Wandering through dark alleyways, confronting stone gargoyles and odd shadows is more fun than you think. Exploring the Barri Gotic neighborhood is one of the dreamlike experiences you can have in Barcelona. Don’t worry if you’re terrified of gargoyles. Barcelona has enough action for you to choose your adventure.
You’ll need a home base to explore the city. Le Meridien Barcelona, a full service luxury hotel, is located in the Gothic Quarter. The Eurostars Monumental is an affordable option in the Eixample district, home to many Gaudi projects. Both come highly recommended and are bookable through hotels.com. You can also find guest house rentals, called pensiones, through trusted sites like housetrip.com. The site pre screens listings, handles payments after check-in and claims 24/7 customer service. Sites like hostels.com and hostelworld.com list reviews and help you book a more affordable home away from home. Whichever neighborhood you choose, the city center is extremely walkable and serviced by a simple train line making Barcelona highly accessible.
Once you’ve dropped off your bags, head to Las Ramblas, the most famous street in Barcelona. Las Ramblas is a pedestrian path packed with restaurants, performers and craftsmen. It’s an easy stroll that puts you in the center of Barcelona’s action. Explore the attached market known as La Boqueria. Here you’ll find snacks, flowers and artsy souveniers. Strolling the avenue (which is free fun) will bring you near the Virreina Palace, the home of the culture institute. The Teatre Principal, Barcelona’s oldest theatre also calls Las Ramblas home. The port lies at the end of Las Ramblas for a dazzling water view.
La Sagrada Familia
Less sophisticated cities slap up buildings in a year or two. Construction on Anton Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia has been constant since 1882. La Sagrada Familia depicts the nativity, the crucifixtion and other historic Holy events. Gaudi intended the building to be a stone testament of the bible. Enjoy the building from outside or pay 15 euro to go inside. The forest like interior is almost complete. It’s full of beautiful, bright colored stained glass and is worth the admission price. The building’s design include windows to poke your head out of for closer views of the stonework. Grand in scale and awe inspiring upon closer inspection, La Sagrada Familia is a can’t miss sight. It isn’t Gaudi’s only featured work in Barcelona. Casa Batillo and Casa Mila also grace Barcelona’s cityscape in the Eixample neighborhood nearby.
Barcelona’s bold displays of public art and detailed architecture will keep your camera clicking. The boldest of all, Anton Gaudi’s artwork is displayed throughout Barcelona. Parc Guell is a Gaudi designed green space that overlooks the city. The sculpture filled park, delights art lovers, tourists and children staring at the colorful statues. Take the metro bus to arrive in less than 20 minutes from the city center. Spend an afternoon people watching, relaxing or analyzing art. Fair warning, walking there from the city center is doable, but will take a little over an hour at a steady pace.
After walking all day, you’ll crave dinner at one of Barcelona’s world renowned restaurants. Try Passeig de Gracia Avenue for meals at grand eateries. Passeig de Gracia is home to ultra luxury and where the “money is no object” locals and tourist come to play. Moments, in the lush Mandarin Oriental, is the two michelin star darling of Barcelona cuisine. The popular chef’s tasting menu gets raves for its fresh, themed mini dishes. For a less wallet intensive meal, head to the Eixample neighborhood where Vic Braseria Steakhouse or crowd favorite Atapa-It reside. Each serves classic Catalan dishes and ethereal interpretations of old favorites. Try fish with Fideuas, best described as a scrumptious seafood paella made with noodles instead of rice. Traditionally it is made with a fish like squid and monkfish then combined with shellfish like shrimp and mussels. Catalayunans scoop in a garlicky allioli to add even more flavor to the dish. Add a Spanish cava, rioja or sangria and you’ll never want to leave.
The Barri Gotic (The Gothic Quarter)
After a late dinner, brave the gruesome gargoyles living on top of Barcelona’s Gothic Buildings. The scary looking creatures have the important task of saving attached buildings from water damage. But even as saviors, they feel eerie and intimidating. This neighborhood bears the hallmarks of Gothic Architecture with its soaring columns, pointed archways and vivid stain glass windows.
The Barri Gotic is the center of old Barcelona. Several important landmarks like the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Eulalia call the haunting quarter home. Named after a martyred, virgin Saint, the cathedral, known as the Barcelona Cathedral for short, serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. Placa Reial, a busy square full of tourists and locals is worth a visit for the people watching alone. The labyrinth alleyways in Barri Gotic also hide shops, restaurants and other historical buildings.
With friendly people, gourmet food, whimsical art and an independent spirit, Barcelona is a city like none other. If you’re lucky enough to visit, bring a camera, sturdy walking shoes and an open heart to fully experience what Spain’s coastal jewel has to offer. Just be careful with Barcelona; she might cast a spell that convinces you to turn in your passport and stay.