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Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, known locally as Barri Gòtic, exudes charisma and is crammed with two millennia of history, including remnants of the city’s Roman past. Bordered by La Rambla, Plaça de Catalunya, the waterfront promenade, and Via Laietana, this buzzy central district is one of the best places to explore in Barcelona.

Crisscrossing cobblestone lanes, sun-dappled squares, and splendid churches fill this fine neighborhood. The Gothic Quarter is also bursting with tapas bars, coffee shops, and xocolaterias, which specialize in dense hot chocolate and fluffy churros.

Whether your passion is gastronomy or history, or you simply prefer to soak it all up in a vibrant square, here’s everything you need to know about exploring the Gothic Quarter.

Attractions in the Gothic Quarter

Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya

Exterior of Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya

Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya

Barcelona Gothic Quarter’s Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya is no ordinary government building. It’s one of the longest-serving government buildings in Europe, having been the seat of the Government of Catalonia since the 1400s.

The stone facade on Plaça de Sant Jaume features a pleasing symmetrical design, with an elegant central balcony, shuttered windows, and a series of gargoyles set around the top of two pillars.

Inside, the late Gothic main courtyard features a galleried upper floor crowned with 26 striking gargoyles. There’s also the Courtyard of the Orange Trees on the second floor, filled with fragrant citrus trees.

The first floor St. George Hall, designed as the building’s new chapel in the early 1600s, is a triumph, with three naves, a marble floor, and pillars supporting vaulted frescoed ceilings.

Barcelona Gothic Quarter - Carrer del Bisbe

Carrer del Bisbe

Admire this glorious building from the plaza outside, or any other surrounding streets, including Carrer de la Ciutat and Carrer del Bisbe. Carrer de Bisbe is the location of a small, but extraordinary marble bridge that is synonymous with the Gothic Quarter. El Pont del Bisbe joins Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya with the Casa dels Canonges and is a fantastic piece of Gothic architecture and a real treasure of Barcelona’s old quarter.

Roman Necropolis in Plaça de la Vila de Madrid

Roman Necropolis in Plaça de la Vila de Madrid

Roman Necropolis, Plaça de la Vila de Madrid

The Roman Necropolis is one of Barcelona’s most revered archaeological sites, containing the remains of 95 tombs, 2,000 years old, from the period of the Roman colonia (colony).

The open site is outside the Roman wall in the center of Plaça de la Vila de Madrid, since burials were prohibited inside the Spanish city during the Roman period.

The site was conserved for centuries, a convent built here in 1588, although this was heavily damaged during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). This led to the formation of the square and the discovery of the necropolis in the 1950s, with the site further excavated between 2000 and 2003.

Stroll around the tombs, which are part of a secondary burial site that was reserved for the lower and middle class. Visit the Interpretation Center to view objects found at the site and to learn more about Barcelona—or Bàrcino as it was then known—during the Roman period, including a fascinating window into the rituals and funeral beliefs of the period.

Plaça del Rei & Reial Major Palace

Barcelona Gothic Quarter - Plaça del Rei

Plaça del Rei

This 14th-century public square is surrounded by the Palau Reial Major, a former royal residence of the counts of Barcelona and kings of Aragon.

The Royal Palace comprises three buildings, the Salón de Tinell, a former throne room, with its rounded grand arches; Santa Ágata chapel; and the Lloctinent Palace, added in the 16th century for the king of Spain.

Exterior of Reial Major Palace

Reial Major Palace

Stop by the lesser-known Museu Frederic Marès inside the Royal Palace to see its impressive collection of sculptures, including statues from the pre-Roman period. Roam more of Reial Major Palace’s grounds to see fragments of the former Roman wall and marvel at the late Gothic and early Renaissance architecture of Lloctinent Palace.

Inside Santa Ágata Chapel, check out the spectacular 15th-century altarpiece by Jaume Huguet and reach the soaring octagonal tower via the staircase found inside a small room next to the chapel’s altar.

The Great Synagogue of Barcelona

Street view of The Great Synagogue of Barcelona

The Great Synagogue of Barcelona Photo by Malik Shabazz on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Moments from St. James’s Square, in the El Call district (the Catalan name for the Jewish Quarter), the Great Synagogue of Barcelona is one of the oldest in Europe, constructed in the third and fourth centuries.

The remains of the synagogue are nestled in some of the Gothic Quarter’s narrowest streets that were once the center of Barcelona’s Jewish community.

