There are many different areas of Barcelona that one must visit when exploring the city: the trendy Born, the sunny Barceloneta and, of course, the historic Barri Gòtic. Here we give you some of the many highlights of the Gothic Quarter, one of Barcelona’s most interesting places for architecture, shopping and restaurants.
Situated in the heart of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter was once an old Roman village, and some of the ancient city walls still remain today. Stretching from Las Ramblas to Via Laietana, the beautiful medieval architecture of this area surrounds you as you walk down the narrow and winding streets. The Catedral de Barcelona, also known as Catedral La Seu, is one of the city’s most incredible structures, and can be found in the north of the Gothic area, in the Plà de la Seu. This breathtaking cathedral mixes Catalan Gothic architecture with a Renaissance twist, leaving you truly amazed at its arches and spires.
We recommend: taking the Carrer del Bisbe towards the cathedral square so you can experience the Gothic designs from all angles, including the impressive neo-Gothic bridge.
The Museu d´Historia de la Ciutat, (the City History Museum) can be found in the Plaça del Rei, or the King´s Square, a very popular location within the Gothic Quarter. This museum is unique due to its display of the underground ruins, which are said to rival those of Italy.
El Call is the Gothic district’s Jewish Quarter and is home to a maze of winding streets, some of which hold the oldest houses in the city. Remnants of the old synagogues also reside here including the Sinagoga Major de Barcelona, which is open to the public and said to be one of the oldest in Europe.
We recommend: Visiting El Museu de la Catedral in Plà de la Seu. This ancient chapterhouse has been turned into a museum, giving us an enthralling view of some of the art used in the Cathedral in the 15th Century, including works dedicated to one of the patron saints of Barcelona: Saint Eulàlia.
A trip to the Gothic Quarter would not be complete without a visit to some of its wonderful squares, including Plaça del Pi, Plaça Sant Jaume and the ever popular Plaça Reial. Located just off Las Ramblas, Plaça Reial is one of Barcelona´s most famous spots, not only for its daytime sights, but also for its nightlife. The main attractions of this square include the beautiful fountain, two decorated lampposts designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí as well as three popular nightclubs. There are also many bars and restaurants and in the Plaza that are simply too delicious to pass up!
We recommend: Lunch at Les Quinze Nits in Plaça Reial. This charming restaurant offers a variety of Spanish, Catalan and Mediterranean cuisine, and has a wonderful terrace where you can sit back and soak up the Barcelona atmosphere while enjoying some mouth-watering dishes.
One of the Gothic Quarter’s most alluring features its labyrinth-style streets where you can find something different around every corner. From the commercial stores on Portal de l’Àngel to the quirky boutiques on Carrer d’Avinyó, shopping in this Barcelona district is an exciting experience and you are sure to find something to suit your style. If you are looking for a token of your visit to Barcelona, Carrer de Ferran leads you all the way across the Gothic Quarter, presenting some of the most charming souvenir shops along the way.
We recommend: Stopping at La Manual Alpargatera on Carrer d’Avinyó. This espadrille shop has been hand-making and selling the typical Catalan shoes since the 1940s, including to famous customers such as Catherine Zeta-Jones.
5. Bars and restaurants
There are many fabulous bars, restaurants and bakeries in the Barri Gotic. A good example is Els Quatre Gats, located on Carrer de Montsió. Now one of the most famous restaurants in Barcelona, this was once one of Picasso´s favorite haunts in the city’s early modernist days. The artist held one of his first exhibitions here and today the eatery offers tasty tapas and a variety of Catalan meals.
On the other hand, El Bosc de les Fades gives you a completely different experience from the typical Barcelona inn. Fantastically decorated, the fairytale bar belongs to the nearby Wax Museum, and is essentially set up to convince you that you are enjoying your beverage in the middle of an enchanted forest. With trees, vines and twinkling lights, this fantasy tavern allows you to be transported into another world, right in the middle of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.
We recommend: Margarita Blue on Carrer de Josep Anselm Clave. This fantastic cocktail bar is located on a side street near the end of Las Ramblas and serves delicious cocktails and a mix of Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine.
Coming to Barcelona and want to explore the Gothic Quarter to its fullest? Rent one of the fully equipped Barcelona apartments in the Barri Gotic or a nearby Ramblas apartment in Barcelona and start your journey through the medieval winding streets the moment you step out of your front door.
Check out Apartment Barcelona’s video on the Gothic Quarter for a quick tour of this historic ‘barrio’.