addition to views of the harbour, the 60m high column also affords good views of the Gothic Quarter and La Rambla.
More information in this post >>
Museum of the History of Catalonia
The museum’s fourth-story terrace and restaurant are a good vantage point with views across the port.
2. Take a Boat Tour
Another fun way to see Barcelona is from the sea and there’s no shortage of boat trips to choose from.
The longest established boat tours in Barcelona are Las Golondrinas which have been operating since 1888. The company runs small, traditional styled boats which do a forty-minute tour of the harbour. They also have modern glass-bottom boats that leave the port and cruise along the coast as far as El Forum and back.
There are numerous other boat tours available ranging from electrically powered Eco Tours to catamaran cruises, sunset sailing cruises and Party Boats.
Relaxing at the Port Vell harbour
3. Check out the Public Art
There are so many statues and monuments at the harbour that the area is sometimes compared to an open-air art gallery.
The oldest and best-known monument is the statue of Columbus which was inaugurated during the nineteenth century.
Other more contemporary statues were added as part of the regeneration project which transformed the harbour from rundown industrial quarter to the attractive leisure area that it is today.
Statues at Barcelona’s Port Vell Harbour
- Columbus Monument
- Stargazers (Miraestels)
- Monument to US Servicemen
- Monument to Romul Bosch i Alsina
- Monument to Joan Salvat Papaseit
- La Parella
- Monument to Sportspeople of the Sea
- Barcelona’s Face
- Evocació Marinera
Shop ’till You Drop
Located in the centre of the harbour, the ultra-modern Maremagnum shopping centre houses a wide range of stores from major high-street brands as well as restaurants, bars, coffee shops and a cinema.
Unlike other shopping centres in Barcelona, which don’t open on Sundays, the fact that the Maremagnum is located in the port means that it can open 365 days a year.
If you are looking for an FC Barcelona shirt or last-minute souvenir on a Sunday, this is the place to come.
The Columbus Monument and Viewpoint
5. Visit a Museum
There are two excellent museums at the Port Vell Harbour:
Barcelona Maritime Museum
Housed in Barcelona’s medieval shipyards, the Maritime Museum contains a collection of more than a hundred model ships of all shapes and sizes plus a full-sized replica of a sixteenth-century galley used at the battle of Lepanto.
The museum’s extensive collection also includes charts, navigational aids, figureheads and shipbuilding tools. There are even a couple of tall ships which belong to the museum moored in the harbour itself.
Museum of the History of Catalonia
As its name suggests, the museum traces the history of Catalonia from the Palaeolithic period to the present day. Housed in an old nineteenth-century warehouse, you can get great views of the harbour from the museum’s roof terrace restaurant which sometimes stages concerts in the evenings.
The museum can be visited free of charge on the first Sunday of each month.
6. Catch the Cable Car up to Montjuïc
Planning to visit Montjuïc Castle? The most scenic and fun way to get there is by cable car.
Take the Port Cable Car from the beach, across the harbour to half way up the mountain. Then catch a second cable car up to the top.
More information in this post >>
Barcelona Port Authority Building
7. Gawp at the Yachts
Hardly surprisingly, the port is a paradise for boat lovers with all type of watercraft ranging from historic tall ships to fishing boats, dinghies to super yachts and everything in between.
The innermost part of the harbour has hundreds of berths for sailing boats.
Barceloneta wharf caters for the luxury motor yachts of the super-rich. It’s not uncommon to see giant motor yachts with helicopters on deck and built-in garages for jet skis and speedboats.
Smaller cruise ships and the occasional Navy vessel dock at the Moll de Barcelona wharf, next to the World Trade Centre. Larger cruise liners and ferries to the Balearic Islands dock in the newer outer section of the harbour.
8. Visit the Aquarium
One of the city’s many family-oriented attractions, Barcelona Aquarium houses twenty large tanks, most of which recreate different Mediterranean habitats.
The aquarium’s star attraction is the Oceanarium; a huge five metre deep tank with an eighty metre long glass tunnel that lets you get close up and personal with sharks and manta rays.
There’s also a children’s area with touch pools and a submarine.
The aquarium is open seven days a week from 10:00 to 19:30
More information and tickets here >>
La Rambla del Mar and the Maremagnum shopping centre
Buy Some Antiques
One of the best-known antiques and collectables markets in Barcelona takes place every weekend next to the Columbus Monument.
The Fira de Brocanters is open from Friday to Sunday from 11:00 to 21:00. The market’s small stalls are set up in the open and sell a mixture of antique and vintage items including coins, medals, posters, postcards, ornaments and bric-a-brac.
