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A Guide to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter

Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia of Barcelona. (Photo: Ken Welsh / Alamy Stock Photo)

Just off Barcelona’s touristy Plaça de Catalunya and La Rambla, the winding cobblestone streets and medieval buildings of the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) tell stories of the city’s past. Here you’ll find the perfect mix of historical buildings and culture with boutique shopping and good food. Barcelona’s oldest neighborhood was made for walking (it’s largely closed to vehicle traffic), and getting lost is just a chance to discover something new.

See Why Older is Indeed Better

Lucky for you, medieval buildings weren’t just made beautifully, they were made to last.

A stroll around the Gothic Quarter reveals well-preserved plazas and buildings from the 14th and 15th centuries, including the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia of Barcelona. Overlooking the Pla de la Seu, the cathedral is named after a young Christian martyr who was condemned to 13 forms of torture (one for each year of her life) after a confrontation with the Roman emperor Diocletian.

When you’re walking around, don’t forget to look up or you’ll miss the Puente de los Suspiros, or Bridge of Sighs. The arched walkway connects Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya (the seat of the Catalan presidency) with the Casa dels Canonges (the official residence). Historically, the bridge allowed senior officials to use a different route than the infantry, allowing them to travel between buildings quickly and easily.

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Pablo Picasso on a narrow shopping street in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. (Photo: Kevin Foy / Alamy Stock Photo)

Go Back in Time

Joan Miró was born here, and Pablo Picasso lived here for nearly 10 years. This artistic past is evident in the neighborhood’s many galleries, but it’s only part of the story. Go back more than 2,000 years at the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat (MUHBA), where pieces, including antique pottery, tell the story of Barcino (as Barcelona was known in Roman times).

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Dinner out at Plaça Reial, Gothic Quarter, Barcelona. (Photo: Luis Dafos / Alamy Stock Photo)

Sip, Eat, Repeat

No surprise here: the oldest part of the city has a thing for tradition, especially when it comes to food. Next door to restaurants specializing in typical Catalan and Spanish dishes, however, you may find a trendy pizza spot or noodle bar. In the evening, don’t let the quiet streets deceive you; there are plenty of bars buzzing with activity.

Bring Back Better Souvenirs

Easily stroll-able streets mean super easy window-shopping. Forget key chains and t-shirts; Mediterranean olive oil, clothing and accessories from local designers and beautiful handicrafts are among the goods you’ll find in the Gothic Quarter’s boutiques.