The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, located in the historical center of the Catalan capital, is a unique place in which the greatest monuments of culture, architecture and art are concentrated. Sandwiched between La Rambla Avenue, Via Laetana and Plaza Catalunya, it is an intricate labyrinth of narrow, crooked streets, medieval buildings and Roman ruins. Barrio Gotico is currently on the list of the most visited urban sites. In addition, it is here that the local administration sits and the largest public events are held.
Sights of the quarter
The sights of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona have many interesting objects, impressive not only in their appearance, but also in an incredibly long history. We’ll get to know only 9 of them more closely.
The Cathedral, which is the most iconic monument of urban architecture, plays such an important role in the history of this place that the quarter itself can often be called Cathedral. The majestic building, built in honor of the great martyress Eupaly, impresses with its power and rich decoration. What are the towers, as if soaring in the sky, and the Gothic facade, decorated with graceful arches and sophisticated openwork ornaments. Another integral element of the Catedral de Barcelona are 13 white geese, symbolizing the age and integrity of a young Spanish girl who paid with her life for the Orthodox faith.
More information about the cathedral and its visit is presented on this page .
Among the most famous sights of the Gothic quarter can be attributed to St. Jacob’s Square, laid on the site of a huge ancient Roman forum and considered the main esplanade of Barcelona. The name of this place is associated with the Catholic Church of the same name, built in the Middle Ages and transferred to a neighboring street during the reconstruction of 1823. However, without it, Plaza de San Jaime will be something to please. In addition to modern cafes, restaurants and small offices, there are several architectural monuments, the most important of which are the City Hall and the Palace of the Government of Catalonia.
The first is a magnificent neo-Gothic building, the facade of which is decorated with numerous portals and small windows facing the courtyard. The main entrance to the city hall, which was originally called the “Council of a hundred,” is indicated by a relief arch, supplemented by the coat of arms of Barcelona and a sculptural image of the archangel Raphael. Currently, the ground floor of the Town Hall is occupied by the office of a well-known travel company, where you can get a free map of the city.
The Government House, built in the Renaissance style, designed by the famous Catalan architect, also looks like a city hall. The construction of the Palace, which started at the very beginning of the 15th century, lasted as long as 13 years and ended only in 1416. A reminder of those distant times is the equestrian sculpture of St. George, installed in the recess of the balcony, stucco molding of gilding that adorns the walls, and massive paintings with portraits of kings. Another feature of these buildings is a cozy patio, planted with many orange trees.
If you don’t know where Canon House is located on the map of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, look for the intersection of del Bisbe and de la Pietat. It is on it that this monumental Gothic building is located, the main feature of which is considered a rather unusual layout. Originally Casa Del Canonjes, built in the first half of the 11th century. on the foundation of a ruined ancient Roman structure, he served as a simple almshouse, that is, the place in which every urban beggar could get free clothes, an overnight stay and lunch. However, in 1450 the building was transferred to the local canon (a clergyman of one of the cathedrals), who for some reason refused his original purpose.
Not so long ago, Casa dels Canonges, whose facade is decorated with images of girls with baskets on their heads, underwent a large-scale restoration, which allowed to restore almost all fragments of the interior. Since then, the residence of the President of Catalonia has been located in one of the main attractions in Barcelona. The latter, apparently, has a good sense of humor: leaving home for personal or work matters, he always lowers the flag, and when he returns, he raises it again.
The Bridge of Sighs, which is also called the Lace Bridge or the Bridge of Kisses, can be safely called one of the most romantic sights of not only the Gothic Quarter, but of the whole of Barcelona. Built in 1926 according to the project of the famous modernist Joan Rubio, it is a covered decorative arch connecting the Cathedral with the Jacob Square.
The architectural elements of the Pont dels Sospirs, reminiscent of the famous Venetian lace, fit perfectly into the general style of Barrio Gotico and serve as a wonderful backdrop for travel photos. At the same time, huge gargoyles, which in ancient times were used as a drainage system, are especially popular with photographers.
It should also be noted that many myths are associated with the Bridge for kisses. According to one of them, everyone who joins hands with his other half, looks at the skull drawn inside the gate and makes a wish, can count on his fulfillment.
Despite its talking name, New Square, which appeared in the middle of the 14th century. on the outskirts of a small Roman settlement, is one of Barcelona’s oldest “buildings”. In its vicinity, you can still see the ruins of the entrance gate and the remains of aqueducts, located next to gloomy stone towers and several medieval buildings, the back walls of which are decorated with stylized images of smiling people.
Of particular interest are the Bishop’s Palace, made in the Baroque style, the College of Architects, on the huge friezes of which Pablo Picasso himself worked, and the house of the Archdeacon containing fragments of the ancient Roman fortress wall. At one time, this building served as the main church residence, and now serves as a repository for the city archive. During the last reconstruction, the house of Archdeacon was connected to a neighboring building. As a result of such a merger, Gothic and Renaissance mixed together, creating a beautiful, but a bit strange from an architectural point of view picture.
Once upon a time, an active slave trade was conducted on the Placa Nova, which has an unusual triangular shape. Today, every Thursday there is an antique market where you can find truly rare items.