10. Marvel at the Architecture
The harbour is located in the Gothic Quarter and is surrounded by emblematic buildings from the thirteenth century to the present day.
The earliest building is the Royal Shipyards which is the oldest remaining shipyard of its kind in Europe.
When the harbour was refurbished, several interesting modern buildings were added including the World Trade Center and the Rambla Del Mar walkway.
Architecture at Barcelona’s Port Vell
- The Royal Shipyards (13th century)
- La Llotja del Mar (14th century)
- El Palau de Mar (1880)
- The Port Customs Building (19th century)
- Casa Xifré (1840)
- Barcelona Port Authority Building (1903)
- Barcelona Central Post Office (1927)
- La Rambla del Mar (1994)
- Maremagnum (1995)
- The World Trade Center (1999)
Barcelona harbour is located near the city centre at the end of the famous Las Ramblas boulevard.
How to Get To the Port Vell Harbour
The nearest metro stations are Drassanes (L1) and Barceloneta (L4).
The Hop On Hop Off bus tour stops at four different locations within the harbour area.
Estació de França train station is located nearby.
Map of Barcelona Harbour
Montjuïc Attractions: Port Vell – The main port of Barcelona – The main attractions of Barcelona
The history of Port Vell in Barcelona. Landmarks of Port Vela in Barcelona. Several ways to get to Port Vela in Barcelona.
As in any large coastal city, in Barcelona the Port is a kind of calling card and facade, from which acquaintance with local attractions begins.
Today, the capital of Catalonia receives cruise liners through the sea gate, imports and ships cargo, but in addition to the working area, there remains the historical part of Port Vell, where many interesting objects for tourists are located.
It is worth noting that there are several ports in Barcelona, but the old part of the sea gates of Barcelona – Port Vella (Port Vell) – is the main and most beloved.
How it all began
The Royal Docks in Barcelona, which existed from the 13th to the 15th century, where galleys were built, are considered to be the prototype of the port. All merchant ships were unloaded on the shore unsuitable for this in the area of Montjuic. The construction of the port was started by Juan II of Aragon in 1477.
The pier was used by the builders to connect Mayans Island to the shore, protecting ships entering the harbor from strong Mediterranean winds. The site is now the Barceloneta district.
From the moment it was founded, various works were constantly carried out on the territory of the port to strengthen and expand it, which made it possible to obtain a modern and reliably protected facility. The biggest changes in the appearance of Port Vella Barcelona were made during the preparation of the capital of Catalonia for the Olympics 1992 years when the Olympic Village and Port Olympic were built.
Work is still ongoing to improve the port, and its territory will be significantly expanded with the transfer of the mouth of the Llobregat River.
Do you know that?
At present, you can also learn a lot of interesting, but not well-known facts about the port of Barcelona, which has a rich history:
- The port of Barcelona ranks first in the Mediterranean basin and fourth in the world in terms of passenger traffic;
- The Allure of the Seas cruise ship, the largest on the planet, with a length of 362 meters, stopped in Barcelona on its way to Rome in May 2015;
- In the capital of Catalonia in 2011, a scheduled repair was carried out at that time the largest yacht Eclipse owned by Roman Abramovich, which lost the first position in 2013 to the yacht Azzam of the Prince of Saudi Arabia.
- Every four years, the Barcelona World Race starts from Barcelona, a round-the-world regatta that is the world’s only non-stop race for two-seat sailboats.
Attractions Port Vela in Barcelona (where to go)
Port Vela is a place where you can safely go with the whole family. And better – several families. Here everyone will definitely find something to their liking: entertainment for children, shopping, boat trips, inexpensive fast food and chic restaurants. You can also go here. If all other plans are covered and it’s raining.
The symbol of Port Vell, which means “Old Port” in Old Catalan, is a monument to Christopher Columbus, who points with his right hand towards the sea.
This is where the marina area begins, stretching to the Barceloneta area.
Here, near the pedestal, there is a marina for pleasure boats – Swallows (Las Golondrinas), on which it is pleasant to travel along the coast of Barcelona and enjoy the panorama of the city and the views of Port Vella.
The building that once housed the legendary Royal Docks of Barcelona is now home to the Maritime Museum. Here you can feel like a contemporary of the Age of Discovery, which is facilitated by the exhibited copies of medieval caravels and galleys, various ship utensils and navigational instruments.
