Looking for culture, history and a lively atmosphere? Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter has it all. Nestled in a set of crooked cobbled alleyways you’ll find striking Medieval architecture, fascinating museums and galleries, and plenty of hidden pleasures.
Talented buskers with acoustic guitars give your visit a classical Spanish soundtrack – adding atmosphere while you enjoy a pit stop in an outdoor bar or café. With so much culture to soak up, it’s important you visit the best bits. This guide will help you get the most out of your visit to Barrio Gòtico.
Plaça del Rei, a peaceful and picturesque square in the heart of the Gothic Quarter
Probably the most-visited attraction in the Gothic Quarter, this magnificent cathedral cannot be missed from your Barcelona itinerary. Built in the Middle Ages – as reflected in its remarkable Gothic design – the church is dedicated to Saint Eulalia, who was killed after refusing to dismiss Jesus as the son of God. Now, 13 white geese (to represent her age) are kept in the church in her honour.
For breath-taking Barcelona views, you can take the lift to the church roof to see a gorgeous Spanish skyline – but if heights aren’t really your thing, the carved arches around the cathedral’s doorway make the perfect frame for your obligatory visitor photo.
Plaça del Rei
This peaceful square in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, where you can find the Royal Palace, exemplifies the city’s Medieval past. The picturesque plaza surrounds you with ancient Roman ruins, and its arguably one of the most atmospheric corners of the city.
What’s more, Plaça del Rei, meaning ‘King’s Square’, is home to one of the city’s most fascinating historic museums that will take you back through centuries. Learn about Emperor Augustus’ reign and see how the locals lived – walk over ruins of streets, sewers and the wine and fish factories that once flourished.
View of the famous Barcelona Cathedral and King Marti’s Tower
Plaça de Sant Felip Neri
Tragic yet beautiful, this tranquil square is also a must-visit. Plaça de Sant Felip Neri was where one of the saddest attacks of the civil war took place, where around 200 people were killed in daylight – including refugee children that were playing out in the square.
At this moving attraction you can still see the shrapnel marks against the wall of the Baroque church from the famous Italian bombing in 1938.
Carrer del Bisbe Irurita and Bishop’s Bridge
You’ll stroll through a lot of cute cobbled streets as you explore Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, but Bisbe Irurita Street is an extra-special gem. You’ll need your camera at the ready, as this street is home to Barcelona’s most photographed bridge.
Although Bishop’s Bridge blends in beautifully with the surrounding Gothic architecture, it was built much later in 1928 in a plan to create a new series of Gothic buildings. This was rejected – but the bridge remained. In her rage, the architect secretly carved a skull and dagger onto the inside of the bridge, which according to legend casts an evil spell on passers-by.
Bishop’s Bridge is the centrepiece of Bisbe Irurita Street
The Picasso Museum
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is home to the enchanting Picasso Museum, where you can see the artist’s revolutionary work spread across five adjoining palaces, from his first childhood portraits to sketchy landscapes.
If you want to further follow in the footsteps of the famous artist, head to Els Quatre Gats for tapas and wine afterwards. This is where Picasso held one of his first exhibitions, and it was a popular hangout for many famous artists in Catalonia – including Antoni Gaudí.
Santa Maria del Mar
Just around the corner from the Picasso Museum sits Santa Maria del Mar, a beautiful Gothic church built in the 14th century. Step inside and admire the sheer size of the building, the detailed religious carvings and the vibrant stained-glass windows that flood the church with light.
Within the Santa Maria del Mar famously sits a precious sculpture of a Black Madonna to represent the Virgin Mary – see if you can spot it when you enter.
Behold the sheer size of Santa Maria Del Mar, a 14-century Gothic church flooded with light
Located right in the heart of Barrio Gòtico is the Jewish quarter, which is rich with history that dates back to the Middle Ages. Back then, 15 per cent of the population was Jewish, until the Spanish Inquisition in 1391 when Jews forced to leave the city or convert to Christianity.
Today, the ancient foundations still remain – and that’s what makes the area so fascinating. Look out for Ancient Hebrew signs and engravings as you wander the small streets, and if you stop for a bite in a café, you may well be sitting above secret female Jewish baths. Spain’s oldest synagogue, Sinagoga Major de Barcelona, is filled with artefacts that give you a powerful sense of how the community lived.