Let’s face it, Barcelona´s Gothic Quarter is one of the most visited and talked about neighborhoods in Spain, it has a history of more than 2000 years that gives it an amazing vibe. Full of enchanting squares, mysterious alleyways and gargoyles staring at you. In case you are planning to visit the Barcelona Gothic Quater, there are quite a number of essential big easy big-ticket things to do you’re going to want to check off before you check out, ready: VAMOS!
Before starting, lets set our GPS properly, where is the Barcelona Gothic Quater exactly? The answer it is pretty simple, also known as the old city, it is an area located between the famous Las Ramblas and Via Laietana. The majestic Gothic Cathedral is the gateway to this quarter which finishes by the sea. Now we are set, and here are the things that anyone visiting Barcelona´s Gothic District should do:
1. Mingle with the locals at their favorite Gothic hidden spot
Any Barcelona local will tell you that Plaça Sant IU is one of their favorite places in Barcelona, especially because not many tourists realize the magic and peacefulness it has. There is usually a lonely street musician playing, and if you pass the entrance of the Frederic Mares museum, you will find an idyllic cafe.
Where: Plaça Sant Iu, 5
2. See and listen to live traditional jazz at Jamboree Club in Plaça Reial
One of Barcelona Jazz landmarks, Jamboree Club is located in a cave-style basement is one of the most culturally active city spots, and also an essential component of Plaça Reial´s nightlife scene where you can experience the Catalan rumba.
(photo credit: AB Apartment Barcelona)
Where: Plaça Reial, Gothic Quarter
3. Take the less Gothic selfie of yourself, yet the most amazing one
This amazing mural, the world born in each kiss, was created in 2014, by a Catalan artist: Joan Fontcuberta. It is actually a photo mosaic that represents two mouths at a crucial moment in life, a kiss! He was inspired on a Facebook wall; a wall of affection, passion, proximity and the willingness to live. The kiss is composed of 4,000 small tiles, all different which are in fact pictures donated by Barcelona local residents and represent a ¨moment of freedom¨. In case you are asking yourself what to see in the Gothic Quarter, beyond all the historic sites, I really take this one as my favorite.
Where: Plaça d’Isidre Nonell, 6-8, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
4. Indulge yourself into old school Catalan gastronomy at the Gothic Quarter
When you are hungry you´ll most probably ask google where to eat at Barcelona Gothic Quarter, and being one of the most visited areas in Barcelona, the search results will give you plenty of ¨touristy bars¨ as options, however there are a number of establishments that had survived the waves of tapas commercialization and remain faithful to their principles.
You can eat at Barcelona´s oldest restaurant Can Culleretes, opened since 1786! It is tucked away on a small street off Barcelona’s famous Ramblas, or have a coffee at Granja Dulcinea, which is literally a trip to Barcelona´s early 1900s. And in case you would like to experience Barcelona traditions through ancient drinks and delicious tapas, make sure you book your spot at our Bodegas (old taverns) and tapas experience that wanders through this historic district as well as La Barceloneta.
5. Try finding a piece of sunray at Barcelona’s Old Jewish Quarter
El Call, is one of the most beautiful areas of the Gothic district in Barcelona. It has the narrowest streets in the city, being Sant Domenec del Call one of the main arteries where the old synagogue is located.
6. Play role time! Be a Roman Emperor and get to the top of Barcino (before the city was actually named Barcelona)
One of the best-kept secrets of the Barcelona Gothic Quarter are the four columns of the Roman temple of Augustus dedicated to his cult. This was the highest point in the city at the time of its foundation. The temple presided over the Forum (the central square of the Roman Barcino), named Mount Taber, at 16.9 meters above the sea level!
(photo credit Judith Tiral)
Where: Paradís, 10 (see the inscription on the wall: Mout Taber)
7. Wanderlust at carrer del Bisbe for bad luck
The Bishop´s bridge in Barcelona, where every, I mean every tourist takes a picture, hides a local legend. While you walk through you will see a skull on the bottom of the bridge, it brings you bad luck!
