The heart of Barcelona’s Old Town, Plaça del Rei is the city’s best preserved medieval square. The 14th-century Palau Reial Major (Royal Mayor Palace), which dominates the square was home to the counts of Barcelona and the Kings of Aragon. The Plaça is now an unofficial open-air museum of fine gothic architecture.
Any exploration of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Plaça del Rei. Historic walking tours through this atmospheric neighborhood of narrow streets almost always stop here, along with other points of interest like the Roman walls, Temple d’August, and the Palatine Chapel of Santa Agata. The plaza itself is free to enter, but some of the buildings surrounding it charge separate admissions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Plaça del Rei is a must-see for history buffs, architecture aficionados, and first-time visitors.
- Wear comfortable shoes when exploring the neighborhood on foot; the streets surrounding the plaza are often cobbled or uneven.
- Plaça del Rei and many of its buildings, including the Palau Reial Major, are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Plaça del Rei is centrally located and easy to reach on foot from just about anywhere in the Old City. To get there by public transportation, take the Barcelona metro to Jaume I station (Line 4).
When to Get There
It’s best to visit the plaza during the day when its surrounding historic structures are open to visitors. The neighborhood tends to get busy during the high season in July and August, so plan to visit during the spring or autumn shoulder seasons to enjoy the plaza and surrounding neighborhood without the crowds.
Plaça del Rei and Christopher Columbus
According to local lore, it was in this plaza in Barcelona that Christopher Columbus was received by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella when he returned from his first voyage to the New World. If the story is to be believed, Columbus greeted the Spanish royals on the steps at the corner of the square.