Barcelona's Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is one of the four neighborhoods of Ciutat Vella, the old town of Barcelona. It has undergone many changes over time, resulting in contrasts which allow to find XX th century sculptures next to buildings of the century X.
This is the historic center of the city and its streets lives wide commercial activity, what you will see by the large number of people and the number of shops and commerce that you will find. This fact should be taken into account, to avoid visiting the neighborhood on a holiday, though not many a year, at least try to make your visit not on a Sunday.
From HappyBarcelona.eu we will try to make you a description of this area of the old town, which undoubtedly should be on any list of essential visits to do in Barcelona.
Sightseeing in the Gothic Quarter
It is an area of the city that invites you to walk in order to enjoy their commerce, its architecture and atmosphere that permeates the streets.
If you want to discover Barcelona, you'll have to discover the Gothic Quarter, and to do that, you will have to spend a long afternoon at least, and we can almost assure you, you'll think about returning.
Visiting the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona involves, besides the usual attractions such as the cathedral or the St. James Square, to leisurely stroll around shopping streets and discover its environment.
Roman and medieval Barcelona
Delving into the historic center of a city like Barcelona, allows you to discover the remains of the ancient Barcino founded by the Romans two thousand years ago and became one of Europe's most splendid cities in medieval times.
It is in the Gothic Quarter, therefore, where you can visit the main archaeological site that lets you discover the history of the city of Barcelona.
Delimiting the Gothic Quarter
First, we will localize the Gothic Quarter inside the Old Town, and the simplest way to do this, is from Plaça de Catalunya, since it is the point from which this gorgeous Barcelona neighborhood begins.
Located in the center of the square and facing south, at the bottom and to the right there is the Rambla, a street you should visit without excuses. The Gothic Quarter is everything along the Rambla always on its eastern side, that is, if you're going down, on the side on the left.
If you locate again in the center of Plaça de Catalunya, a little further east, behind the building of the Corte Ingles is the Urquinaona square. From this square goes Via Laietana, and the Gothic Quarter is located on the west side along the entire street.
Both streets, the Rambla and Via Laietana, are perpendicular to the sea, and from east to west delimit the Gothic Quarter, reaching the Mediterranean Sea, at the other end of the Gothic Quarter where the old port of Barcelona, the Port Vell, is.
Main streets of the Gothic Quarter
Any street of the old town you decide to walk around, will be worth, either by its commerce, by the architecture or for a simple stroll.
HappyBarcelona.eu will try to enumerate those streets that are from their opinion, the most important, and should be seriously taken into account for your visit to Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, the authentic historical center of the city.
The streets of this historic area of Barcelona, invite you to stroll without clear direction to discover its charms, to be hypnotized by musicians playing in the surroundings of the cathedral and to immerse themselves in the atmosphere, a mixture of foreign and local people.
Portal de l’Angel
It is the main entrance to the Gothic Quarter from Plaça de Catalunya and possibly one of its busiest streets.
Portal de l’Angel is very rich in commerce and from this semi-pedestrian avenue you will easily get to many of the main streets of the Gothic Quarter.
Starting from this avenue may be the easiest way to discover this neighborhood from Ciutat Vella for the first time.
Santa Anna street
It is the first street you'll find on the right side, going down Portal de l’Angel. The street is a must, which leads at its other end to the Barcelona Rambla.
In addition to abundant commerce, in this street there is a gate that takes you to the Church of Santa Anna, a former monastery of Gothic architecture, which today remains its beautiful church and its cloister, that can be visited.
It is the second street on the right, down Portal de l’Angel. The Canuda street has at its other end also the Rambla and converges on that side with Santa Anna street.
It is also a must and you should not miss it during your walks through this old part of Barcelona, especially on business hours.
Down Portal de l’Angel, the first on the left is Comtal street. It is a very commercial street and at its other end leads to Via Laietana.
You should also take it into account for your walks around the historic center of Barcelona.
It is another street that you should include in your stroll through Ciutat Vella. In its western end, there is the Rambla, whereas in the eastern side is the Cucurulla square and a little further, the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia of Barcelona.
You will get to Portaferrissa street if you go down by Portal del Angel and take the fork to the right.
Pine street (Carrer del Pi)
Better known for its name in Catalan, Carrer del Pi, it is as commercial as the previous ones and takes you to the Pi square, where the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi is.
Pine square (Plaça del Pi)
This is the square where the basilica located is, and several days a week you will see in front of the main door of the temple, a small market of artisan foods such as cheese, honey and sausages.
In the Pine square you will also find several bars and terraces to take some coffee or soda, and much commerce of all kinds. We recommend you to absolutely keep in mind the Pi square and surroundings for your walks, because it is a really lovely area of the Gothic Quarter.
It's a small and quite charming street in the Gothic Quarter. It is parallel to the Pine street, and like that, communicates the Pine square with Portaferrissa St.
