Come and check out the oldest, and possibly the most beautiful part of Barcelona!
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When in Barcelona, you can’t miss walking around the old streets and buildings that make up the Gothic Quarter. Don’t worry, you won’t bump into scary-looking goths in heavy make-up, dressed in black (damn, those are my kind of people!), instead you’ll stumble upon beautifully detailed structures, that have so much history attached to them. So be sure to spend at least a full day pursuing these streets, taking it all in. Oh, and bring a spare memory card for your camera, as trust me you’ll need it!
My husband Zac and I started our tour of this area by wandering up Via Laietana. Straight away, we noticed changes in the architecture of the surrounding buildings, almost as if we had walked straight into a different era. This is when we realised that we’d wandered into the Gothic Quarter (Barris Gothic), and it was truly beautiful. Walking around this part of town was one of the highlights of my trip to Barcelona. About halfway up the road, we came across a very medieval-style building that looked like part of an old castle, squashed between other buildings, which actually turned out to be the Barcelona History Museum (Museu D’Historia de Barcelona-MUHBA).
A couple of points to note. Firstly, the admission price is €7.00 per person; however, it’s free on Sundays after 3 PM, as are most museums in Barcelona. Secondly, if you visit before 3 PM on a Sunday, it’s at a reduced rate of €5.00 per person (or free if you have a Barcelona Card). So if you want to save some money, Sunday is the best day to go! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go inside as we were on our way to the Picasso Museum. I really wish we’d had time, as I love history, and this museum seems right up my street! There is a Roman excavation inside, which would be exciting to see, as it’s the largest excavated site outside of Rome. There have been many artifacts recovered from the site, and most of them now make for exciting displays held at this museum.
Placa Del Rei, Barcelona
After taking a left at the Avenue de la Catedral, we arrived at the beautiful Barcelona Cathedral (Catedral de Barcelona). There is a little square in front of the building, and it was absolutely packed with people! We were on a tight budget anyway, so we decided against paying the €9.00 admission fee when we’d already seen hundreds of cathedrals before this one. Sorry! We still got to admire the beautiful architecture from the outside. Construction first began on this Barcelonan icon in 1298 and took over 150-years to complete, so there are certainly many attractive elements to look at. Most notably would be the main door and the stunning archway above it. It is one of the finest I’ve ever seen. There is a star shape above the door, in a swirly pattern. Underneath this, you’ll see decorative stonework around the large wooden doors. On either side of the entrance are four priest statues, with some of the most incredible facial details I have ever seen. The one on the most inner left looks remarkably like Jesus, but I can’t be sure, as I’ve never met him personally.
We continued walking around and came upon the old Gothic Cloisters, which are free to enter. There are thirteen geese who reside here, and they are said to be the guardians of the cathedral. In the past, they were used to warn against possible intruders or thieves, as they would make lots of noise when people would approach them, alerting the priests. They use thirteen to honour Saint Eulalia, who was tortured and martyred by the Romans during the persecution of Christians in the city. She was subjected to thirteen different tortures, and she was only thirteen years old at the time. What a tragedy.
Despite being a small courtyard, it was definitely worth the slight detour, as not only did we get to see the geese looking so out of place roaming around on the surrounding brickwork, but the adjacent architecture really throws you back in time. A beautiful pond is home to some contrasting greenery and a small fountain, and the nearby buildings have some pretty stained-glass windows to gaze upon (or glaze upon, get it???). However, as it’s such a tiny area, and one of the only parts of the church that was free, it can get super busy.
Leaving the hectic crowds behind, we headed towards the Picasso Museum, which was around a 5-7 minute walk away. As we passed down a narrow side street by the cathedral, we decided to take a slight detour past The Old Roman Walls and Gates to see a section of the original aqueduct built around the 1-4 century AC!
We continued walking down O del Bisbe, and this is where you will come across a spot that is totally worthy of Instagram – Ponte del Bisbe (Bishops Bridge). When I first saw it on the cover of my Lonely Planet Pocket Guide for Barcelona, I instantly fell in love with it. The only problem was that I had no idea how to find it. All I knew was that it was in some place called the Gothic District, so when I stumbled across it during our trip, it really made my day. The bridge is surrounded by tall stone buildings, two of which it links together. Its medieval design makes it look like something taken straight out of Hogwarts. The wonderful detailing around the top and bottom of the bridge almost looks like tree branches if you view it from a distance. In fact, I loved gazing upon this gorgeous little bridge, even more so than I did the Cathedral. It’s just stunning.
We continued on route to the Picasso Museum when we found ourselves on the Carrer de la Princesa, where we came across the skinniest building we’d ever seen, leaving us scratching our heads as to how anyone could possibly live there! We decided to take the route down the tiny claustrophobic backstreets, as it was more interesting, before heading onto Carrer de Montcada, where we finally arrived at the Picasso Museum (Museo Picasso).
Thanks for reading my blog post today on the Gothic District in Barcelona. Despite having a very medieval appearance to many of it’s buildings, I still managed to spot some structures that looked very similar to those I’ve seen in Florence, Italy. With their renaissance-style facades, in soft earthy colours, they still looked like they belonged to the area, and fitted in quite well next to the more serious and darker castle-like structures. It really is a great area to throw away your map, and get lost for a few hours, and see what you’ll discover!
Have you visited the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona? What is your favourite thing to do while here? I’d love you to let me know in the comments section below.
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