"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Barcelona Barri Gothic - Walking the Crooked Line

Restaurant in Hotel Royal Ramblas

I traveled to Barcelona solo and took a few days to see some of the sites again. I wasn't in a hurry this time, didn't have my guide book out, checking maps, looking for all the tours. That is the beauty of a great place the second time around. I ate dinner at a restaurant in the Royal Ramblas Hotel. Great Italian dishes. I snapped a few photos of the street lights and decorative features along La Rambla, but the real treat was saved for the next day when I went on a tour of the Barri Gothic.

Walking tour group led by Oliver
10 am on most weekdays (you can check the schedule at the tourist office on Plaza Catalunya only a few blocks from the Le Meridien where I stayed) they have a Gothic walking  tour that takes you through the labyrinth streets of Barcelona's oldest part dating back to Roman times. I had gotten lost and ended up in Raval a few years before so I decided the walking tour was the way to see everything in a short amount of time.

I arrived with only a few minutes to spare before the tour started. We had some confusion with the headsets while Oliver stressed over somebody not replacing the batteries and finally he opened a new box and we got started on our tour. The tour lasted about 2 hours and was chalk full of great sites. We walked around with our mouths hanging open in wonder. I think per square inch Barcelona has more great Gothic sites than anywhere else in the world, but I haven't been everywhere so maybe I am wrong.

Street lamp St. Jaume Place

 According to Oliver our guide, this is the only remaining Roman ruins in all of Barcelona ... they have torn all the rest down or built things over them or changed them in some way.
Roman walls

Here are some photos of the Barri Gothic walking tour. I cannot tell you what every Chapel or Cathedral is but I saw some great architectural features. 

These are some of the places we visited along the way:

Casa de la Pia Almmoina
In addition to being a fine example of Gothic architecture, this 11th-century building is of great historical interest as well. It was first the headquarters of a charity organization that used to provide a free lunch every day to 100 of the city's deserving poor, hence its popular name - Pía Almoina (the compassionate alms). Later, in 1450, it became home to the cathedral canons.  

San Felip Neri school children
San Felip Neri is a plaza or square where children go to play. The You tube video I uploaded at the beginning of this post is about the mystical qualities of this square. When we visited, the plaza was full of children playing, the laughter and joy of their voices and the sound of the fountain. The video is in Spanish, but it is wonderful to listen to the voice of the woman with the distinctive accent from Catalonia.

Casa de l'Arcadia is where the historical archives of Barcelona are kept.
It is part of the La Seu (or Santa Eulalia) Cathedral complex.

Casa de l'Arcadia

Area around the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia (or the La Seu) is full of wonderful architectural details such as iron doors,wall plaques, walkways, decorative railings and inset tiles.
Santa Eulalia is the seat of the Archbishop of Spain. 
There are a flock of geese that live in the courtyard.

Santa Eulalia plaque on wall
Geese in the courtyard of the Santa Eulalia Cathedral

The tour was great, informative, but in my typical fashion ... I turned off the headset halfway through and just enjoyed the ambiance ... the sights of old and decaying artifacts everywhere and smells of the damp walls. It was dark through part of the tour as no light enters these narrow walls. Then we would come upon a plaza and the sun would dapple through the trees. Not hearing but seeing and touching, I dreamed of a time long ago when people walked these crooked streets for the first time .... the Romans, in the 1600 and 1700s, even the Middle Ages. And I felt exquisite peace.


  1. What a wonderful photo of the Roman ruin. Never knew it was there.

  2. They actually have a Roman walk but most everything has been built on top of or destroyed.

  3. Loved the video. You are right about the accent. Beautiful and haunting. Great visuals.