The Barri Gotic in Barcelona exudes an atmosphere untouched by the passage of time. Almost every aspect of architecture in this ancient neighborhood makes one feel like they’ve stepped back in time to the Middle Ages. Amazingly small pedestrian alleyways reveal the wear and tear on their smoothed-down cobblestones, and imposing Gothic structures with exquisite façades have survived the test of time.
There are unexpected delights around every corner, from charming patios with tranquil fountains to quaint arcaded lanes. The classical Spanish guitar tunes of the street performers are best heard in the peaceful courtyards. The Gothic Quarter has a number of charming outdoor cafes and plazas where youngsters may play football in peace.
Even if the unique ambiance weren’t enough to entice you, the Gothic Quarter is loaded with exciting sights and activities. Start with the cathedral and take your time touring the other religious buildings and museums to really absorb the city’s rich history.
Top 11 attractions in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (Barri Gothic)
- The Cathedral of Barcelona (The Gothic Cathedral)
- Palau de la Generalitat
- Museu Picasso
- Plaça del Rei
- the Museum of History of Barcelona
- Plaça Reial
- Santa Maria del Pi
- Plaça Felip Neri
- Roman Temple of Augustus
- Plaça Sant Jaume
- Discover the Jewish Section of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona
1. The Cathedral of Barcelona (The Gothic Cathedral)
On the highest point of the Gothic Quarter, within a fascinating labyrinth of little ancient streets, lies this magnificent Gothic cathedral. The cathedral’s foundation was laid in the Romanesque era (the 13th century), it was completed in the Middle Ages, and its exterior was refurbished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Take in the impressive architecture, which includes an arched entranceway and several spires and buttresses. Enter this luminous and airy haven, and prepare to be inspired. Due to its location on the site of a former Paleo-Christian basilica, this cathedral has an interior design that is remarkable for a Gothic structure.
See the ancient graves in the crypt and the works of art by Spanish artists from the 15th and 16th centuries at the Museum of the Cathedral (below the gallery of the cloister). The Cloister’s Front Door and the Santa Luca Chapel are further noteworthy features.
2. Palau de la Generalitat
The Palau de la Generalitat, located on the northern side of the Plaça de Sant Jaume, is a relatively new edifice for the Gothic Quarter. This medieval palace, constructed between the 15th and 17th centuries, originally housed regional representatives. The Catalan regional government, the Generalitat de Catalunya, now occupies the structure, and it is one of Barcelona’s gothic quarter’s top attractions.
Plaça de Sant Jaume (also called Plaça de la Generalitat) is one of the most significant public spaces in Barcelona. City Hall and the palace of the Catalan government are both located in this area, making it the political center of Barcelona.
The City Hall is accessible to the public on Sunday mornings, and groups of people performing the Sardana (a traditional Catalan dance) or Castellers constructing human pyramids are common sights on the weekends.
3. Museu Picasso
The Picasso Museum is housed in a collection of ancient palaces constructed in Catalan Gothic architecture somewhere between the 13th and the 15th centuries and is located on one of the most atmospheric avenues in the Gothic Quarter. This museum is another one of the top attractions in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.
The museum features works of art from all of Picasso’s creative eras, including paintings, sketches, and prints (lithographs and etchings). The exhibition follows a linear narrative structure, tracing Picasso’s artistic evolution through the years.
The museum’s collection of Picasso’s early works is often regarded as the most significant of its kind in the world. Picasso’s early works, such as Man with a Beret (Hombre con Boina), Paisaje Montaoso (Mountain Landscape), and Retrato de la Madre del Artista (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother), are often regarded as among his finest.
El Passeig de Colom, depicting the balcony of a street in Barcelona; Las Meninas, a fascinating portrait of the five-year-old heir to the Spanish throne; and Los Pichones, depicting a flock of doves, are all highlights of the museum’s collection of Cubist paintings.
4. Plaça del Rei
One of the most picturesque plazas in the historic district of Barcelona is the Plaça del Rei. Its southern side provides access to the neighborhood’s winding alleyways and is bordered on all sides by magnificent medieval structures.
The Gothic Quarter’s Palau Reial Major (Royal Palace) can be found on Plaça del Rei, and it is a prime example of a medieval urban palace. While digging for the palace’s new foundations, archaeologists uncovered significant remnants of the ancient Roman town below.
