Gothic Quarter of Barcelona

The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, or Barri Gòtic in Catalan, is one of the four neighborhoods that make up the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona. Bordered by the Port to the south, La Rambla to the west and Plaza de Cataluña to the northeast, it is one of the most emblematic areas of Barcelona.

With its narrow streets and centuries-old buildings, the historic center of the city is an architectural jewel. It is a living testimony to the city’s rich cultural heritage. Consequently, it attracts millions of tourists every year.

Gothic, yes, but not quite

While the Gothic Quarter was Gothic for a significant period of its history, historians remind us that many of the monuments we see today are actually neo-Gothic. Many of the buildings date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For example, the main facade of Barcelona Cathedral was completed in 1913.

In any case, the unique charm of today’s Gothic Quarter is undeniable. Explore it for yourself by visiting some of these 12 must-see places during your trip to Barcelona. Let’s get started:

What to see in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona

1. Plaza Sant Jaume: Historical and Political Center

First of all, Plaza Sant Jaume. This is the historical and political epicenter of the city. The City Hall and the Generalitat de Catalunya surround this square. Plaza Sant Jaume actively breathes history, having witnessed key events in Barcelona’s past. Take time to explore the Pati del Tronjers or the Patio de los Naranjos of the Generalitat de Catalunya building.

Continuing towards the Cathedral from Plaza Sant Jaume, you will cross El Pont del Bisbe or the Bishop’s Bridge. This structure was designed by architect Joan Rubió Bellver and built in 1928. It stands as one of the most emblematic postcards of the Gothic Quarter. It also stands as one of the most photographed streets in Barcelona.

2. The Call: Jewish History in the Gothic Quarter

Call Street serves as the gateway to the Jewish quarter. The Jewish community lived there until the end of the 15th century, when it was expelled by the Catholic Monarchs. The narrow alleys transport you to a bygone era. Here you will find traces of the history of the Jewish community.

Of the glorious Call de Barcelona only a few houses remain standing. The Major Synagogue is the only standing structure of the two synagogues built in the Call.

3. Barcelona Cathedral: an architectural marvel.

Next, visit the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia. The Cathedral was begun in 1298. Inside it houses 13 white geese. They symbolize the age of the patron saint of Barcelona when she was crucified in 304 AD. The impressive Gothic spires and the impressive interior transport you back in time. The current facade was erected on the occasion of the Universal Exposition of Barcelona in 1888. The entrance fee is 9 euros and includes access to the roof.

Don’t miss the Mercat Gòtic which is held outdoors every Thursday. This interesting antique market is ideal for a morning stroll.

Los arcos del Palacio Real en la Plaza del Rey en el Barrio Gótico de Barcelona

4. Plaça del Rei: the center of power in medieval Barcelona.

After a short walk from the Cathedral, you will find the Plaça del Rei, or King’s Square. This secluded square is located in front of the former residence of the Counts of Barcelona, the Palau Reial Maior. In addition, it was built next to the original Roman walls that bordered the city. Remains of the walls can still be seen in its foundations. The square houses the tower of Rei Martí and the Royal Chapel of Santa Àgata, among other architectural gems.

5. Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi: charm all over the place

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi was built in the 14th century. It consists of a single nave 54 meters long and 16.50 meters wide. Inside it has an impressive crypt, a vast collection of Catalan gold and silverware, a beautiful garden, a bell tower and a valuable historical exhibition. In addition, its ribbed vault roof is among the most spacious in Spain and its rose window is the largest in Catalonia.

Plaça del Pi is one of the most picturesque places in the Gothic Quarter. It is often frequented by painters and artisans who exhibit their work.

6. Las Ramblas: vibrant heart of the city

Next, take a stroll along Las Ramblas, the bustling heart of the Gothic Quarter. This iconic boulevard is lined with street performers, diverse stores and, most importantly, lots of people.

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At the bottom of Las Ramblas is a historic building from the end of the 19th century. Here you will find one of the oldest and most significant wax museums in the world: the Barcelona Wax Museum. It opened in 1983 and offers a selection of more than 200 wax figures of famous and historical personalities. The entrance fee is 15€ for adults and 9€ for children from 5 to 11 years old.

From there you can walk towards the sea where you will reach the Plaza del Portal de la Paz. Here you can visit the famous Columbus Monument. The monument was built in 1888 on the occasion of the Universal Exposition of Barcelona.

Then continue along the Paseo de Colón. This beautiful promenade with palm trees leads to the harbor with its many luxury sailing ships.

7. Plaza Reial: nightlife charm

As night falls, head to the Plaza Reial to experience the nocturnal charm of the Gothic Quarter. With its palm trees, modernist lampposts and lively bars, this square invites you to enjoy the nightlife. It was built between 1848 and 1860 in honor of King Ferdinand VII. It stands on the land once occupied by the former convent of Santa Madrona.

