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Barrio Gótico

 

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Considered the most complete group of medieval buildings existing anywhere, the Gothic Quarter, or Barrio Gótico in Spanish, is one of the must-see areas of the city.In fact the quarter is far older than the Gothic period; the ancient Roman town of Barcino lay here and many Roman remains can still be seen, with stretches of wall and columns still visible.What is known as the Gothic Quarter was therefore built over the antique city; it is a maze of narrow winding streets with tall buildings and pedestrian streets.Essentially a commercial part of town there are shops dedicated to leather goods, jewellery and ceramics, with more conventional brand names found in Avenida Portal del Angel and Calle Portaferrissa.
As the area is high on tourists and, particularly at night, low on lighting, it has a reputation for pickpockets but as long as visitors keep an eye on bags they should not encounter any problems.

The attractions of the Barrio Gótico are seemingly endless and great pleasure can be taken just by meandering through its romantic streets and absorbing the atmosphere of the medieval city.The Gothic cathedral is a good place to start any tour, also incorporated into its complex are the Cases dels Canonges and Casa de L´Ardiaca, houses for canons and the archdeacon, the latter of which has the surprising addition of a Modernist letterbox by Doménech i Montaner.Calle Bisbe gives access to the gorgeous cathedral cloisters; note that the bridge running over pedestrians´heads is a 20th century addition!Opposite the cloisters is perhaps the loveliest square in the city, Plaça Sant Felip Neri.Here you can find the quirky Museu del Calçat (ShoeMuseum), home to the biggest shoe in the world and a collection of footwear through the ages.

On the other side of the cathedral is the Plaça del Rei ´the most noble urban element of the old Barcelona´ was the Palace where the Kings of Catalonia and Aragon lived and, if legend be believed, where Columbus was received upon returning from his first voyage of discovery.The Museu de l´Història de la Ciutat is in the square; it provides the best glimpse into Barcelona´s ancient past, with access to an underground 4,000m2 archaeological site.Entry to the museum includes access many exemplary Gothic structures nearby.Other Gothic buildings worth visiting are dotted about the Quarter, for example, the Gothic church of Santa Maria del Pi which has a huge rose window and an artists´ market in the square outside.

Plaça Sant Jaume is the political heart of Barcelona, many a demonstration has been performed in front of the Palau de la Generalitat or the municipal government which faces opposite.Another popular square, for entertainment rather than political ends, is Plaça Reial; built in the 1840s it has lamp-posts designed by the omnipresent Gaudí, is surrounded by good restaurants but also frequented by down and outs and performing ´artists´.

Far more suspect is Plaça George Orwell (known as Plaça Trippy) which ironically has surveillance cameras keeping an eye on the shady characters hovering about.However, some of the better bars are in this part of the quarter, so if passing by simply take care late at night.An elegant destination for food and drinks is Els Quatre Gats (c/Montsió 3), the legendary meeting point for the city’s finest artists, including Picasso, set in a stunning 1897 Modernist building.

Restaurants in the area are tourist friendly and provide menus in various languages.

TRANSPORT
Metro: Jaume I (L4)