The Museu d’Histria de la Ciutat (Urban History Museum) is located in the Casa Clariana Padellás, a 16th-century palace on the other side of the square. The excavation site is located in the museum’s basement. Parts of the Roman heating system, mosaic floors, wall fragments, and relics of the water and drainage systems await curious visitors.
5. The Museum of History of Barcelona
The Museu d’Histria de la Ciutat (MUHBA) provides a comprehensive overview of Barcelona’s history, from the Roman era to the present day, and it is one of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter’s best attractions. Once inside, you’ll realize why it’s so interesting: the museum has maintained the amazing excavations of Barcelona’s Roman streets.
Explore the stores, laundromats, and churches that locals frequented two millennia ago. Third-century AD winemaking techniques are also covered.
6. Plaça Reial
Although it is located within the Gothic Quarter, you will find this lovely plaza, which is enclosed by an arcade and lined with palm trees, as a smaller version of La Rambla.
The laid-back pace of the day contrasts with the hedonistic energy of the Barcelona nighttime, showing two sides of the same coin. It’s best to pick one period of the year and stick to it because the two are like different planets. But even if you only visit once, you should do it in order to cross it off your list. Make sure to visit this place as it is one of the best attractions in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.
7. Santa Maria del Pi
Santa Maria del Pi (Blessed Lady of the Pine Tree) Basilica, a stunning Gothic church with a fortress-like front, is another top attraction in Barcelona’s Gothic quarter. A huge rose window and a Madonna statue set in a pointed archway are the sole decorative features of the building’s facade.
The basic, one-aisle interior is adorned with chapels on either side and stained glass windows dating from the 15th to the 18th century.
The grave of Arnau Ferre, who perished in the Sicilian Siege of Catania in the 14th century, may be found next to the sacristy’s entrance. In addition to gold and silver antiquities, the treasury houses an impressive collection of religious artwork.
Daily Mass is said at the Basilica of Santa Maria del P. The basilica welcomes visitors on Fridays and Saturdays for both self-guided and group tours. After paying the entrance charge, visitors may explore the park, museum, and bell tower, from where they can take in stunning views of the Barcelona skyline.
8. Plaça Felip Neri
Plaça Sant Felip Neri is a little square in the heart of Barcelona that has a lovely appearance but a tragic past which makes it one of the top attractions in Barcelona’s gothic quarter.
In 1938, 42 individuals, mostly children who were playing in the square at the time, lost their lives when it was attacked. You can see the memorial honoring the dead and the severe damage to the church walls. Behind the cathedral in the Middle Times was a cemetery; today, it is home to a tiny fountain, a school, and the posh Hotel Neri, where you may dine at a stylish restaurant.
9. Roman Temple of Augustus
Four columns from this ancient temple, which dates back two millennia, may be found in a hidden alley behind the cathedral, protected by the building of the oldest Catalan hiking club. It’s not exactly in the center of town; thus, many natives might not be aware that it exists, but it surely is one of the best attractions in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.
Tourists with keen eyes should be able to spot the ruins of a Roman aqueduct that supplied water to parched togas just next to the cathedral. If you’re interested in history, Carrer Paradis 10 is where you’ll find the pillars of a temple dedicated to Emperor Augustus, among other noteworthy Roman ruins. Under the City History Museum are even more Roman ruins that have been preserved.
10. Plaça Sant Jaume
You may find Plaça Sant Jaume by heading east from the cathedral in the Barri Gotic. One of the most important squares in Barcelona, the Plaça de Catalunya, is home to the majestic Renaissance façade of the Palau de la Generalitat, which is the capital of the Catalonian government.
The one with the scowling security guards in front of it. The Adjuntament, often known as Barcelona’s City Hall, may be found in the other direction. This square is another must-visit attraction in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona.
11. Discover the Jewish Section of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona
The first Jewish family to live in what is now Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter migrated there as high-class slaves during Roman times following the destruction of Jerusalem. From there, a peaceful coexistence continued for approximately 1300 years.
While Christians likewise paid taxes to the Church, the Jewish population in the “Call” (Catalan for “Jewish Section”) was deemed the king’s private property and so subject to taxation by the monarchy. They were granted immunity in exchange for leadership positions inside the Court.
It all came to an end in 1391 (a full century before the Spanish Inquisition) when the king was powerless to prevent the violent uprising of the populace. The lucky ones escaped, and the remainder converted out of terror, but almost 300 individuals lost their lives. The neighborhood is a living testimony to the Jewish history of the area.