El Barri Gótic or Gothic Quarter
From its beginning Barcelona has grown outwards in rings, the ancient core is the hill where the Romans built a temple to Augustus Caesar. This is the nucleus of the medieval district called Barri Gótic or Gothic Quarter, with its remarkable concentration of medieval palaces and churches, many built on Roman foundations.
The best place to begin the tour around the Gothic Quarter is the Cathedral, which it was begun in 1298 on the site of earlier churches going back to Visigothic times. But the facade was not complete until the end of the 19th century and thus contrast with the simple, octagonal towers. In the centre of the nave is a splendid Gothic choir with lacy spires. Steps under the altar lead the alabaster tomb of Santa Eulália, one of the city two patron saints, celebrates with a Feste Major in February.
The leafy cloister is a lively refuge, with birds fluttering among the orange, magnolia and palm trees and inhabited by 13 geese, symbolizing the age of Eulália when she died. Watch where you walk, as the cloister is paved with tombstones many still bearing the ancient emblems of the craft guilds whose wealth helped pay for the constructions works. From the cloister pass to the Capella d Santa Lucia a chapel with a monument of crusader knight in armor on one wall.
Leaving the chapel you will walk through the old town to take in details as the gargoyles leaning from the roof of the Palau de la Generalitat.
Sant Jaume Square
The heart of the Barri Gotic where the city hall and the Government of Catalonia are located. The two buildings are a harmonious pair: both have classical facades. With multiple examples of Catalonian Gothic style.
Do you know… The square is the meeting place for giants, the huge regal figures that process through the streets at the Festival of La Mercé in September. It is also where you can see castells – human towers reaching nine people high -.
From behind the City Hall take the short Career d´Hercules to Sanst Just Square for a peek at the church of Sant Just i Pastor, one of the older in the city. Nearby you can find the Museu d’idees i invents de Barcelona, dedicated to ideas, inventions and creativity.
The King Square
From Paca Sant Just cross over Sant Jaume I and follow the street up to Baixada Llibreteria, one block down on the left Placa del Rei and the Museu d´Historia de la Ciutat de Barcelona (MUHBA). A Gothic mansion that was moved stone by stone to this location. In the basement of the museum, excavations have uncovered a portion of the Roman city.
Above them is the Palau Reial Major (Royal Palace), the main buildings here are the chapel, tower and great hall.
Behind the Royal Palace is Plca Berenguer el Gran, which has well-preserved section of the original Roman wall. Until 1943 most of this section was covered by old houses, which were removed to restore the walls view.
Sources | Dave Meler
Bibliography | Barcelona Pocket guide
Images | Dave Meler, Barcelona Tours & Tickets