8. Portal del Angel

Portal de l’Angel is one of the entry points to the Gothic Quarter from Plaça Catalunya and one of Barcelona’s main shopping streets.

What is now the most expensive shopping street in Spain was once the Portal dels Orbs, the Blind Door, one of the entrances to the city walls built during the 12th century.

9. Art galleries on Petritxol Street

Art lovers should not miss the art galleries on Carrer Petritxol. Carrer Petritxol is a narrow street that probably has one of the highest concentrations of art galleries per square meter in the world. The most recognized is La Sala Parés, the oldest art gallery in Barcelona. Afterwards, take the opportunity to recharge your batteries with a delicious “suizo” (hot chocolate with whipped cream) in one of its chocolate shops.

El Born: Fusion of History and Modernity

El Born is located between the Gothic Quarter and Ciutadella. It is a cosmopolitan neighborhood that attracts both tourists and locals with its stores, restaurants, culture and history. Its streets form a real labyrinth and getting lost in them is the best thing that can happen if you are visiting Barcelona.

While many streets have a special charm, the arcaded galleries of Paseo Picasso, La Rambleta del Born (Passeig del Born) and Calle Argenteria deserve special attention.

In addition, Calle Montcada, with its art galleries, museums, restaurants and boutiques, is a must-see on your tour of El Born.

10. Palau de la Música Catalana: a jewel of Catalan modernism.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, this impressive modernist building stands as one of the most visited places in the whole city. It is not simply an architectural landmark, it is a place where music comes to life. Moreover, attending a concert here guarantees an unforgettable experience.

Designed by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the Palau de la Música Catalana was built in the early 20th century (between 1905 and 1908) as the headquarters of the Orfeó Català. It is noteworthy that it remains one of the most emblematic works of Catalan modernism. Explore it independently with an audio guide for only 10€.

11. Picasso Museum – Artistic treasure of the Gothic Quarter

The Picasso Museum houses a unique collection of works by the Spanish genius. Inaugurated in 1963, it has 4,251 pieces that cover the career of the great artist.

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12. Santa Maria del Mar – Gothic Majesty

An impressive church with impressive architecture, commonly known as the Cathedral of the Sea. Despite its somewhat austere exterior, this basilica, built between 1329 and 1383, reveals an authentic Catalan Gothic jewel inside that is sure to captivate you.

Charming Hostels and Restaurants

The Gothic Quarter has a high demand for accommodation in Barcelona. From luxurious options to less glamorous pensions, all categories of accommodation are available here. However, being in the center of the city comes at a cost and none of them will be particularly cheap.

While the touristy nature of the Gothic Quarter results in many establishments lacking essence, you can still discover hidden culinary gems in its streets to enjoy a delicious menu or tapas experience. Notable mentions include:

– La Plata (Carrer de la Mercè, 28), open since 1945, is a genuine locale with a menu of only five quality tapas.
– Cal Pep (C/ Plaça de les Olles, 8), where tapas rotate weekly offering a fresh and dynamic experience.
– La Casa del Molinero (Carrer de la Mercè, 13), a historic bar located in a mill with more than 200 years of history, which surprises for its homemade tapas, especially grandmother’s recipes and sausages.
– El Babia (Carrer dels Sagristans, 9), known for its regular offer of beers and tapas, being its potatoes with mojo picón an exceptional option.
– The restaurant La Lluna, which offers a well prepared and tasty menu of the day for 16.95€, quite economical for the Gothic Quarter.
Activities and cultural events in the Gothic Quarter

From street festivals to art exhibitions, there is always something exciting going on in these historic streets. In addition, museums in the Born neighborhood include the MEAM (Museu Europeu d’Art Modern), the Museu de Cultures del Món, the Museu de la Xocolata, the Barbier-Mueller Museum and the Disseny Hub Barcelona (DHUB), which occupies the former museums of Decoration and Textile Arts, as well as numerous art galleries throughout the neighborhood.

Immerse yourself in the magic of the Gothic Quarter

In conclusion, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is more than just a collection of ancient streets. It is a journey through time, a sensory experience that captures the essence of the city. Immerse yourself in the magic of its monuments, the authenticity of its streets and the richness of its culture. Explore it on your own or, for a different and more fun experience, join one of our gastronomic group tours of the Gothic Quarter (up to 12 people). Your guide will share fascinating stories and you will taste the best tapas in Barcelona.

If you want to visit Barcelona and know all its secrets in the company of a specialized guide do not miss our day trips.
Since 2015 we organize guided tours in Barcelona, in small groups and private tours to visit without queues or waste of time the most important places in Barcelona.

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