Rediscovered in the late 20th century, the Great Synagogue of Barcelona is now an archaeological site consisting of a two-room museum that also holds private ceremonies such as bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs.

Join a guided tour of the synagogue and excavation site to learn more about the building and the rich Jewish heritage of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.

Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

Street view of Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

This tucked-away plaça is named after the historic Church of Saint Philip Neri that looms over the square.

An octagonal fountain is in the center of the square, while tall trees and buildings offer plenty of shade. There’s a lovely restaurant and a single shop selling fragrant handmade soaps on one corner.

Built in the 1700s, the square’s baroque church bears the scars of the Spanish Civil War following a siege that took place on January 30, 1938. This Spanish church was commandeered for military use during the war and was subsequently bombarded by Franco’s military from the air. The impact of an explosion is visible across the entire lower front facade of the church.

Visit today and you’ll find Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, one of the most peaceful spots in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. Step inside the church then enjoy a quiet drink or bite to eat at the restaurant as you soak in this beautiful setting.

Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi

Exterior of Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi

Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi

Not to be outdone by Barcelona Cathedral, the 14th-century Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi is another masterpiece of religious architecture.

Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi features wonderful stained-glass windows and an elegant glass rose, creating shafts of exquisite light that bathe the church’s single nave.

Opt for a guided tour to explore the bell tower, garden, and crypt, followed by a visit to the Spanish museum, with its collection of Catalan gold and silver.

Things to Do in the Gothic Quarter

Shop for Souvenirs

Street view of Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter

If your favorite vacation pastime is shopping for souvenirs, you’ll adore Barcelona’s labyrinthine Gothic Quarter. This is one of the best places to go shopping in Barcelona as there are boutiques, galleries, gourmet shops, and specialist stores selling everything from books and antiques to mouthwatering Iberico ham.

Make a pilgrimage to La Manual Alpargatera, the place to buy gorgeous handmade espadrilles on vibrant Carrer Avinyó, one of the best shopping streets in the Gothic Quarter. Sombrerería Obach is a hat atelier specializing in an array of made-to-measure and off-the-shelf creations, from straw hats to berets.

Antiques at a market in Barcelona


The narrow Baixada de Santa Eulàlia is a wonderful strip for one-of-a-kind Spanish souvenirs, with a perfumery, antique stores, jewelry, and vintage boutiques.

Browse the boutiques of Carrer del Pi and pick up gourmet goods from the time capsule Xarcuteria La Pineda for all of your cheese and charcuterie needs. Just next door, Xocolates Fargas is the place to pick up sublime confectionery. Just across the street is La Nostra Ciutat, a delightful spot for colorful illustrations of Barcelona and other artisan pieces—homeware, jewelry, and postcards—by local artists.

Take the Elevator to the Top of Barcelona Cathedral

View from Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral is Barri Gòtic’s star attraction. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries on the site of a Roman temple and paleo-Christian church, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, to give it its full name, is known for its extraordinary gothic facade.

Fanciful features include a tall, elaborate spire, two smaller spires, and two bell towers. The sensational facade was added much later, in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Inside, there’s a vaulted ceiling, five aisles, two chapels, and a raised high altar with a view into the crypt, a sacred spot where the body of St. Eulalia is interred.

Beautiful exterior of Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral

The cathedral’s beautiful cloister, accessed via a Romanesque white marble door, is a tranquil space with palm trees, magnolias, an orange tree, and a fountain. There’s a pond here, too, home to the cathedral’s 13 white geese in honor of St. Eulalia, a martyr who was killed during the persecution of Christians when she was just 13 years old.

Once you’ve explored every inch of the interior, take the elevator to the cathedral’s rooftop for some of the best views in Barcelona. Here, you’ll be greeted by dazzling views of the cloister and the Gothic Quarter’s toothpick-thin alleyways from above.

Trace Roman Relics

Family inside the Barcelona History Museum in Barcelona Gothic Quarter

Barcelona History Museum

As well as the Roman necropolis, a smattering of other Roman remnants can be found in Barcelona’s  Gothic Quarter, the center of ancient Barcino.

The best place to start is at the Barcelona History Museum. Located next to the cathedral, the museum lies in an extraordinary medieval building on the site of a former Roman factory and workshop. Inside, there’s a vast collection of artifacts to browse.

Remains of Temple of Augustus

Temple of Augustus

Moments from Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya and Barcelona Cathedral, on Carrer del Paradís, is the remains of the Temple of Augustus, including four 30-foot Corinthian columns inside the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya. Once part of Barcelona’s Temple of Augustus, dedicated to Emperor Augustus, the columns date from the first century B.C.

