Tribute to La Rambla by Fermín Villar, Amics de la Rambla’s association president.

August 17th is here. It’s been a year since the terrible attack that took human lives and left wounded and injured. La Rambla, which is always one step ahead of what happens in Barcelona, ​​was attacked with hate and terror because of its diversity and mixture of people, races and cultures. The answer was flowers, love, and, above all, humanity. The same # 17A men and women from all over the world, who were working in restaurants, hotels and shops in La Rambla, helped thousands of other men, women and children from all over the world. And yet, despite the barbarism, in less than forty eight hours it was again full of people. People that haven’t visited La Rambla for months, even years, came back. And they impregnated the street in life in a respectful and impressive silence. They walked to tell the world “You have attacked us but you won’t win”. The words I’M NOT AFRAID  bursted naturally.

Obviously, mourning goes inside and we’ll never forget what happened. However,La Rambla never stops. Do you want to know why? Because La Rambla is life.

From Canaletes to the port; from the Canuda street to Drassanes; from the Columbus Monument to Zurich Café, La Rambla is life.

La Rambla never stops

The florist who won’t sell magnets with cactus; the butcher from La Boqueria who complains that there are too many tourists so she has to sell pre-cooked skewers; the newspaper seller who doesn’t sell newspapers anymore; the waiter offering a sangria to the tourist; the shop that now sells sportswear and before sold souvenirs, and before leather jackets and before tailored suits and who knew what came before. They are life in La Rambla.

The Royal Academy of Science; Orwell, Andersen or Chopin  plaques; Palau de la Virreina; Joan Brossa’s mask or Joan Miró mosaic in the floor. They are life in La Rambla.

The seniors who argue about football sat in the chairs-now free-that are before the Poliorama Theater; the neighbor who complains that La Rambla is not like thirty years ago, but that she won’t leave. Thirty years earlier, her mother moaned for the same and didn’t leave either.  They are life in La Rambla.

La Rambla is full of life

The music student who goes to Casa Beethoven to buy a partiture; or the one that crosses La Rambla from the Ateneo towards Massana; or the one that leaves the Liceu Theater (the same building whose parents will attend later to see the premiere of the opera season) to meet at  Andreu Nin library with his friend who studies at Elisava. They are life in La Rambla.

Raval’s neighbourhood children who leave Arc del Teatre to go to their school, at Gothic Quarter; the supermarket worker who distributes bread riding a bicycle; the lady who snorts while she stops to buy lottery; the pensioner who goes to la Caixa to check if he has received a double payment; They are life in La Rambla.

The hotel receptionist; the backpacker who’ll sleep in a hostel; the policeman who catches the pickpocket at the entry of the subway; the trash collector that empties the same bin for the third time in the morning; the bus driver recognizing she shouldn’t be there. They are life in La Rambla.

The painters who, located between the Principal Theater and the Monument to Pitarra, draw a smile in five minutes; the human statues that some criticize and others admire; the secretary and the manager of Amics de La Rambla who spend the day solving problems of neighbors and merchants. They are life in La Rambla.

This is how we pay tribute to those who are no longer here: remembering and living with the same intensity. As Catalan writer Josep Maria de Sagarra wrote  in his novel Private Life (1932), “I believed with all faith that there is no city in the world with such an original, alive and human  spirit as Las Ramblas in Barcelona”.


Fermín Villar Chavarria
Amics de la Rambla’s President