Barcelona’s District 1 is known as Ciutat vella, or old town, and it features a great many landmarks.This district is home to old neighbourhoods that are steeped in history, such as El Raval, la Ribera, la Barceloneta, Sant Pere and Santa Caterina. The most famous of all is the Gothic Quarter: the city’s historic, political and religious heart
The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. It stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to Ronda de Sant Pere. Despite several changes undergone in the 19th and early 20th century, many of the buildings date from Medieval times, some from as far back as the Roman settlement of Barcelona. Remains of the squared Roman Wall can be seen around Tapineria and Sots-Tinent Navarro to the north, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west and Carrer de la Palla to the south. El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter, is located within this area too. The Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many small streets opening out into squares. Most of the quarter is closed to regular traffic although open to service vehicles and taxis.
The Roman colony of Barcino was founded on this site, and at its centre stood the Forum, which is now the Plaça de Sant Jaume, flanked by the Casa de la Ciutat, or City Hall, and the Palau de la Generalitat, the seat of Catalan government. Until the early 20th century, this neighbourhood of medieval buildings was known as the cathedral district. An ambitious redevelopment programme, resulting from the opening up of the Via Laietana, included the addition of some neo-Gothic buildings that greatly improved the appearance of the area.
Ajuntament (City Hall)
The Casa de la Ciutat, or City Hall, has a neo-classical façade designed by Josep Mas (1847), although most of the building is Gothic in style, such as the side of the building on the Carrer Ciutat and the historic Saló de Cent (Chamber of the One Hundred), by Pere Llobet (1373). The city council, comprising one hundred members,met here, hence the name.This formation of the municipal government lasted until 1714. Other important features include the Saló de Cròniques, decorated with paintings by Josep Maria Sert (1928), and the Saló de la Reina Regent, where the plenary sessions of the muncipal council are held. Free guided tours on Sunday. 10am-1.30pm
Pl. de Sant Jaume
Palau de la Generalitat
The seat of the Catalan autonomous government is a Renaissance palace dating from the 16th century, and designed by Pere Blay. Highlights of the interior include the Gothic staircase, the chapel, the great hall, the Saló de Sant Jordi and the courtyard planted with orange trees, the Pati dels Tarongers. Free guided tours: on the second and fourth Sunday in the month, 9am-1.30pm
Pl. de Sant Jaume
The Gothic Cathedral building, known as the Catedral de la Santa Creu, stands on the site of an early- Christian basilica (4th century) with three naves. Building work on the cathedral began in 1298 and took over three centuries to finish. The oldest part of the cathedral is the doorway of Sant Iu and the façade, which was completed in 1890, is the most recent. Important features inside are the high altar, the choir stalls, the chapel dedicated to the Christ of Lepanto, and the crypt containing the remains of Santa Eulàlia (one of Barcelona’s two patron saints). The cloister, surrounded by side chapels, has a central courtyard of orange and palm trees and magnolias. visitors can take the lift to the cathedral roof which boasts superb views of the old town
Pla de la Seu
Casa de l’Ardiaca
The former Casa de l’Ardiaca, or Archdeacon’s House (a member of the ecclesiastical hierarchy at the cathedral), stands opposite the Romanesque chapel of Santa Llúcia and the Cathedral. It is a fine building with a beautiful courtyard, Renaissance-period fountain and a palmtree that protrudes above the roofline. The building is currently the home of the Barcelona Historic archives. admission to the courtyard is free and in the room on the ground floor visitors can see a section of the Roman wall.
C. de Santa Llúcia
Plaça del Rei
This is the most majestic area of the old town and includes the former royal palace, the Palau Reial Major, the great hall, the Saló del Tinell and the Gothic chapel of Santa Àgata. The Casa Clariana-Padellàs is the home of the Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBa Plaça del Rei). Visit the archaeological remains below the Plaça del Rei.
Columns in the temple of Augustus
Inside the headquarters of the Catalan Hikers’ and Ramblers’ association there are four surviving columns from the Temple of Augustus, an important relic from Roman times. admission free. Mon: 10am-2pm; Tue-Sat: 10am-7pm; Sun: 10am-8pm.
Plaça de Sant Felip Neri
The square is overlooked by the baroque church and convent of Sant Felip Neri, which was built in 1752. The basement of the former convent currently houses the city’s motorbike museum, the Museu de la Moto de Barcelona. The façade of the church still bears the scars of a bombing raid from the Civil War. a Renaissance building in the square was formerly the home of the city’s shoemakers’ guild, and is now a small museum dedicated to footwear.
Former Great Synagogue
The Call was the Jewish Quarter in medieval times. Part of the Jewish legacy that survives today is this ancient synagogue, which has recently been refurbished as a cultural centre open to the public. at number 1, in the same street, there is plaque bearing a Hebrew text.Summer: Mon-Fri: 10.30am-6.30pm; SatSun: 10.30am-2.30pm Winter: Mon-Fri: 11am-5.30pm; Sat-Sun: 11am-3pm
This unique, lively and colourful boulevard runs from Plaça de Catalunya down to the port, lined with newspaper and book stands, and interspersed with flower stalls. La Rambla is the city’s great arena, a microcosm of constant activity, 24 hours a day.
