Barcelona's Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) dates back to the Middle Ages, and the neighborhood’s age is evident in its narrow winding roads, shady plazas, and beautiful architecture (including three major cathedrals). Passersby find gems tucked away in the nooks and crannies off the narrow streets—think trendy restaurants, chic bars, and boutique shops. The area's proximity to the La Rambla pedestrian mall also contributes to its popularity among the young, nightlife-loving crowd.
Few come to Barcelona without spending time in the Gothic Quarter. Situated between El Born and El Raval, the neighborhood is home to the Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça Sant Jaume, Plaça Reial, and the city's most intact stretch of Roman wall. Its winding streets make it an easy and pleasant place to get lost for an afternoon, but seeing it with a guide will unlock the area's historic and cultural significance. Most walking, cycling, and Segway tours spend time in the Gothic Quarter.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Many travelers opt to get oriented with a guided tour before wandering the Gothic Quarter on your own.
- This neighborhood is a must-see for first-time visitors.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. The Gothic Quarter is expansive and the pavement not always even.
- Some of the shops and restaurants in the neighborhood close on Sundays.
How to Get to the Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter sits in the middle of Barcelona's Old Town, with La Rambla to one side and Via Laietana to the other. The quarter itself is easy to navigate on foot, as most streets are closed to traffic, and it's accessible from other areas of the city via the metro (Liceu, Jaume I, or Plaça Catalunya stations).
When to Get There
The narrow streets can get packed with people in July and August, peak tourist season in Barcelona. Late summer is also the hottest time of year, with temperatures rising into the high 80s and low 90s F. In spring and fall, cool temperatures and sparser crowds make for pleasant exploration, while visitors who come during the holiday season can see the neighborhood lit up in colorful lights or shop at the Christmas market in front of the Barcelona Cathedral.
The Gothic Quarter and the Spanish Civil War
This neighborhood witnessed some of the most significant moments of the Spanish Civil War in Barcelona. In the now serene Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, shrapnel-scarred walls testify to the bombs dropped in January 1938. The Hotel Continental, situated along La Rambla, was where George Orwell and his wife stayed during the war; he mentions it in his book "Homage to Catalonia."