Barcelona's Gothic Quarter
Known as Barri Gotic or simply El Gotic in Catalan, and Barrio Gotico in Spanish, whatever name you give it Barcelona's Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of the city and it's here where you'll find many of her most precious treasures. Foremost on your hitlist should be the Gothic Cathedral of Santa Eulalia (also known as Cathedral La Seu and not to be confused with Gaudi's bruiser La Sagrada Familia in the Eixample district). An open space in front of the Cathedral enables onlookers to admire the church's grand facade, even if it is most likely marred by the odd crane or two. Venture inside to discover the 13 geese representing the 13 years of the virgin matyr Saint Eulalia herself.
Right by the cathedral the sharp eyed tourist should be able to make out the remnants of a Roman aquaduct which once ferried water supplies to thirsty toga-wearers all those centuries ago. In fact the historically inclined tourist should be able to find several other interesting Roman remains, including the pillars of what was once Emperor Augustus' headquarters for a short time - head to Carrer Paradis 10 to see them. (More Roman remains can be seen under the City History Museum).
Wandering from the Cathedral further East into the Barri Gotic and you should come across Placa Santa Jaume. A significant square indeed, as this used to be Barcelona's ancient Roman forum and has kept its political role - today you can behold the magnificent Renaissance facade of the Palau de la Generalitat, the headquarters of the government of Catalonia. It's the one with the surly-looking guards out front.
Exceeding the Placa Santa Jaume in beauty however, and possibly the cynosure of the entire Gothic Quarter is Placa Reial (Plaza Real). This resplendent space comes replete with palm trees, and Gaudi-designed lampposts and fountain... no wonder it takes some beating. Always packed, not always with salubrious characters, this is prime people watching territory and it's worth paying the mark-up on a beer to sit on this square for a while. Later on the plaza becomes a centre of Barcelona's nightlife.
Needless to say reams could be written about the many museums, churches, attractions and legends, intertwined with the Gothic Quarter's medieval streets - we've yet to mention the Placa del Rei, Santa Maria del Pi and Placa Merce - and the more culturally aware may well profit from taking a guided tour. Barcelona is full of great tour operators, although you might want to start your search with the likes of Barcelona Guide Bureau or Walking Planets, both of whom offer accredited local guides.
Those that prefer sampling the vibe over taking in dates and details can still have plenty of fun simply wandering the Barri Gotic's labyrinthine passages and uncovering their secrets... throw away your map and get lost and before you know it you'll be in a tiny forgotten plaza sipping a quiet cerveza and reflecting on just how good life can be!
Naturally, as this is the touristic centre of the city, there are plenty of great hotels in the Barri Gotic if this is where you're looking to bed down. We'll bring you a guide to accommodation in the Gothic Quarter very soon! Meanwhile you might want to try the following apartments agencies.
To continue your tour of Barcelona you can head south to La Rambla, and beyond to Raval, or head in the other direction to La Ribera and El Born.
Please, we love our
neighborhood and the thing is that you're destroying it slowly. With your trash and bad modals. Please, please, if you love our city like us, respect us. We thank you.
reviewed by Rosa from Spain on Jun.30.2016
Very crowded in July when I went but so beautiful. We did manage to find or two quieter squares when we went off the beaten path.
reviewed by Nika from United States on Nov.02.2015
Full of amazing secrets its charm is neverending
reviewed by Gareth from United States on Jun.03.2013
Definitely the most picturesque zone of the city. I like the vintage shops and cute bars
reviewed by Isabelle from France on Apr.23.2012