History and Absinthe in Bar Marsella

I have a confession to make.

When we were in Europe, Johnny and I didn’t make it to many bars. We much preferred to drink with our dinners, buy a bottle (or 3) and drink by the Seine.

But when we went to Barcelona, we realized that Barcelona is very, very much a party city. Clubs don’t close until dawn, people are walking home drunk at 7am, and it was CHEAP. Coming from Paris and Venice, Barcelona was a much needed break on our wallets. We decided to break our spell and get crazy while we were in Barcelona. After spending a few minutes on Google researching bars near our hotel, one stood out in particular: Bar Marsella.

Bar Marsella opened in 1820 (!!!!) in the El Raval neighborhood. It is said to be the first bar in Barcelona and was frequented by Dalí, Picasso, Gaudí, Hemingway, and many other famous artists. You might recognize some of the photos because Woody Allen chose to film a scene from Vicky Christina Barcelona there. It’s also one of the only bars in Barcelona that serves absinthe. I can’t stand anything anise flavored, so absinthe is a no go for me, but Johnny was all too happy to have his first taste in Europe.

Apparently Bar Marsella hasn’t been cleaned thoroughly since it opened and it definitely shows. Thick cobwebs cover old liquor bottles, the chandeliers, the corners of the walls. The floor is tattered and worn. The ceiling paint is peeling away. The grime visible on the mirrors. And that’s the main reason it’s so charming. Despite Bar Marsella being packed with tattooed hipsters and the occasional tourist, you’re definitely transported back to the 19th century, right down to the prostitutes and hoodlums that are hanging out outside.

Bar Marsella is located at C/ Sant Pau, 65  08001 Barcelona, Spain. I will say this: the area around Bar Marsella is not the safest at night. As with any situation, just use common sense and caution.

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