One of my best days in Barcelona was spent exploring the Gothic Quarter. It’s easy to get lost wandering through the narrow streets that wind around the medieval buildings the area is known for. There is always a crowd surrounding the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, one of the Gothic Quarter’s major attractions. But walk a minute or two down any of the tiny streets nearby and you’ll find it much more peaceful. However, any visitor ought to stop by the main square to see the outside of the cathedral, which is so tall it casts a shadow over most of the surrounding buildings.
Across from the cathedral is an equally impressive work, this time by Picasso. He painted an enormous mural on the side of a building. Because it’s so large, it’s hard to miss. However, few in the crowd surrounding the cathedral seemed to be admiring this peace of art. I didn’t visit the Picasso museum (also located in the Gothic Quarter) because of the line snaking around the building, so I’m glad I was able to see some of his work.As I walked away from the cathedral to escape the crowds, I noticed the exit of a building that was guarded by men in uniform. I walk around to the other side of the building to see if I could get in and sure enough, I was allowed through after going through security. To my surprise, it turned out this building that had such an unassuming exterior was actually the Casa de la Ciutat, a government building. It was truly a hidden gem and turned out to be the highlight of my visit to the Gothic Quarter!
After leave Casa de la Ciutat, I made my way to the Temple d’August. This is also a popular attraction in the Gothic Quarter, but when tour groups aren’t passing through it’s a nice place to sit and rest your legs while taking in the ancient columns. Believed to have been built by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, these columns date back to 2 BC!
Exploring the surrounding neighborhoods is just as interesting as exploring the Gothic Quarter itself. Cheerful groups of locals stroll past at a leisurely pace. In fact, I’m not sure I saw a single local hurry anywhere the whole time I was in Spain. Life seemed much more relaxed there.
I can’t talk about my trip to the Gothic Quarter without mentioning the food. Close by is La Boqueria, the most popular market in Barcelona. Tons of stalls offer fresh goods ranging from fruits to spices to breads to meats to cheeses and so on. With so many things to try, it was difficult not to sample something from every stall. Of course, I had to try the freshly squeezed juices since every other person seemed to have one.
I also tried pintxos at a tapas bar a few streets away. Pintxos are small snacks consisting of bread and toppings like meat, cheese, and fish. They have toothpicks stuck through them, and at the end of your meal the server will count the toothpicks to see how many pinxtos to charge you for.