In the museum you can see an old atlas, which lists the lands discovered in 1493. Those who wish can become passengers of the schooner “Santa Eulalia”, standing here, moored to the shore.
The curvy Rambla del Mar bridge leads to a small promontory where the large Maremagnum shopping center is located. This is an ideal place for shopping, open even on Sundays, great for walking.
Here you can dine in one of the restaurants, enjoy the view of Port Vell and Montjuïc, or spend the night in the funky disco.
A constant interest, especially for families with children, is visiting the Barcelona Aquarium (L’Aquarium), which presented the underwater inhabitants of the Mediterranean Sea. The eighty-meter transparent tunnel creates the illusion of being among marine life, those who wish can experience the thrill of diving into a pond with sharks (of course, under the protection of a reliable cage). And the daily feeding of these predators becomes a real show that attracts many spectators.
Tired of walking around the vast territory of the port, tourists can relax in the IMAX PORTVELL cinema 3D, a visit to which also causes a lot of thrills. Language doesn’t matter here. Films are specially designed for the feelings of the audience.
Walks among the sea and palm trees
The promenade, La Rambla de Mar, is located between Barcelona’s Rambla and the pretty Muelle d’Espanya. During the day, palm alleys, the sea and the sun reflected in it are a pleasure, and at night special lighting makes the place completely romantic
By the way, you can take a virtual walk in Port Vela of Barcelona here: Visita Virtual
Several ways to get to Port Vela In Barcelona
- Not far from the statue of Columbus is the Drassanes metro station. This is line L3.
- You can also get to Porto Vell by any bus, the route of which runs along La Rambla, for example, 50, 14 and 120. And there all the sights of Port Vell are just a few steps away. How to save on tickets – read here.
- Four cruise terminals are located on the Adossat waterfront, which can be reached by the port shuttle T3, and three more – near the Business Center (World Trade Center).
- From Montjuic, the cable car will take you to Barceloneta, to the tower of Saint Sebastian.
Barcelona Bus Turistic
- Barcelona Bus Turistic also stops here. If you don’t know what it is yet, you are here. There you will find prices, routes and all the features for a tourist
Official website: www.portvellbcn.com
Old Port of Barcelona in Barcelona – details with photo
Old Port of Barcelona was completely rebuilt in the 1990s. and now it’s full of boat docks, museums, restaurants, and lookouts. Here, a glorious past coexists with a turbulent present, much of which is connected with the maritime history of Barcelona. Aduana (customs), Capitania General (port authority) and Gobierno Militar (military department) adjoin the port.
The Columbus Monument is no longer the tallest coastal structure, but it is a great place to start your tour. Ride the elevator up to 50 meters to view the port. Ahead is the mooring for trimarans (Las Golond Rinas) plying to the Olympic Village. Here are the world’s largest medieval shipyards, a unique complex of vaulted buildings of the 13th century. around a gigantic central courtyard where whole galleons were placed. Luckily for Barcelona, the shipyards were saved from destruction at the last minute and now, renovated, make a beautiful backdrop for the Maritime Museum.
Ship models, nautical instruments and charts illustrate the maritime history and maritime traditions of Catalonia. The exhibition gives a broad picture of the development of navigation up to submarines, and then immerses you in a virtual maritime show. After that, you can sit in a cafe or restaurant under the orange trees in the courtyard.
Another example of a successful renovation is the Museum of the History of Catalonia, where the exhibits are presented in chronological order, using interactive media, information boards, maps, audio-visual devices, photographs and layouts. All signatures are in Catalan, so pick up a translation brochure at the box office. The exposition occupies two renovated floors of the Palau del Mar (1900) – former warehouses on the pier of Barceloneta. The most interesting section is on the second floor, which tells about the appearance of man in Catalonia, Iberia and ancient Rome. It also briefly outlines the history of the Moorish invasion, as well as a lot of information about the Middle Ages and the Habsburg era. The third floor is dedicated to industrialization, urban development and the social and political cataclysms of the 20th century, until the adoption of the new constitution in 1978. From the cafe on the terrace of the 4th floor, fabulous views of the port area open up.
A new road, the Rambla de Mar, runs from the Columbus monument to Port Vel and the Mol d’España. This is a large, newly built area with embankments entirely occupied by entertainment establishments. The Maremagnum shopping center complements the Aquarium, representing the underwater world of the Mediterranean. You can see sharks in the tunnel.
Barceloneta (Little Barcelona) lies between the main port and the Olympic Village. This is a network of streets of the 18th century, where sailors and fishermen traditionally settled.