The single best department store is El Corte Ingles (tel 93 306 38 00; Placa de Catalunya), with smaller offshoots spread about the surrounding area. It has another important branch northwest of town on Placa de la Reina Maria Cristina and a third on Avinguda Diagonal.
FNAC (Avinguda Diagonal 549), the French-owned store specialising in CDs, tapes, videos and books, is worth exploring for these items. The shop is part of a huge shopping mall - l'Illa del Diagonal - considered one of the city's more interesting architectural developments since the Olympic Games.
A more central shopping centre, El Triangle (Placa de Catalunya) houses a branch of FNAC and a collection of other stores, including Habitat.
If you like shopping emporia, the Centre Comercial de les Glories, by the massive roundabout and metro stop of the same name, could be for you. It counts 250,000 square metres of space in the grounds of the former Hispano Olivetti factory, and is also home to a range of bars and eateries to take your mind off shopping for a while.
Hypermarket lovers in Barcelona were given the ultimate treat in 2001 with the opening of Heron City, an enormous complex of shops, cinemas, bars, restaurants and other diversions. It's located well out of the centre of town at Passeig de Andreu Nin, just off Avinguda de la Meridiana about 4km north of Placa de les Glories Catalanes (metro Fabra i Puig). Yes, mall mentality has arrived.
The concept of the 24-hour general store has yet to reach Barcelona, but an approximation is VIPS (tel 93 317 48 05; Rambla de Catalunya; open 9am-3am daily), an import from Madrid. In Madrid the chain thrives, but in Barcelona it hasn't really caught on. Another one to try is 7-Eleven (tel 93 318 88 63; Carrer de Roger de Lluria 2; open 7am-3am daily).
Need photocopies or films developed at 5am? Head for Workcenter (tel 902 11 50 11; Carrer de Roger de Lluria 2), a printing and reproduction centre open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Large Els Encants Vells ('the old charms'; open 8am-7pm, and to 8pm during summer), also known as the Fira de Bellcaire, is held every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday next to Placa de les Glories Catalanes. The markets moved here in August 1928 from Avinguda Mistral, near Placa d'Espanya, because the sight of such a jumble sale did not fit in with the town fathers' visions for the 1929 World Exhibition. For years there has been talk of shifting them again but for the moment they seem set to stay put. You can find everything here - all at preus de ganga (bargain-basement prices).
In Barri Gotic, there's a crafts market (Placa de Sant Josep Oriol) on Thursday and Friday, an antiques market (Placa Nova) on Thursday, and a coin and stamp collectors' market (Placa Reial) on Sunday morning. On the western edge of El Raval, Mercat de Sant Antoni (metro Sant Antoni) dedicates Sunday morning to old maps, stamps, books and cards.
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