Bar Marsella: See the cheeky side of 20th century Barcelona
Historic, emblematic and different, the Marsella is well worth a visit during your stay in Barcelona. Get ready to step back in time!
metro: Liceu (L3)
Sant Pau 65
Friday and Saturday 6pm to 3am
Sunday to Thursday 6pm to 2:30am
from 2 euros
to drink absinthe surrounded by modernist decor
The Marsella is a real Barcelona institution and when you first enter you are immediately struck by the old world splendour of its inimitable decor.
Marsella’s old-fashioned decor
The place has aged a lot in a century and you could be forgiven for thinking it has been abandoned for decades. The ceiling is unpainted, some light bulbs haven’t been replaced, and the mirrors are damaged.
However, the place has retained something superb.
The large marble bar, the ceramic floor, and the large wooden window frames, give the Marsella an undefinable charm.
Marsella, an emblematic Barcelona bar
Spending time in the Marsella is a great chance to get to know a magical place straight out of the past with no relation to modernity. It’s also lucky, because the bar was threatened with closing down at one point until the city stepped in to save it, as it considered that the bar was part of the city’s cultural heritage.
And for good reason! The Marsella has been a symbol of Barcelona for a long time. It is said that Hemingway, Picasso and even Dalí would drink here, at a time when the local Raval area belonged to those living on the margins of society.
During the filming of Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona, Woody Allen also spent many evenings here.
Fancy a little absinthe?
In the Marsella’s heyday, loyal customers bought their own bottle, served themselves a few glasses and put it away in the windows of the bar until their next visit.
The bottles that decorate the walls are therefore over a hundred years old…and not fit for consumption.
- The Marsella’s specialty is absinthe.
A glass costs around 5 euros and it is served with a piece of sugar and a little water. You pour it over the sugar above your glass so it penetrates into the alcohol. Don’t worry, absinthe diluted with sugar water is not too strong.
The Marsella’s atmosphere
Typically the Marsella’s regulars are groups of friends in their 20s and 30s, so the atmosphere is relaxed, and lively conversations abound.
- The Marsella doesn’t take cards so you will have to pay cash.
- You don’t have to drink absinthe but drinks are a little more expensive than in other Barcelona bars.
- In Summer the bar can be packed and the heat unbearable. We advise you to get there early to avoid any discomfort.
- The Marsella is located in Sant Pau street, which isn’t the safest street in the city. Keep an eye on your belongings and read our anti-pickpocket tips in Barcelona.
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About the author
Pauline loves books, food and new discoveries. For her articles, she loves finding original and authentic places which are a treat for both the eyes and the tastebuds. Her favourite thing to do in Barcelona? Getting lost in the Old Town and soaking up its unique atmosphere... whilst enjoying the appetising smells emerging from restaurant kitchens! Is there anything better than that?