Gothic Quarter

Barri Gòtic

Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is the heart of the city, the place where it was founded, its most ancient part. It starts from Plaça Nova with La Rambla and Laietana street setting its limits from two sides. The majority of historical sites are concentrated round Barcelona Cathedral in Carrer del Bisbe and Carrer dels Comtes. It was not so long ago that the neighborhood became known as the Gothic Quarter – in the early 20th century. Only since the 1920s this name has turned into the official designation. The quarter is one of the most well preserved ensembles of the medieval architecture in Europe, which is why it is so well-known and popular. The dominance of this architectural style can be explained by the fact that starting from the 16th century the city development saw a gradual decline, so the Renaissance construction sites were extremely rare. Until the middle of the 19th century Barcelona was practically confined to the Gothic Quarter with its medieval walls surrounding the city. Only after they were demolished could the city expand beyond its historical limits and commence the incorporation of the suburbs.

It seems that the time itself stops in the Gothic Quarter, here you find yourself between the 14th and 15th centuries (which is when the majority of its buildings were erected). You also can come across some even more ancient monuments, such as the Roman Temple of Augustus and the remains of the walls. As for the most outstanding medieval constructions, take a look at the greatest masterpieces of the Catalan Gothic such as Barcelona Cathedral, the church of Santa Maria del Pi, Grand Royal Palace, which combines several architectural eras. Somewhat eclectic but no less amazing are Casa de l'Ardiaca, Bishop's Palace, Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government office) connected to the Casa de les Canonges by the famous decorated bridge. The churches of Sant Felip Neri (Gaudi’s favorite temple) and that of Sants Just i Pastor are simply charming.

Several emblematic museums are located in the quarter: the Museum of the History of Barcelona, Diocesan Museum, Frederic Mares. But even all these jewels do not set the lim it to the treasury of this quarter where narrow, often curved and dim streets, which hide the Jewish district, meet splendidly sunlit squares, such as Plaça de Sant Jaume, that is situated over the ancient Roman forum, Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, Pla de la Seu (Cathedral Square) always crowded with tourists and small Plaça Villa de Madrid, where you can see the excavations of an accidently found Roman cemetery.

You can spend a whole day in the Gothic Quarter just rambling around gazing at these ancient buildings, enjoying its unique atmosphere of the "stone architecture" (to feel it more exclusively it is better to come early in the morning when there are fewer people in the streets), or directly visiting its impressive temples, museums and palaces. If you are willing to get to know Barcelona, it is so much better to start from this quarter, for it is the city’s birthplace.

How to reach: metro Catalunya, Jaume I, Liceu
Coordinates: 41.383434, 2.178077