Carrer del Bisbe
In Catalan it means Bishop street and it is situated on the west side of the cathedral. It leads to the St. James square (Plaça Sant Jaume) where the City Council is.
If you walk down this street, you will pass under a highly photographed flamboyant Gothic style bridge.
At the north end of the Bisbe street is the cathedral whereas its southern end leads to the Saint James Square.
Halfway up, at the height of the Garriga and Bachs square, you can enter into the cathedral cloister, accessed from a doorway.
In the Escudellers street, that you can get from the Rambla at the height of the Theatre Square, you will find many restaurants and places for tapas.
George Orwell square
At the end of the Escudellers street is located the square dedicated to the famous British writer who lived for a time in the city of Barcelona.
The Ferran street
The Ferran street is the one that starts from the southwest of Sant Jaume Square and leads to the Ramblas.
It is a street with a strong commercial activity, which also hosts restaurants, places to take some drink and Irish pub style bars.
On the Ferran street, relatively close to the Rambla, there is a porch leading to the Plaça Reial (Royal square).
What to visit in the Gothic Quarter
Besides the charm of its streets, the Gothic Quarter provides a great heritage to the city.
On your visit, you should consider certain points of this part of the old town and therefore try to make a small list of the main places you should include in your tour of this part of Ciutat Vella.
It is the great square that you will see going down by Portal del Angel and taking the left fork. You will recognize it because it is the square where the Barcelona Cathedral is.
At Christmas time there takes place the famous Santa Llúcia market.
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia
It is the Gothic cathedral of Barcelona and you can get to it going down Portal del Angel and taking the fork to the left.
It is a must without doubt. If you visit the cloister of the cathedral, there is a door through which you can go outside to the Bisbe street.
The Cloister of the Cathedral
Regardless of whether or not you have visited the cathedral, you should take a walk around its cloister.
You can access the cloister of the cathedral through a door leading to the Bisbe street and visit the home of the 13 white geese of Santa Eulalia.
It is the building that is right in front of the Cathedral and was built using part of the Roman wall that can be seen from the inner courtyard on the ground floor.
This building houses the Historical Archives of Barcelona, and was rebuilt in the fifteenth century in a Gothic style with Renaissance elements.
The Royal Square
It is one of the largest squares in the Gothic Quarter and it used to be accessed from the Rambla or from the Ferran street.
Its commercial establishments are basically leisure, so you will find bars, restaurants and some discos. It is a place frequented by young people at night.
The Royal Square has a water fountain called the Fountain of the Three Graces and around it, rises some lampposts that were designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. These lamps were one of the first orders received by the Catalan architect.
Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi
It is in the Plaça del Pi (Pine square) and is a really beautiful church, which has enabled to go up to its bell tower and to visit its garden, offering also different guided tours.
Outside the times of these visits the entrance to the basilica is free.
Plaça del Rei (The King’s Square)
It should not be confused with the Royal Square. You will find the Plaça del Rei by taking the street at the northwest of the square where the metro Jaume I is. Its surroundings are streets of this historic center where you should afford to have a walk, as they are extremely full of commercial life.
In the Plaça del Rei is located the Palau Reial Major (Major Royal Palace) and the headquarters of the Barcelona City History Museum (MUHBA) with a huge archaeological site, another visit you should contemplate if you spend few days in Barcelona.
Barcelona City History Museum (MUHBA)
The MUHBA is a museum that has distributed through the geography of Barcelona, different centers in which the history of the city is exposed.
In the center of the Plaça del Rei, in addition to obtain information about the other centers of the MUHBA, many of them in the Gothic and Ciutat Vella district, you will have the opportunity to visit an archaeological site impressively large belonging to different periods of Barcelona from the first century BC.
This site belonging to the History Museum is located in the subsoil of the square and you will have to enter by the headquarters of the MUHBA for a visit.
The visit to this archaeological site of Barcelona could be considered as a must. Remember that you can access to the centers of the MUHBA with Barcelona Card and the ARQUEO Ticket saving money and time. We recommend you to take a look at them.
Palau Reial Major (Major Royal Palace)
At the center of the Gothic Quarter, in Plaça del Rei is located the Major Royal Palace. The former residence of the earls, which is currently used by the Barcelona City History Museum, where you can visit the St. Agatha Chapel, and exhibitions in the Tinell Hall through the MUHBA.
Sant Felip Neri Church
In the Sant Felip Neri Square is located this Baroque church that still keeps the scars of shrapnel from the Spanish Civil War.
A sad memory of the aerial bombardment of 1936 in which 42 people who were hidden in the basement of the old convent, including many children, died.
St. James Square (Plaça de Sant Jaume)
The Barcelona City Council has its headquarters in this huge square as well as the Catalan Government Palace (Palau de la Generalitat), two imposing Gothic buildings facing each other, constituting the political epicenter of the Gothic Quarter.
It is a Square of great dimensions, which you can access from the Bisbe street if you come from the cathedral, from the Ferrán street if you do it from the Rambla, or if you come from Via Laietana you can get to it through Jaume I street, to mention the three mostly common.
