The Barri Gòtic, or Gothic district, and La Rambla, can be easily recognised as the oldest and most historic part of Barcelona with its medieval buildings and labyrinthine narrow roads. From the 4th Century until the middle of the 19th century it was entirely enclosed by strong Roman walls and fortifications. Fragments of these walls can still be seen, most notably around the La Seu Cathedral and around Calle Avinyo. Barcelona's cathedral, itself a splendid example of Gothic architecture at its finest, was begun in 1298 and completed in 1448. This was the period of Barcelona's medieval golden age. As the Mediterranean city's trade and economy flourished, its architects laid down the foundations of many of what are still the city's most important buildings today. The church of Santa María del Pi and the Saló de Tinell in Plaça del Rei are some of the most significant legacies of the European Gothic movement.
Barcelona´s administrative centre is located in the nearby Plaça Sant Jaume, which used to be the city's forum and marketplace back in Roman times. Now it is home to both the headquarters of the Catalan government in the Palau de la Generalitat, and the town hall or Ajuntament. It also remains one of the favourite venues for traditional events and activities, such as the dancing of sardanas, and human castles during Barcelona´s Mercé festival.
Visiting the Gothic District by day
Barcelona´s Gothic district fits a lot into a small area. Plaça Catalunya is the transport hub of the city and you can get almost anywhere if you begin here, by bus, metro, train or even by bicycle. La Rambla itself is a feast for the senses with colourful dancers and bustling restaurants, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Visiting the Gothic area by night
Plaça Reial just off la Rambla contains some of the most typical gothic architecture and it is highly recommended to explore it by night when hoards of tourists and locals alike descend on the square to chill out and soak up the atmosphere or to enjoy a late dinner in one of the many restaurants. However, the many small alleyways that connect the Plaça to the neighbourhood tend to be a hothouse for petty crime, so take care!
Countless small and not so small bars can be found in the Gothic, making it one of the most densely packed and liveliest districts by night. Traditional style restaurants are tucked away down unlikely narrow roads, and Barri Gòtic is also home to some of the most eclectically decorated and unique bars in Barcelona. It´s definitely worth setting some time aside to explore.
How to get there
With Plaça dve Catalunya being the central hub for transport in Barcelona it is not hard to make your way there from anywhere using the metro or FGC trains. However, if you wish to be closer to the centre of the Barri Gotic there is an L3 metro link at Liceu and Drassanes as well as L4 in Jaume I.