Where: Bishop´s bridge at Carrer del Bisbe, Barcelona Gothic Quarter
8. Keep wander-lusting, but for good luck now!.
Following on the previous point, now you should find a medieval-looking building, which is not an easy task in the middle of the Gothic District in Barcelona if you know what I mean! but you´ll certainly find a turtle sculpture on the wall. Just touch the turtle´s shell and your problem solved! It is believed that this turtle brings good luck.
This kind of wall inscription, it is actually a mailbox made by Antoni Gaudi´s master: Domenech i Muntaner, back in the XIX century when he was commissioned to refurbish this ancient building that use to be the law school of Barcelona. He made a particular interpretation of the law with this small piece of art, the birds represent the freedom of justice, the turtle how fast justice goes, and the leaves the bureaucracy of the system. Quite a vision!
Where: Carrer de Santa Llúcia, 3
9. If you are a movie geek, find the shooting location for ¨The Perfume¨ film.
Head to Felip Neri Square, which is another hidden gem Barcelona Gothic Quarter and the entrance to the Barcelona Jewish Quarter. This tiny square used to share space with a church and the city’s shoemakers’ and coppersmiths’ guilds. It is also one of the places of Barcelona where you can see the effects of the Spanish Civil War bombings.
(photo credit: Cute Suite)
Where: Plaça de Sant Felip Neri
10. Forget about the Three Graces fountain at Placa Reial, visit Barcelona first public fountain.
Go to Plaça de Sant Just, a quiet area with a fountain that remounts its origins to the 14th century, and that still provides fresh water to walkers who pass by. The legend says that a businessman living here, while hiking the Collserola mountains found a water-fountain and that he built a channel to his house. There is a sculpted hawk catching a partridge on his honor.
Where: Plaça de Sant Just, 4.B
By the way, Gaudi´s first works are actually placed at the Placa Reial (mentioned earlier), and consist of two street lamps on both sides of the central fountain, and are just wonderful!
11. The game is over! Aliens are invading the Gothic Quarter
Uncover the small ghost-type pixelated figure that is part of a world invasion by graffiti artist Invader, also known as Space Invader, who affixes mosaic images of characters from the 1979s-video game ¨Space Invaders¨. His project is about liberating art from its usual environment: Museums, but as well freeing the space invaders from the TV screens and to bring them to our physical world. It is quite interesting to find his works in such a historic place in Barcelona.
Where: Plaça del Pi
Tip: there are many other Invaders in Barcelona! Just go out and find them!
12. Go to an independent art gallery that really cares about you!
It is no surprise that we live in a society driven by consumption, and Drap-Art, a non-profit organization that promotes creative recycling, stands in the middle of a district driven by the touristic economy to raise social awareness for novel values. It is really rewarding finding this unique art gallery in the middle of the Gothic district.
(photo credit: Camel76)
Where: Calle Groc, 1
13. Bar hop all the way down Carrer dels Escudellers
There so many things to at the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, home to curious tourists during the day and party goers during the night, plus an eclectic mix of residents, it is one of the main nightlife epicenters in the city, with so many watering holes and bars, the only hard part is choosing a pretty good bar route. Well, that and staying vertical by the time you get to the end. Salut!
(photo credit: El Paraigua)
14. Admire candy handcrafting and get a bag of sweets for your next adventures
One way or another, human beings are prone to finish their city adventures with some sweets, and Papabubble, an original sweet shop founded in Barcelona, is the perfect place to end up your discovery of the Gothic Quarter. They recovered the ancient artisanal candy making process.
Where: C/ Ample, 28, 08002 Barcelona.
Looking for more things to do in Barcelona? hungry for a taste of tapas? thirsty for a wine tasting? check out more on our blog and our foodie activities in Barcelona as we explore the city off the beaten path districts!
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