The Gothic Quarter is one of the most famous landmarks in Barcelona. Located in the heart of the old city, this Barcelona neighborhood features a fusion of buildings dating from Roman times to the 20th century. Welcome to one the most interesting places to visit in Barcelona.
Born from the ashes of Barcino, the old Roman settlement of the area dating back to 15 BC, the Gothic Quarter still shows off some classic urban structures associated with the Roman Empire.
It’s not only Barcelona’s historic center but the heart and soul of the Catalan capital and the center of political and religious life in Barcelona since medieval times.
When you walk around the area it’s easy to come across massive Gothic churches and Roman walls from the first century AD.
The Gothic Quarters History
The Romans dominated the city for about 500 years – from its founding about 133 BC until the capture of the Visigoths 410 AD. The Roman settlement was built around the Temple of Augustus located northern of Plaça Sant Jaume. In the 2nd century Barcino had 3,500-5,000 inhabitants. In the 3rd century the first Christians came to Barcino, the persecution of the Christians under the emperor Diocletian started.
In 714 the city was surrendered to the Moors without a fight, that’s how Barcelona escaped a demolition. The Early Christian cathedral on the grounds of the cathedral today was transformed into a mosque. The Moorish reign lasted less than 100 years, that’s why there aren’t any noteworthy testimonials of the era.
In the 12th century Barcelona became the most important power of the Mediterranean. The former shipyard Drassanes is the visible evidence of the time as a maritime power.
Starting in the 19th century, the industrialization (textile industry) granted wealth and influence once again. In many places you can see the old smokestacks. The city walls were torn down from 1854-1856.
The area around the harbor was thoroughly renovated for the Olympic Summer Games in 1992.
Nowadays in the Gothic Quarter…
The main attribute of the Gothic Quarter is the antique aspect of its buildings, narrow streets and the near absence of traffic. In fact, many areas are for pedestrians only and built like a labyrinth of winding streets and hidden squares.
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) neighborhood is located in the district of Ciutat Vella. It stretches from Las Ramblas to Vía Laietana and from Passeig de Colom to the Plaça de Catalunya.
The present buildings sit on the former Roman settlement called Barcino. During the Medieval Ages, the city grew, constructing churches and Gothic palaces and destroying most of the Roman ruins.
If you’re looking for a young and international atmosphere and you want to be located in the heart of the city, the Gothic Quarter is for you. The nightlife and the crowded streets make it slightly less family friendly than other neighbourhoods, but you’ll be right in the city centre and just a few minutes away from… well… practically anything worth seeing!
El Portal de l’Angel is a popular shopping and pedestrian street that leads to the spacious Cathedral Square , dominated by the remains of the Roman walls that protected the city at one point. If you’re interested in roman history, then you can see plenty of remains in Barcelona, simply our tour through the old city.
One of the best attractions, located right in the heart of the neighborhood is the magnificent Cathedral, which has a beautiful courtyard full of greenery and 13 geese that live there. From the top of the neo-Gothic facade you can see many of the spooky gargoyles.
Behind the Cathedral you will find Plaça del Rei with its impressive Gothic buildings that show what an important cultural and economic role Barcelona played in the Middle Ages.
On Plaça Sant Jaume there is the City Hall and the Parliament of the Catalan Government. It’s also the home of The Museum of History where you can see some roman ruins preserved in its basement.
Not far from there is Plaça Reial, a large square that’s lined with palm trees. There are many bars and restaurants with terraces here, making it a relaxing place to stop and rest. It’s also where you’ll find one of Gaudí’s first public projects; some lamp-posts he made for the city council just before graduating.
Looking for culture, history and a lively atmosphere? Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter has it all.