The Gothic Quarter

A charming historical neighbourhood... With a surprise

Enjoy Gotic, the old town of Barcelona!

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Barcelona is a wonderful city, and the list of places worth visiting is fairly long. If you want to take a good look of all of Barcelona's tourist attractions, you would surely need over a week! The Gothic Quarter is one of the most important points of interest of this charming Mediterranean city, and with good reason: Its twisted, ochre streets are punctuated by lots of monuments and historical buildings, museums, cathedrals and plazas; and, of course, pubs, restaurants, terraces and street musicians, an inherent part of the lively Barcelona, as full of experiences as it is of surreal places.

The Gothic Quarter is one of the most beautiful parts of Barcelona's old town, and it is full of interesting historical details well worth knowing. However, the Gothic Quarter isn't as 'gothic' as its name suggests... Keep reading if you want to learn more about it, because you're in for a surprise! Besides, we'll give you some useful information and tips, and we'll tell you all you need to know about Gothic Quarter online tickets.

The Gothic Quarter: history with a twist

If we had to set a date for the moment when Barcelona jumped to the list of the most visited cities in the world, we would have to mention the Olympic Games of 1992. Undoubtedly, Barcelona can tell one of the main success stories of what the Olympics can do for a city. Whereas for many other cities in the world, such an event has meant an enormous investment, a quick rise of the touristic income and a downfall of abandoned facilities; the Olympic Games of 1992 shifted Barcelona from an industrial city to a touristic one. Two of the main highways were built for the event, entire neighbourhoods were built (The Olympic Village, for instance), and the whole city was 'cleaned up nice' for the event. And since then, the locals have had to deal with millions of tourists and constructions that work towards what has been called the 'Barcelona brand'.

However, there is a lot to discuss about the real origin of the so-called Barcelona brand, because the Gothic district proves that the will of turning Barcelona into the touristic and cosmopolitan city it is today was born much, much before the Olympics.

Let's get on topic: The Gothic Quarter is in fact a very old neighbourhood. It is actually the oldest of the four neighbourhoods that form the district of Ciutat Vella (Old Town), which is, as its name explains, the oldest part of Barcelona. The old Roman city of Barcino was right there, and there are ruins there to testify for it. Of course, the Gothic Quarter would suffer tons of modifications along time - Did you know that the first remains found in the city are around 4.000 years old, dating back from the Neolithic Age? Some of the constructions were of course built during the Middle Ages, and were in fact of Gothic style (for instance, the Atarazanas Reales, even if they aren't technically in the Gothic Quarter), many of the buildings and monuments that we nowadays consider 'gothic' are in fact neo gothic, and were built in the 20th century! Let's explain it with an example - and quite an important one! The Barcelona Cathedral, called the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, was built between 1298 and 1420. It's undeniable that it is an old, historical building. But its façade was actually quite different than it is today. It was of Gothic style, yes, but it wasn't as impressive as it is now. The current façade was built in neo gothic style between 1882 and 1913.

The Barcelona Cathedral communicates with Plaça Sant Jaume (where you will find the Ajuntament de Barcelona, the city hall, and the palace of the Generalitat Government) through carrer del Bisbe (Bishop Street), where you will find a beautiful gothic bridge. It was actually built brand new in 1928! Same happens with Plaça del Rei, one of the most beautiful and impressive plazas of the Gothic Quarter, which was subject of several remodels to 'gothic it up', even if its basic structure wasn't changed.

And those are not the only examples. The Gothic Quarter was turned more gothic before 1929, right on time for Barcelona's Expo. So, of course, there's been a lot of controversy over its authenticity. However, it is indeed interesting to see how far back the Barcelona brand goes, since that is essential to understand the idiosyncrasies of the city as we know it today.

So, is the Gothic Quarter a historical place? Undoubtedly yes: The Gothic Quarter is the cradle of old Barcino, the oldest part of the city, and there you will find buildings from all ages and styles, reminiscences from the tragedy that was the Spanish Civil War (On the walls of the church in Plaça Sant Felip Neri, for instance, you can still see the shrapnel holes left by a bomb thrown in 1938), beautiful spots and interesting museums, and yes: You will find many 'gothic' details that are in fact neo-gothic, but that are a testimony of what the city of Barcelona has been growing into for the past century.

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