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The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

The Gothic Quarter, a slice of the Middle Ages in the heart of Barcelona, is an irresistible tourist attraction. The narrow streets, the walls of houses that rise overhead and almost cover the sky, take you back a few centuries. The feeling remains despite the fact that most of the buildings have been reconstructed or completed according to ancient drawings. The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is considered one of the main attractions, you can spend a whole day there without noticing the passage of time.

The Pearl of the Spanish metropolis

Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) arose on the ruins of structures built by the Romans and is located in the heart of ancient Barcelona. No other city in Europe can boast so many buildings in the Gothic style and gathered in one place.

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

The history of the neighborhood goes back more than two thousand years. Originally there were about a thousand people living in Barcino, and by the third century AD. their number has reached five thousand. Over time, the power of the Roman Empire waned and the settlement fell into decline. It survived nomadic raids, when power passed from one tribe to another, and in the 7th century it became part of the powerful kingdom of Aragon. From this point on, the economy begins to pick up and there is a lot of building going on.

The Gothic Quarter has a special atmosphere. In the maze of narrow, gloomy streets, you can hide from the scorching sun, feel the coolness of medieval buildings with thick stone walls, admire the carved wrought iron bars and colorful stained glass windows.

A tourist guide to the Gothic Quarter

The basis for the neighborhood was the settlement of Barcino. It was intended for veterans of the army of the Roman Empire who had retired. Over time, the village fell into decline, caused by the fall of the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, this comfortable place was again equipped with new buildings, most of them dating from the 14th-15th century. The Gothic style prevails, which is why the neighborhood got its name.

The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

During a walk in the Gothic Quarter you can see fragments of ancient Roman buildings, medieval buildings and their stylization.

The historical appearance of the facades is preserved, the appearance of modern elements in the form of satellite dishes or split systems is prohibited. Car access to the streets of the neighborhood is restricted, the only exception being motorcycles.

Gothic Quarter Attractions

The area is located between the streets Layetana and La Rambla, often the walk along the main tourist boulevard ends in a small cozy cafe among the old buildings Barrio Gotico. The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is a rather intricate network of streets that can suddenly lead to a dead end or the exit is not at all in the place where the navigator points to your smartphone. It is much more convenient to use a tourist map, the route around the Gothic Quarter with it will be much more accurate.

It is better to allocate a separate day for the inspection. If you go with a tour group, the tour will be an overview, with short stops at the most interesting buildings and a brief story about them. Free time in this case will not be, because the trip is strictly calculated on the time and the number of excursion sites.

If you take a route through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona on your own, you will find many intriguing places and buildings that have their own history.


A central architectural complex of important historical significance. It is located on the Cathedral Square of the Gothic Quarter, not far from the fragments of ancient Roman fortifications. The monumental Gothic structure looks openwork from afar because of the stone lace that adorns the towers and spires. Only when you get close enough, we can understand that the structure has strong walls, narrow windows, battlements on the first level and a well-protected entrance.

Cathedral, Gothic Quarter of Barcelona

The facades are covered with sculptural representations of saints, the surprisingly structured entrance arch creates the optical illusion of a funnel. As one enters the vaults of the temple, one loses significance with each step, gradually gaining spiritual enlightenment.

There are two important shrines in the complex: the tomb of St. John the Baptist. The chapel of St. Eulalia and the chapel with the icon of St. Lucia, the healer of sight. Entrance to the temple is free after 5 pm. It is also possible to visit it between services, be sure to wear appropriate clothing, covering arms up to the elbows and legs to the knees. Allowed to climb the observation deck in one of the bell towers. Regular concerts of choral and organ music are held in the temple.

Thirteen white geese live permanently in the courtyard in memory of the town’s patron saint, St. Eulalia, who died at the hands of pagans.

Le Mercer Basilica

Basilica of Le Merce, Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

Before it was built, there was already one of the Gothic churches there, and over time it almost collapsed. It was not reconstructed, and a church was erected on its former foundations in the 18th century, with its Baroque style. In the temple installed a wooden sculpture of Our Lady, the basilica is active, services and weddings are held.

Home of Mercy

Mercy House, Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Historians say it is one of the oldest buildings in the Gothic Quarter. Its construction was completed in the 12th century and was based on a fragment of a well-preserved Roman wall. The house was reconstructed several times and underwent serious remodeling. Inside it was changed beyond recognition, and in the 20th century the collections of the Diocesan Museum were moved there. One floor is dedicated to exhibits devoted to the work of architect Antonio Gaudi.