La Rambla, between c. Pelai and c. Tallers. a meeting place for locals and visitors alike, this wrought-iron fountain with its four drinking spouts is one of the symbols of the city. legend says that anyone who drinks from the fountain will return to the city time and time again.
Mercat de la Boqueria
The market of Sant Josep, the Boqueria, is the city’s oldest and most popular market. Mon-Sat: 8am-8.30pm
Pl. de la Boqueria
Church of Betlem
Late 17th-century Baroque church. The interior was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War and later restored.
Casa Bruno Quadros (La Rambla)
Josep Vilaseca, architect (1883). This early modernista landmark is one of the most unusual buildings on la Rambla. Its façade contains oriental decorative motifs, such as the umbrella and Chinese dragon.
Gran Teatre del Liceu
There are guided tours, daily at 10am, of the most representative areas of the opera house: the historic lobby, the main auditorium, the Hall of Mirrors and the foyer.
Building work on this porticoed square, just off la Rambla, began in 1848 over the ruins of a Capuchin convent. In the centre stands a fountain depicting the Three Graces and two streetlamps designed by Gaudí.
The Raval district (on the right-hand-side of la Rambla heading towards the port), was an area of convents, hospitals and market gardens until the mid-18th century. Today it is a revitalised, attractive area that is popular with locals and tourists alike, offering a whole host of cultural facilities.
Convent dels Àngels
16th-century Gothic ensemble which is on Barcelona’s Architectural, Historic and Artistic Heritage List.
Pl. dels Àngels
Antoni Gaudí, architect (1886-1889). This palazzo was built to be the home of Count Güell, and contains an extraordinary wealth of materials. It represents the synthesis of Gaudí’s architectural practice. The visit includes the underground stables, the ground floor, first floor, mezzanine, the floor with the bedrooms, the attic and rooftop.
Nou de la Rambla
Church of Sant Pau del Camp
A 12th-century former Romanesque monastery which retains a very interesting small cloister.
In the Middle Ages, the Ribera district was the centre of Barcelona’s guilds, commerce and maritime trade, when the city was the capital of a seafaring empire in the Mediterranean. Today, this district, steeped in history, has become one of the city’s most popular spots, with a vast array of restaurants, shops, bars, cocktail bars and other fashionable haunts, injecting it with new life while respecting its traditional character.
Santa Maria del Mar
This church is one of the most elegant examples of Gothic architecture due to the harmony of its proportions and the serene atmosphere which imbues the entire building. The church was quite an achievement as it was built in a relatively short period of time: it was begun in 1329 and completed in 1384.
Fossar de les Moreres
The former cemetery of the church of Santa Maria del Mar, and the burial place of the defenders of the city during the siege of 1714.
El Born Centre Cultural
This new cultural attraction opened in September 2013 and brings together three centuries of the city’s history. Below the cast-iron structure of the iconic 19th
century market, the Mercat del Born, lies the Barcelona of 1700, a reminder of the events of 1714 when Barcelona fell to the siege of the Bourbon troops. The centre
also hosts temporary exhibitions as well as a wide range of events. It also has a gastro bar and bookshop.
This street was the city’s most elegant thoroughfare during medieval times. The many Gothic palazzos that still survive today bear witness to this fact. Many of
them now house museums and art galleries.
The building has a neoclassical façade with Gothic-style chambers inside. The llotja building is historically linked to Barcelona’s trading activities by sea and land.
Parc de la Ciutadella
Places of interest inside the park include the Catalan Parliament, boating lake (boats available for hire), the waterfall, the Umbracle (plant house), Hivernacle
(glasshouse) and Zoo.
Zoo de Barcelona
Located in the Parc de la Ciutadella, the institution was founded more than one hundred years ago and is a much-loved part of the city’s cultural heritage. It currently looks after 315 species and more than 2,000 animals.
Mirador de Colón
The lift inside the iron column goes up to the viewing gallery at the top, 60 metres above the city.
Multipurpose leisure complex with a wide range of restaurants and shops, open every day of the week from 10am to 10pm. access from the Plaça Portal de la Pau via the pedestrian walkway, the Rambla de Mar, that crosses the harbour.
L’Aquàrium de Barcelona
This is one of Europe’s largest aquariums and the most important in the world to feature Mediterranean species. There is an 80-metre, walk-through glass tunnel under the vast oceanarium, and 20 giant tanks with sharks and other marine species. “Planeta aqua” brings together some of the most peculiar creatures (living fossils, piranhas, penguins and alligators).
Palau de Mar
This imposing brick building with its porticoes overlooks the old harbour area, the Port vell. It is also the home of the Catalan history museum, the Museu d’Història de Catalunya.