There’s more, including the arches of Roman aqueducts, towers, and walls on Plaça Nova, Carrer de la Palla, Plaça de Ramon Berenguer, and Carrer del Correu Vell.

Relax in Plaça Reial

Plaça Reial in Barcelona Gothic Quarter

Plaça Reial

Just off La Rambla, Plaça Reial is one of Spain’s great squares. A wide-open space dotted with tall palm trees, Plaça Reial is lined with restaurants and nightclubs. Tables flow onto the stone square, including La Gallega Tobogán and Expat Cafè.

If you have at least three days in Barcelona, take time to relax in Plaça Reial. Graze on tapas and enjoy a glass of effervescent Cava or a chilled cerveza as you people-watch in this royal plaça.

Check out the ornate lamp posts on Plaça Reial, which were designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, famed for designing the city’s La Sagrada Familia.

Restaurants in the Gothic Quarter

Els Quatre Gats

Exterior of popular restaurant Els Quatre Gats

Els Quatre Gats Photo by Jaume Meneses on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Opened in 1897, Els Quatre Gats, or the Four Cats, is a Gothic Quarter institution, based on Paris’ famed Le Chat Noir cabaret venue.

The Four Cats has appeared in a Hollywood movie and was the location of Pablo Picasso’s first exhibition in 1899, and remains one of Barcelona’s most storied restaurants.

Dine on a selection of marinated anchovies with sherry and apple cider vinegar, acorn-fed Iberian ham, fried baby squid, and cod croquettes in either the more casual gastro-bar or restaurant.

Les Quinze Nits

Food from Les Quinze Nits

Les Quinze Nits

On a convivial corner of Plaça Reial, with tables lining the outdoor terrace, Les Quinze Nits is one of the best people-watching restaurants in Barcelona.

This fantastic spot for food in Barcelona is perfect for ordering a selection of dishes for the table along with carafes of sangria. Savor dishes such as baby octopus, crispy aubergine, and tomato-rubbed coca bread (a style of Catalan flatbread).

There’s a plant-heavy appetizer section, a paella menu with vegan, seafood, and meat choices, and mouthwatering main courses, such as the white-bean hummus and monkfish stew with clams and potatoes.

El Salón

This Barcelona bistro is a romantic spot for a relaxed lunch. Enjoy a glass of crisp rose cava on the restaurant’s Plaça dels Traginers terrace, facing the Roman city walls, as you browse a menu of salads, appetizers, fish, and meat.

The fish selection is a highlight, including swordfish carpaccio and grilled squid with white beans. Don’t skip on the rocket with pear, Iberico ham and buffalo mozzarella salad and the sublime pumpkin and sweet potato soup with mascarpone and crispy ham.

There aren’t many vegetarian choices, though the eggplant terrine with a goat’s cheese gratin is a tasty option.

Bodega Biarritz 1881 Tapas Bar

Tapas in Barcelona


For an outstanding menu of tapas in a charming setting, the intimate Bodega Biarritz 1881 on Carrer Nou de Sant Francesc is a standout Gothic Quarter restaurant.

Sit at the bar or choose a table to savor dishes of roast tomato tarte tatin, garlic shrimp, Iberian ham in puff pastry, and smoked chorizo ​​with steamed apples.

Typically open from 1pm until late, Bodega Biarritz 1881 is a no-reservation restaurant with a warm, rustic vibe.

Travel Tips

Getting Around

This compact quarter of Barcelona is easy to cover on foot. It’s possible to visit all of the major attractions here and still have time to shop and relax over a meal or drink in a sun-drenched square.

Best Time to Travel

Plaça Reial in Barcelona Gothic Quarter

Plaça Reial

Expect pleasant temperatures in Barcelona Gothic Quarter during spring and fall in Spain, with lows of around 60°F and highs of 73°F. If you’re visiting during summertime, the city’s peak season, expect highs of around 85°F. Though there is plenty of shade in the Gothic Quarter, wear SPF and carry water to remain hydrated.

The Gothic Quarter is one of Barcelona’s most popular neighborhoods and can therefore get busy during peak season. Opt for an early visit to beat the crowds.

Currency & Tipping

The currency of Spain is the Euro. Cards are accepted all over Barcelona but if you want to pay with cash, there are plenty of ATMs.

Tip around 10 percent in Barcelona for good service in restaurants, but do check first to see if service is included.

Street view of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter

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