4 Surprises of the Barri Gotic
The Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter, is at the heart of Barcelona’s old city – just a few minutes walk from the Barcelona hostel & hotel. Thanks to traditional medieval and Roman architecture and a fully pedestrianised zone, the quarter boasts a completely different experience to explore compared to the rest of Barcelona’s bustling streets.
Many people visiting the Barri Gotic come for the nightlife and endless array of boutiques and markets. There is much more to be seen in the old quarter though for those looking to explore the culture, history, and quirks within.
Although the Roman grid streets can still be seen, much of the quarter follows the medieval construction style. Short, narrow passages and streets designed for easily defending the city against invaders can be seen, and because of this the Barri Gotic can appear to be a veritable labyrinth to newcomers.
Take an afternoon to immerse yourself among the winding roads and architecture, taking the time to wander and soak up the feel of the old city and explore everything it has to offer. If time is short or you just want to try something different, consider travelling by bicycle around Las Ramblas to get the most out of the area, just make sure you take a map!
Flock to the City’s Cathedrals
Some of Barcelona’s best-known landmarks are churches and the Barri Gotic is no exception. The quarter hosts many churches in the Gothic design, each one offering an architectural specimen that is beautifully preserved and a real insight into the religious inspiration of medieval Spain.
Among the Barri Gotic you can find the Barcelona Cathedral, or the Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia, one of the most magnificent buildings of the city. Venture inside the cathedral to find a permanent host of thirteen white geese in a central courtyard, a tradition dating back from Roman times and kept to this day to honour the Cathedral’s patron saint.
As the quarter dates back to the city’s first founding, it houses some of the most important historical sites in Barcelona. For art-lovers, the Picasso museum and gallery offers tours and viewings of the artist’s works, including many pieces never exhibited in other galleries.
For a real taste of history however, the Museu d’Historia de la Ciutat is the main attraction; set in the old Royal Palace and overlooking the Placa del Rei (where the accused were tried during the Spanish Inquisition). The museum now tells the city’s ancient history, including an on-site excavation allowing you to walk around the old Roman remains. The museum also allows you to stand in the hall where Christopher Columbus gave his report to King Ferdinand about the discovery of the New World, and is a definite must for an insight into old Barcelona.
Dancing in the Streets
The Barri Gotic is rightly famous for its streets full of tapas restaurants, wine bars and cafes, but the real life of the quarter spills out onto the streets; all throughout the day you’ll find yourself surrounded by music and dancing, with a plethora of different performers of a quality not often found in the open air. Enjoy the culture as you explore the streets, but keep your eyes open in the plazas for when the festivities slowly culminate with the locals forming a ring to perform a Sardana. This is a traditional Catalan ring dance usually performed on Sundays and don’t be surprised when you get invited to join in the fun!