Drink in the history, along with your absinthe
Opened in 1820 in El Raval, Bar Marsella is said to be Barcelona’s very first bar and everyone from Picasso to Hemingway is rumoured to have been a regular at some point in this establishment’s long and louche history.
Paradoxically, while the grime on the chandeliers thickens, the floor tiles become even tattier and the cobwebs in every corner spread further, Marsella’s appeal only seems to grow. Perhaps because the bar’s mix of local Bohemians and brave tourists enjoy drinking in the sense of history as much as the venue’s famed absinthe. As pimps, prostitutes and thieves cavort right outside you are very much in the heart of the sleazy underbelly of Barcelona’s nightlife, barely changed from the 19th century.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better (or worse!), a misanthropic bar manager, one who refuses to stomach any singing or dancing (this doesn’t dull the atmosphere), cements Marsella’s cult status. No wonder Woody Allen chose to shoot a scene from Vicky Cristina Barcelona right here.
Best after midnight as it gets going late. The bar is cash only.