Gothic Quarter, Barcelona Travel Guide
Gothic Quarter Summary
- Barcelona's historic center
- Medieval buildings and charming cobblestone streets
- Gorgeous cathedrals, including the Barcelona Cathedral
- Popular squares such as Placa Reial and Paca Sant Felip Neri
- Very pedestrian-friendly
- Tons of great restaurants and a lively nightlife
- Shops with ware ranging from high-end labels to local goods
- Getting around can be confusing
- Restaurants and shops are often expensive
What It's Like
Sitting on top of the original Roman settlement, the Gothic Quarter is the center of the old city and one of the largest remaining Medieval neighborhoods in the world. It's bordered on one end by La Rambla, the iconic tree-lined street teeming with vendors, street performers, and tourists, and on the other, the Mediterranean. It boasts numerous historic buildings, ranging from the remains of Augustus's ancient temple, to Els Quatre Gats, the restored pub that served as a main meeting spot for Modernists at the turn of the century. But perhaps the most visually stunning buildings are the many cathedrals. Cathedral de la Seu, or the Barcelona Cathedral, is a massive structure with parts dating back as far as the 11th century. It features imposing cloisters (some frequented by geese), a breathtaking chapel, and surrounding gardens.
The Gothic Quarter traffic is nearly all pedestrian, and motorized traffic is heavily restricted. Getting around can be confusing (the streets create a complicated labyrinth) but numerous squares help visitors find their bearings. Placa Reial, complete with fountains and palm trees, is known for its lively nightlife, and Paca Sant Felip Neri, surrounded by churches, is one of the most romantic squares in the city. Other squares are home to the city hall, the presidential palace, and the palace where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella received Columbus upon his return from the New World.
It's one of the most popular neighborhoods among tourists, and there are tons of restaurants (many al fresco), high-end shops, and speciality shops with local favorites like fans and espadrilles. Due to their popularity, these restaurants and shops can be very expensive.
Where to Stay
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter is home to plenty of hotels. It's a small neighborhood, so it doesn't matter much where in the neighborhood visitors stay. While this area is characterized by high-end boutiques, such as the Ohla Hotel and the historic Hotel Colon (once visited by President Jimmy Carter in its glory days), budget-friendly hotels are easy enough to find as well. Plus, you'll save money on transportation staying in the Gothic Quarter, as most sights are within walking distance.