Between Las Ramblas and the Passeig de Picasso lies one of Barcelona’s most famous areas: Barri Gotic, the Gothic Quarter. Its fame is well deserved. For, here, visitors can find streets and buildings from the Middle Ages that will provide hours of fascinating exploration. There are small winding alleyways where tourists can find all manner of Gothic-era buildings, shops housed in centuries-old structures, cafes, and much more.
Arrayed around Placa de Sant Jaume Square are some of the most fascinating examples of medieval architecture in Europe. Just down the street is the Town Hall (l’Ajuntament), built in the 15th century. Next to it is the Parlament de Catalunya where the Catalan parliament holds its sessions. Facing it is the magnificent Palau de la Generalitat. Down Madoz, walkers can find the Palau Reial where a flea market is held on Sunday.
Walk along the Carrer del Bisbe Irurita and you’ll come to the entrance of one of the most magnificent churches in Europe, the soaring cathedral, La Seu. This 14th-century structure has been updated periodically since its founding and now sports a stellar 19th-century faux-Gothic facade.
Lovers of religious architecture will not want to miss standing in the Placa de la Seu outside for a good view. After that, visitors can enjoy a fine Spanish coffee or tapas while they continue to explore the buildings and many ornaments from a comfortable seat.
Even the smaller churches are well worth a look. The Iglesia de Santa Maria del Pi is an example that continues to attract visitors by the score every summer. There are even small hotels to stay at in the area for those who want to make the Barri Gotic home base in Barcelona.
And there are sections that are still older. Barcelona is an ancient Roman city dating back 2,000 years. There are remnants of that beginning still extant in modern Barcelona. Roman walls, stone streets, and other elements betray the leftover Roman influence of the ancient city of Barcino here. At the Casa de l’Ardiaca, it is possible to see remnants of a Roman aqueduct.
Yet there are many modern sights to see as well in this area filled with historic buildings, enclaves, and roads. The Els Quatre Gats is still in business, serving customers today as it once served Pablo Picasso. Not far away is the El Museo Picasso filled with the artist’s works.
There are even examples of new architecture done in a much older style. The Bridge of Sighs hangs over one street between two buildings. Though built in the 1920s, it resembles its much older cousin in Venice from which it was copied. With its intricate stone railings and arches, it will provide architecture lovers with much to study.
Shoppers will find many worthwhile sights, too. There are shops galore along Carrer de Ferran. They’re filled with bargains that any tourist will want to explore. Lace, handicrafts, clothing, and much more adorn walls that have seen many generations come and go.
In the public square, those who enjoy street performers can find an outstanding example in the weekly Sardana Dance performances given here. After applauding and donating a euro, wander over to one of the many cafes and have a cool Cerveza. Later in the evening explore the numerous nightclubs dotting the Barri Gotic.
In Barcelona, old and new get along quite nicely.