King’s Square

King's Square, Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

The first buildings on it were built in the 11th century. The most important building is the Palace of the Kings. Its architecture is a mix of Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Visigothic elements. The throne room is enormous in size and stunningly luxurious.

Nearby is a tower built in the 16th century. It is named after Martin the Humanist. The 14th-century chapel retains much of its original interior decoration, including statues and frescoes. In the house of Clariana Padeias, which is located next to the Palace of the Governor, is located a historical museum, the pearl of the collection is considered to be the exhibits of the ancient period, and in the basements are preserved ruins of Roman buildings.

Placa Nova

Placa Nova in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

It used to be the center of the city, where the old fairs were held, residents gathered to hear a new decree or take part in a festive procession. As architectural monuments, the municipality carefully preserves the remains of the walls and the Roman aqueduct. A striking contrast is created by the classic Bishops’ Palace and the College of Art Nouveau architecture, to visit which tourists are attracted by the original story of the development of the city.

Admission is free, as is watching the colorful cartoon about the change of eras, styles and the process of creating historic buildings. On the square there are often spontaneous concerts, exhibitions of street artists, flea markets, where they sell and buy the most unusual things.

Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

The most romantic place in the Gothic Quarter is also in the pseudo-Gothic style and is not a historical monument in the full sense of the word. But on most postcards and tourist booklets describing the Gothic Quarter, there is a photograph of the graceful openwork gallery.

Rue Portal de l’Angel

Via Portal de l'Angel - Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

It stretches between the cathedral and Plaza Catalunya. The stores, boutiques, and shopping galleries on both sides of the street impress with their wide range of products. Here you can buy things from world famous brands, exclusive jewelry and cute trinkets made in the national arts and crafts.

It’s also worth looking at:

  • the Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi;
  • 4 columns of the Temple of Augustus;
  • City Hall;
  • Government Palace;
  • the Gaudí-designed lanterns installed on King’s Square;
  • the Frederick Mares Museum exhibit;
  • Villa de Arte Gallery.

The sights of the Gothic Quarter do not end there. To see what is not included in the guidebooks describing the Gothic Quarter, it is worth going there with a personal guide.

Frederic Mares Museum

Frederic Mares Museum, Gothic Quarter (Barcelona)

Among the attractions of Barri Gotic, the Frederic Mares Museum, one of the most popular and famous in Barcelona, occupies a special place. It is located on the grounds of the Royal Garden and was founded in 1944 by Spanish sculptor Frederic Mares. That year he presented his collection of beautiful works of art to the public and donated it to the city.

Frederic Mares Museum in Barcelona

The museum’s collection is a collection of sculptures and a “collector’s study. One section occupies the first and second floors in the Palau Real wing of the Grand Royal Palace and features works of art such as statues, objects and reliefs in stone that predate the 19th century.

Frederic Mares Museum in Barcelona

The second section was the third and fourth floors. It includes everyday objects made between the 15th and 19th centuries.

“The Collector’s Cabinet” consists of seventeen rooms:

  • With items of clothing and fashion accessories for women, fans and costume jewelry.
  • With children’s puppet theaters, tin soldiers and various toys.
  • With cigarette cases and smoking pipes for smokers.
  • Handmade canes for men.
  • Ceramic and glass products.
  • With a collection of all kinds of watches.
  • Religious sculptures and colored wood crucifixes.
  • Household items and tools made of iron.
  • Vases made of seashells.
  • Photography Room.
  • With various medieval weapons.

In addition, here you can find theater posters, streetcar tickets and many different little things that were used by the Spaniards.

After visiting the museum you can relax in a cozy summer cafe, which is located nearby, in a shady quiet courtyard.

Jewish Quarter

Jewish Quarter in Barcelona, Spain

If you walk along Carrer del Call, the road leads to the Jewish quarter. This part of Barri Gotic was given to representatives of the large Jewish community, which at that time numbered up to five thousand, to live and set up their own business. Because of the lack of space, as the streets were too narrow, the houses were built tall. Until the early 15th century, only Jews settled here.

The Jewish Quarter in Barcelona

Gradually, with the approval of the Catalan government, there was an increase in the extortion, and sometimes even the defeat, of the inhabitants of this neighborhood. As a result, they had to leave their settled places. Today this place is used for selling antiques, souvenirs, and second-hand books.

St. James Square and Roman columns

Saint James Square - a landmark of the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona

To see another attraction of the Gothic Quarter, you have to get to the street “Carrer Ferran”. In the 1st century AD. In honor of the Emperor of Rome, Octavian Augustus, a temple was erected here, with four columns as supports. It was a decoration of the square where the Roman forum was located. Today it is difficult to see the Roman columns because they are almost fused with the walls of the house.