Looking at the photos of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, one cannot fail to notice another important city attraction. We are talking about the Royal Square, founded in the late 19th century. and which is a favorite place for fairs, exhibitions, festivals and other public events. In addition to the luxurious neoclassical buildings surrounding Plaza Real on all 4 sides, there are a number of other interesting elements.
Among them is the elegant fountain “Three Graces”, installed almost 1.5 tbsp. back and being one of the best examples of Catalan romanticism, and several lamps, which became almost the first work of the young architect Antonio Gaudi. The lamps of each of these lamps support six dark red horns, and the tops are crowned by the helmet of the god Mercury, symbolizing the economic prosperity of the city.
In 1984, the Royal Square was turned into a pedestrian zone, along the perimeter of which hundreds of palm trees were planted. Now it is one of the greenest places in Barcelona, on the territory of which there are many cozy restaurants and cafes with open terraces – including the legendary Els Quatre Gats, which is popular among famous creative personalities. When drinking coffee in such an institution, think about how Plaza Real managed to witness many historical events over its centuries-old history. They say that during his first trip to America, Columbus himself was here.
The Museum of Erotica, located opposite the famous Boqueria Market, is one of Barcelona’s most controversial attractions. Having opened just over 20 years ago, he managed to acquire not only a huge number of erotic paintings, photographs, statues and various devices, but also an army of enemies who oppose such a “strawberry”.
All museum exhibits, and their number has long exceeded one thousand, are located in a certain sequence – from ancient to modern. In addition to products found in Spain, in the Museu Erotic de Barcelona collection you can find many items brought from Africa, Japan, India, Tibet, Greece, Russia and Polynesia. Among them, caricature engravings written by Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and other famous meters deserve special attention.
Well, the greatest interest of the public is caused by original sex toys, more like an instrument of the Inquisition than a source of pleasure, and a small cinema, demonstrating the first in the world, still black and white erotica. In general, everything that is in this museum should be looked at with a fair amount of humor, because the presentation of exhibits here is just that.
The neo-Gothic basilica of Sant Just i Pastor, built by order of Louis the Pious back in the middle of the 9th century, is one of the most ancient religious sights of Barcelona. Over the long years of its existence, it was rebuilt and restored more than once, therefore the facade and most of the surviving elements were completed much later – between the 14th and 19th centuries.
If the exterior of the Església des Sants Just i Pastor looks rather unassuming, then its interior decoration creates a feeling of grandeur and reverence. So, the chapel of the basilica, located between two pillars, is covered with beautiful relief images. The windows of the church are decorated with elaborate stained glass windows, and the main altar, surrounded by majestic marble columns, is the image of saints made by the best Portuguese artists. The chapel of St. Felix deserves no less attention, the main pride of which is the original sprinklers made in the form of Gothic capitals.
Among other things, it is worth noting the fact that the Basilica of Sant Just Just Pastor is the only church in Barcelona that retains the right to indulgence. This means that any desire of a person dying within its walls is subject to unquestioning fulfillment.
Familiarity with the main attractions of the Gothic Quarter completes the pedestrian street Portal de l’Angel, starting from the Cathedral and leading to the heart of the Old Town. This part of Barcelona is well known not only to lovers of historical values, but also to fans of fashion brands. The thing is that the Portal de l’Angel has a huge number of stores belonging to such world-famous brands as Mango, H&M, Zara, Stradivarius, Bershka, Benetton, etc. In addition, you can buy exclusive jewelry and cute trinkets made in the best traditions of national decorative and applied equipment.
And one more curious fact! In 2018, Portal de l’Angel once again confirmed the status of the most expensive street not only in Barcelona itself, but throughout Spain. According to data published by the Cushman & Wakefield real estate agency, the annual rental price for retail space at this location is 3360 €, which is as much as 120 € more than the nearest competitor, Madrid’s Preciados street.
Going to the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, arm yourself with recommendations based on numerous travel forums:
- Walking along the narrow historical streets, always be on the lookout – you just have to deviate a little from the recommended route and immediately run into drug dealers and companies of aggressive youth. By the way, for the same reason, you should not walk here at night – especially alone.
- Sightseeing Barrio Gotico is better with a professional guide. The shortest program is designed for 2.5 hours, during which you will learn a lot of interesting facts.
- Getting lost in the Gothic Quarter is very easy, so it’s best to always carry a card with you.
- There are quite a few pickpockets in this part of the city. For this reason, keep valuables in a safe place and do not get distracted by groups of suspicious passers-by trying to grab your attention.
- If you still need the help of law enforcement agencies, immediately go to the police station, because the “patrols” working on the streets may turn out to be regular scammers.
- To eat, drink coffee and go shopping, it is not necessary to go outside the Barrio Gotico. Being a popular tourist destination, it contains many restaurants, cafes, fashion boutiques representing famous world brands. In addition, there are several cool thematic institutions and expensive hotels on the territory of the quarter.
- Many other city attractions are located in the immediate vicinity of this place, so starting your acquaintance with Barcelona is from here.
- The easiest way to get to the Gothic Quarter is by metro – you need to use the Liceu and Jaume I lines.
All the sights of the Gothic Quarter and other areas of Barcelona described in the article are marked on the map in Russian
Barcelona public transport and a walk through the Gothic Quarter:
Posted by: Olga Sheyko