The Jewish Quarter
Better known by its name in Catalan, el Call, where you can visit one of the oldest synagogues in Europe, the Old Synagogue of Barcelona.
The Jewish Quarter invites you to discover how this community lived in Barcelona, through the MUHBA in its center dedicated to the Jewish community.
Remains of the Temple of Augustus
Among the facilities of the Catalonia Hiking Centre, whose seat in Barcelona is located in the Gothic Quarter, you will have the opportunity to visit 4 original columns of the Temple of Augustus, built for the worship of Caesar Augustus, in what once was Barcino, the city of Barcelona predecessor.
You can access to visit these columns through a street that leads to the St. Jaimes Square.
Frederic Marès Museum
This museum exhibits the collection of pieces result of a donation from Frederic Marès Deulovol, an important Catalan sculptor. This museum is housed in a wing of the Royal Palace.
If you are strolling through the Gothic Quarter and you fancy a nice quiet coffee in the interiors of the palace courtyard, you will find a pleasant cafe where you can have a drink or a coffee far from the tumult of the people.
Els Quatre Gats
It is a cafe - restaurant, located in the Martí House, of neo-Gothic architecture and during the years that remained active, it was a meeting place for illustrious people like Antoni Gaudí, Rusiñol, Albéniz and Pablo Picasso. The latter made his first solo exhibition, in this place, reopened in the 70s with the same name but by different owners.
Ramon Berenguer III Square
The equestrian statue of Ramon Berenguer III presides over an emblematic square of the Gothic Quarter, which retains an important part of the Roman city wall.
You'll get it, going down Via Laietana at the right hand side. At that point and on the other side of the wall there is located the Major Royal Palace and the King’s Square.
Post and Telegraph building
Just where Via Laietana ends, specifically in the Antonio López square, was finished in 1929 the construction of the monumental building of Posts and Telegraphs of Barcelona.
In the front side of the building, they highlight four female figures holding objects representing different areas of the postal service.
The Port Vell (The Old Port)
In the far south of Ciutat Vella, and in harmony with the Mediterranean Sea, is located the Port Vell. This is the old port of Barcelona, place that belongs to the Gothic Quarter.
Crossing the Rambla del Mar bridge, you will arrive at the Spain Wharf (Moll d’Espanya), which is the great recreational area where there are among other places the Maremagnum mall, the Imax 3D cinemas and the Barcelona Aquarium with its sharks. Although it is the newest area of the port, we strongly recommend that you consider it for your walks.
The Bosch i Alsina wharf (El Moll de la Fusta)
Although Bosch i Alsina is its official name, it is known popularly as the Moll de la Fusta. It is the dock of the Gothic Quarter and invites you to take relaxing walks on the seafront, in a quiet port of sports boats.
It can not be missed on your trip if you are spending a few days in the city.
How to get to the Gothic Quarter
It is very easy to get to this area of the Ciutat Vella district.
As usual, we recommend you to start your journey from Catalonia Square. You can arrive there by the L1 and L3 metro lines, several lines of RENFE trains or several lines of the FGC (Catalan Government Railways).
From the square, just situate yourself facing south and in front of you will be the Portal de l’Angel avenue, which is the main road entering into the Gothic Quarter.
If you prefer, you can also get to the Rambla in the southwest of the square. Having reached this Barcelona touristic street, any given street you take to the east, will be part of the Gothic Quarter.
Getting to the Gothic Quarter from University Square
If you are in University Square, we recommend you a stroll down the street Pelayo until you get to Catalonia Square. It will take you less than 10 minutes, if you do not entertain yourself with storefronts, as it is a main shopping street in the city center. Then you have to follow the instructions described in the previous paragraph.
How to get to the Gothic Quarter from Urquinaona square
In Urquinaona square, there is the subway stop of the L1 and L4 lines, and it is an excellent starting point to visit this wonderful neighborhood of the old district of Barcelona.
Although you can always walk to Plaça de Catalunya, which is westwards walking less than five minutes, we recommend you to go down Via Laietana and take the first street to the right, which is the Comtal street, one of the most commercial of the Gothic Quarter.
Getting the Gothic Quarter from Sants Estacio
From Sants Estacio, you can take the L3 metro line, through which you can get off at the lower part of the Rambla (Drassanes), half height (Liceu) or on the top (Catalunya).
The eastern side all along this Barcelona street, belongs to the Gothic Quarter.
Other metro stations to get to the Gothic Quarter
Very close to the epicenter of this historical center, there is the L4 metro station named Jaume I, which is very close to the St James Square and the King’s Square.
In fact, this subway station is the only one that might physically be considered within the Gothic Quarter.
Getting the Gothic Quarter from Passeig de Gràcia
Halfway up this modernist street, you can take the L4 metro line and get off at Jaume I. However, HappyBarcelona.eu recommends you to take a walk to Catalonia Square and then continue walking to Portal de l’Angel avenue.
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