The best way to see most cities is on foot, especially cities with atmospheric old quarters like Barcelona. Today we explored the Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter, a delightful maze of narrow medieval lanes filled with trendy bars, shops and restaurants, and dotted with significant historical buildings, monuments and fountains.
We chose to follow Rick Steves audio-guide (you can download it free here), to give us a framework, and to have someone point out the things we might have missed on our own. We’re not fans of group tours, so a self-paced audio-guide is perfect for us. (Note this is not a sponsored post – just a personal recommendation. Though if you’re reading this Rick, happy to talk terms!)
Here’s a map of our walk (image ©Rick Steves Europe Inc) – click for a larger version.
Barri Gòtic dates back to the Roman city of Barcino, and it was surrounded by medieval city walls until the 1850s. Much of the Gothic Qaurter is not from the middle ages as such, but was extensively restored and renovated in neo-gothic style in the late 19th & early 20th centuries, aimed at attracting visitors for the 1929 International Exhibition. We saw so much, and took so many photos, it will take a few blog posts to cover all the highlights – stay tuned over the coming few days. But really, a lot of the fun lies in just wandering the streets and alleyways, and the charming, quirky, & historic scenes that reveal themselves.
I don’t have any details about this.
There was a pop-up market selling antiques, homewares and bric-a-brac
There was a street artist blowing huge bubbles in front of the cathedral, entertaining children of all ages.
This monument portrays five martyrs who were executed following an attempted uprising against the French troops during the occupation of Barcelona in 1808.
Sant Jordi (Saint George) is one of the patron saints of Catalonia
Courtyard of the old archdeacon’s residence of Barcelona cathedral, now houses the city archives.
Designed by the 19th century Catalan architect Lluís Doménech i Montaner, was built upon request for the local Lawyers’ Association, which at the time was based within the building of ‘La Casa de l’Ardiaca.’ The design is rich in symbolism: the swallows represent the idea that justice needs to fly high and rise above the worlds’ ills; the ivy symbolizes the difficulties lawyers back then already encountered with bureaucracy; the turtle represents the slow pace of the judicial system.
Signs marked Entrada (entrance) and Salida (exit) mark the one-way traffic in these tight old lanes
I’d love to know the story behind this one.
Shisha pipes in the shape of a machine gun, and covered in bling!
Note the wall, riddled with holes from shrapnel incurred in a massacre during the Spanish Civil War. The damage to the wall was left as a memorial.
In this Catalan tradition, a jumping jack with as many noses as days left in the year (a large nose) walks through the city’s streets giving out sweets to the kids. On 31 Dec he has only one nose left, hence the parade, apparently.
The oldest fountain in Barcelona, dating from the 17th century. The lovely tiles were a 1918 addition.
Just for fun, here’s a short snippet of a busker we saw, singing opera, naturally.