St. James Square in Barcelona, Spain

St. James Square in present-day Barcelona is the administrative center and the site of celebrations and festivities. There are two historic medieval buildings built in the Gothic style. One houses the Catalonian Parliament and the other the City Hall.

Grand Royal Palace

The Great Royal Palace in the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona

The Royal Residence is another object of Gothic architecture. The first mention of the palace dates back to 1116. The palace complex included three structures standing on their own.

  • The Throne Room or Salo del Tinel was built by King Peter IV in the 14th century.
  • King James II’s brainchild was St. Agatha’s Chapel (1302).
  • By decree of Charles V in 1549 began construction of the Viceroy’s palace. Today, it is the repository of archival materials of the powerful dynasty of the Kingdom of Aragon.

The great royal palace was the residence of the rulers until the 16th century. After that, the Inquisition was housed there, and in later times – the administration.

Pine Square

Pine Square in Barcelona, Spain

Since 1568, a pine tree has been planted in the center of Pi Square (square of pines in Catalan). And if it dies for some reason, it is replaced by a new one. This rule has been strictly observed since the time when a simple fisherman found the image of Our Lady in the branches of an evergreen tree.

The church of Santa Maria del Pi, with its unique octagonal bell tower, is the jewel of the square. Over the years it has undergone both the fires of the Civil War and earthquakes. But each time after the destruction, funds were allocated, and the church was rebuilt.

Itinerary of the Gothic Quarter

The tourist map shows not only the address of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona. The most famous sights are marked there, with a brief description and location.

Map of the Gothic Quarter (zoom in to see places of interest)

Traditionally, the tour begins with a tour of the ancient churches in the Cathedral Square, where the Portal de l’Àngel leads out. It takes a long time to see it, so then it is worth going to Plaza del Rei and complement the experience of the religious sites with a tour of the secular palaces. The next choice is between the government palace and the city council house.

There are also many interesting things on New Square, and the beauty of the trip is that all the sites are very close, so the walk will be solely on foot.

It’s worth taking a closer look at Casa de l’Ardiaca. Its appearance is a mix of several styles, and the most original element is considered to be the mailbox with an expressive emblem. On it are three swallows, symbolizing the independence of the judicial process and a tortoise crawling backward, alluding to the sluggish bureaucracy.

What to do in the Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter, Barcelona (Spain)

After the legs refuse to go further and the kaleidoscope of what you see flashes before your eyes, it’s time for a thoughtful rest at a table in a café or restaurant. In a calm, relaxing environment, impressions gradually begin to acquire clarity and depth. The magnificent Catalan cuisine creates a real feast of taste.

You should definitely give it a try:

  • Escudella d’Olla, which combines a rich soup and a vegetable stew;
  • Paella, made of rice with chicken, fish, and saffron as a flavorful condiment;
  • black rice with seafood do not let the unusual color scare you, its dish is given by cuttlefish ink, and it is included in the list of ingredients along with mussels, squid and tomato.

Gothic quarter took a fancy to the bohemians, and it happened in the 19th century. A confirmation of this was the pompous restaurant “4 cats”, in the design of the interiors of which Pablo Picasso took part.

Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

A stroll through the stores and galleries of an author’s work can take a long time. The Gothic Quarter awakens the imagination and supports talented sculptors and artists, inspiring them with amazing ideas. Some paintings and pieces of art can be purchased, while others can only be viewed and photographed with the author’s permission.

If you’re lucky enough to catch the Castellers Festival, which is all about making giant human towers without insurance, you’ll have to go back to the Gothic Quarter.

How to get to the Gothic Quarter

It’s not profitable to live in the neighborhood itself. Prices are just cosmic, and there is no peace of mind and is not expected. An abundance of entertainment venues with a night schedule will not let you sleep until morning. It’s much more convenient to come here in the afternoon for a tour. The Gothic Quarter area does not boast a metro station, but four of them are very close. A good option would be a cab.

Must be considered! Most of the streets of the block are pedestrian, cars are not allowed to enter.

There is public transportation on La Rambla Boulevard. The name of the bus stop is Gothic Quarter.

The trip will leave an amazing impression and a sense of belonging to the history of the ancient city.

Video overview of the Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter has its own special life. And every tourist who comes here is immersed in it. For a complete immersion, it is better to book a tour. Be sure to visit the local library, walk around George Orwell Square, where the local youth love to gather. Both the quiet roof garden and the atmospheric street lit by chandeliers will leave a lasting impression. Try to pay attention not only to the historical facts, but also to the details of this unusual neighborhood. And then you will definitely want to come back here again.

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