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The 5 Oldest Bars in Barcelona

A Renaissance-style image of Spaniards drinking
You don't have to be this old to enter these bars and restaurants

Ahh Barcelona, the City of Prodigies.

You can't exactly go 10 feet in this city without running into an old church or historical building, which is why it has such an entrancing and captivating vibe.

Everyone who visits Barcelona is transformed by its beauty and culture, which is why so many people start pronouncing its name with a slight lisp on the C. However, after visiting the city, it's easy to understand why travelers would want to bring a part of Catalonian culture home with them.

Because history is such a crucial element of Barcelona, we decided to take a trip through time and space. Bar crawls are nothing new, but what if you could visit some of the most historic bars in the Iberian Peninsula?

While we can't promise that you'll find a portal to the past in any of these five locales, we can't promise you won't, either. So, join us on a trip to the five oldest bars in Barcelona (dang it, now we're doing it!).

Est. 1786

The entrance to the restaurant Can Cullaretes, with a metal sign on top
The Entrance to Can Cullaretes

Imagine it's 1786. The American War for Independence ended a few years prior, and Spanish residents are struggling to stay alive. Why, you ask? Well, according to history, Spain was dealing with a massive outbreak of malaria, which started in 1783 and ended in 1786.

Despite killing over 100,000 people, the founders of Can Cullaretes decided to open their doors. However, considering that quinine was a standard treatment of the disease and it was common in tonic water, it makes sense for a bar and restaurant to open. Here, visitors could drink some medicine, enjoy some delicious cuisine, and get a little tipsy.

Today, you don't have to worry about catching malaria. Instead, you'll get to enjoy a delicious menu featuring local seafood and Spanish favorites. It wouldn't be a Spanish restaurant experience without tapas, although you can order a set menu if you prefer.

As far as cocktails go, the drink menu is a little light, but you can enjoy some local wine with your meal. As you're eating and drinking, make sure to pay attention to the photos on the walls. They're of celebrities (both local and international), so you may recognize a few faces.

#2 Bar Marsella

Est. 1820

A vintage-style image of men drinking Absinthe around a table with a dim chandelier overhead
Artist's rendition of what it might be like to sip Absinthe at Bar Marsella

This bar is just over 200 years old, and it's one of the only absinthe bars in Barcelona. Unlike the refinement of Can Cullaretes, Bar Marsella is home to a variety of locals, tourists, and decidedly seedy visitors. You don't have to worry about losing your wallet or anything, but the atmosphere is much more vibrant and jovial, if you're into that kind of thing.

When Bar Marsella was founded, Spain was undergoing something of a revolution. It's unclear why times of turmoil are considered ideal for opening a bar or restaurant, but them's the breaks.

The Revolution of 1820 made the Spanish government more liberal, so it's possible that people were more willing to go out and imbibe. Fortunately, Bar Marsella still looks almost the way it did back then, so you can enjoy your own personal revolution as you chase the Green Fairy and marvel at all the vintage décor.

Strangely enough, the owners of Bar Marsella seem to enjoy letting the dirt and grime build up over the centuries, as you can spot plenty of cobwebs in every corner. Despite the lackadaisical approach to cleanliness, the bar is still busy on most weekends.

When making the trip to Bar Marsella, be sure to leave your credit cards at home. The place is cash only. Also, it only opens at 10pm, so it's not for early birds.

Est. 1860

A photo of the vintage-style bar of Casa Almirall
The very vintage and historic bar of Casa Almirall

All things considered, 1860 was a pretty chill time in Spain. For the first few years of Casa Almirall's tenancy, business was likely booming, as alcohol is always in fashion, in times both good and bad.

That would all change with the financial collapse of the mid-1860s, driven by a number of economic factors, including the price of cotton skyrocketing (due to some Civil War overseas). Nonetheless, the owners of Casa Almirall were able to stay open and avoid disappearing into the annals of history.

Today, the place is still in the seedy part of town (just a little ways away from Bar Marsella), but you can enjoy a drink in peace. There are two sections of the bar - one that more or less looks like how it did in 1860, and the other section is much more modern.

Either way, you'll feel mostly relaxed and calm during your time at Casa Almirall. Be sure to knock a few back, and if you're doing an official bar crawl, we recommend getting a round of absinthe here, too. Can't go wrong with more absinthe.

#4 Bar Raim

Est. 1886

A vintage artistic rendering of a Cuban-style bar
A Cuban-style bar, a la Bar Raim

As we near the end of the century, Spain was still a place of tumultuous events. Although 1886 in particular was not too crazy, the Spanish American war was soon to start, and Spain was about to have its colonial empire come crashing down.

1886 was also the year that king Alfonso XII was born. He would serve as Spain's head of state from 1902 until 1931, when he would be exiled to Rome during the Spanish Civil War. This year also marked the end of slavery in Cuba, so there's that.

During all of this, Bar Raim (there's an umlaut over the I in Raim) opened. While not as much of a hotspot as places like Bar Marsella or Casa Almirall, Raim still was able to generate enough of a buzz to stay in business for over 130 years.

Oh, and speaking of Cuba, the bar has become a Cuban attraction. So, instead of dining on tapas and sipping wine, you can get an amazing mojito and a delicious Cuban sandwich (among other things). The vibe is amazing, so you should plan to stay a while if you get the chance.

Est. 1897

The interior design of Els Quatre Gats, with a print of two men on a bicycle
The interior of Els Quatre Gats

Last, but not least, is this bar/restaurant that just opened before the turn of the century. The name translates to "The Four Cats," and this place was a cultural and artistic hub.

If you know the name Antonio Gaudi, you should know that he spent many nights here as one of his favorite watering holes. However, Els was home to an even more well-known artist - Picasso. In fact, according to legend, Picasso held his first public exhibition in 1900 in this place.

Unfortunately, Els Quatre Gats was not able to survive for very long, and shuttered its doors in 1903. However, it had been such an iconic spot that it was revived in 1985, thanks in part to investments from the Spanish government. So, while you won't necessarily get to drink exactly where Gaudi or Picasso did, you can still feel their spirits trapped inside the walls, begging to get out.

Or, maybe that's all the absinthe talking.

Overall, history and Barcelona go hand in hand, much like a glass of Cava with a tapas plate. So, if you're interested in good food, good drinks, and good times, any one of these historical bars is sure to delight the senses.

But be careful of the absinthe - it hits hard.

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