Barcelona’s Barri Gotic

On our Day # 3 in Barcelona we went on our second Rick Steves walk. This time we explored Old Barcelona, better known as the Barri Gotic (Gothic District). All of Rick’s walks start at the Placa de Catalunya and so we set out from our hotel and walked down Carrer de Fontanella until we came to the east point of the Placa where Carrer de Fontanella intersects with Avinguda del Portal de l’ Angel. You can’t miss the Portal de l’Angel. One of the first buildings you encounter has a seven story thermometer.

CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO SEE A LARGER VERSION OF THAT PHOTO.

The seven story thermometer.

The seven story thermometer.

Avinguda del Portal de l’ Angel is one of the most expensive streets in Barcelona. It’s also wide and full of tourists but only for a short while. Then it splits in two and invites you to wander among the narrow twisted alleys until you come upon the rear of the great cathedral. You can also just walk down the Via Laietana to Avenue de la Catedra and there you are at the cathedral’s front steps. But what fun is that when you can also explore some alleys that open up to either other alleys or to pleasant little squares with music in the air?

Avinguda de la del l'Angel begins at Placa de Catalunya.

Avinguda del Portal de l’Angel begins at Placa de Catalunya.

Walking down Avinguda de la del l'Angel.

Walking down Avinguda del Portal de l’Angel.

Most of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s characters in his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series live in the Barri Gotic. One of the first twisted alleys you come across is at the corner of the Corte Inglis building. It’s called Carrer de la Santa Anna and if you are in the proper frame of mind you might find Sempere and Sons Booksellers. Down the street for a block and then a few steps east will bring you to Els Quatre Gats (The Four Cats) restaurant where Daniel Sempere and his friend Fermin often dine. The restaurant is still there! As you get closer to the cathedral you will undoubtedly pass one of a half dozen or so smaller churches that pop up in the maze of alleys behind the cathedral. Each church has its own little square. Daniel’s friend Nuria Monfort lived off the Placa de Sant Felipe Neri.

Scary character stares out of El Cortes Inglis window on corner of Portal of Angels and Carrer d la Santa Anna. Could this be one of Zafon's nefarious characters?

Scary person stares out of Corte Inglis window on corner of Portal of Angels and Carrer de la Santa Anna. Could this be one of Zafon’s nefarious characters?

Zafon isn’t the only writer whose characters live in Old Barcelona. Irish writer Colm Toibin’s first novel is called South. It’s about an Irish woman who leaves her family in County Wexford and heads south to Barcelona where she rents a room in the Barri Gotic and walks every day to that same little square outside the church of St Philip Neri. One day she meets a rather rowdy Catalan artist in that square and the story takes off from there.

Three of the 13 geese in the cloister of the Barcelona Cathedral.

Three of the 13 geese in the cloister of the Barcelona Cathedral.

After a half-hour or so of walking and browsing we finally came to the cathedral’s cloister where we paid our admission and listened to the honking of the 13 geese who inhabit the cloister. Why 13 geese? Well, the cathedral’s real name is Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia and Saint Eulalia was 13 years old when she became a martyr. Most Barcelonese, by the way, call the cathedral La Seu and the square in front of the cathedral is called Placa de La Seu.

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Barcelona Cathedral was completed in 1450.

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The Barcelona Cathedral is also known (in Catalan) as Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia.

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Lots of medieval art inside the cathedral.

 

After visiting the cathedral we rounded a corner and came across a charming little square called Placa de Sant IU where a couple were dancing to the music of two flamenco guitarists. Then we wandered around some of the nearby old buildings most of which have been turned into museums. We walked down a few steps to the Museu Frederic Mares courtyard and found a group of Scandinavians singing a capella. We wandered around some more glancing at souvenirs and stopping once in a while for snacks. We came across Barcelona’s City Hall at one of the larger squares we encountered that day. It was a couple of blocks from the cathedral.

 

Montserrat's Black Madonna has a place at the Cathedral, too.

Montserrat’s Black Madonna has a place at the Cathedral, too.

Guitar players at the Placa Sant Iu.

Guitar players at the Placa Sant Iu.

Dancing to the guitar music.

Dancing to the guitar music.

Museu Fredric Mares. Mares wa sa sculptor andf collector who donated his entire collection to the City of Barcelona.

Museu Frederic Mares. Mares was a sculptor and collector who donated his entire collection to the City of Barcelona.

The Scandinavian choir at the Mares Museum.

The Scandinavian choir at the Mares Museum.

Tourists listening to the choir in the Mares Museum courtyard.

Tourists listening to the choir in the Mares Museum courtyard.

My wife and her headless friend in front of the Cathedral. This street performer was pestering the tourists much to the consternation of the lady on the right.

My wife and her headless friend in front of the Cathedral. This street performer was pestering the tourists much to the consternation of the lady on the right.

The front steps of Barcelona Cathedral.

The front steps of Barcelona Cathedral.

The Gothic cathedral is 800 years old but its facade is Neogothic -- completed in the 19th century.

The Gothic cathedral is 700 years old but its facade is Neo-Gothic — completed in the 19th century.

Avinguda del Portal de l'Angel runs into Carrer del Bisbe where you can walk under Barcelona's version of Venice's Bridge of Sighs -- built in the 19th century.

Avinguda del Portal de l’Angel runs into Carrer del Bisbe where you can walk under Barcelona’s version of Venice’s Bridge of Sighs — built in the 19th century.

By this time we decided that we should turn around and head back toward our hotel. So we picked another network of alleys that eventually poured us out close to Placa d’Urquina which is only a couple of blocks from our hotel.

Store window display near Placa x.

Store window display near Placa de Sant Jaume.

Barcelona's City Hall.

Barcelona’s City Hall on Placa de Sant Jaume.

One of many alleys leading to the cathedral.

One of many alleys leading to the cathedral.

Ramon Berenger monument.

Ramon Berenguer III monument. Berenguer was the Count of Barcelona in the 11th century.

Street Sculpture display by Canary Island artist x near the Cathedral.

Street Sculpture display by Canary Island artist Julio Nieto near the Cathedral. The Fallen Angel has apples in his head.

So that was our Day # 3 adventure in Barcelona. On Day # 4 we took an all-day bus trip to Montserrat but didn’t get there until about noon. More about that day in the next few postings.

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About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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8 Responses to Barcelona’s Barri Gotic

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    I believe I mentioned in a previous comment that in 1960 I visited Barcelona with a friend. What a pleasure to read about the places we did not see at that time and view your beautiful photos!

  2. disperser says:

    Wow . . . not counting your wife, only two smiling people; the lady on the bike and woman dancing. Id everyone there in a bad mood?

    Nice photos. The cathedral photos were a bit small to see details, but otherwise interesting.

  3. If you click on any of the photos you will see a larger version of that photo. I learned that trick from you and MV Schulze. In some of the photos there are people listening to the music. They are not smiling but I think they are happy. The music was very good! And the members of the chorus were busy singing but most of them smiled when they finished. And most of the tourists who applauded did so with a smile.

    • disperser says:

      The landscape photos opened up to a good size. All of the portrait photos opened up a bit larger, but not by much. That’s sometimes caused by WordPress automatically choosing the size. Go in and look to make sure that clicking on the photo is set to open the Media File (the original you uploaded). Unless that’s the size you uploaded.

  4. magnificent images!! Art everywhere!

  5. Amy says:

    So enjoy your Barcelona series. Great photos!

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