Barcelona´s evocative Old Town and Gothic Quarter

This historic core dates back to ancient Bàrcino, founded around 13-15 BCE by colonists from the Roman Empire, with its spine the famous tree-lined pedestrian promenade La Rambla (aka Les Rambles or Las Ramblas) running 1.2 kilometres (three quarters of a mile) from Plaça de Catalunya down to the Christopher Columbus Monument near the waterfront. A onetime watercourse which developed into a street in the mid-15th century, these days it's touristy, yes (and watch our for pickpockets!), but undeniably marvelous for strolling, and also lined with kiosks, cafés, and shops. Here you'll also find landmarks such as the Mercat de Sant Josep (aka La Boquería), a huge and colourful covered market whose current iteration was established in 1853; the Liceu, the city's 176-year-old opera house; and the Maritime Museum, housead in the onetime medieval shipyard.

Flanking La Rambla to the east, the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter, often referred to simple as El Gòtic) is a warren of narrow cobblestone streets which apart from various shops, restaurants, and hostelries is home to some of Barcelona's oldest sites, including excavations of the original Roman walls; the cathedral (dating back to the 13th century); the gracious Plaça Reial with its many restaurants and cafés; and the similarly named, 14th-century Plaça del Rei (above, where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella received Columbus in 1493 after his voyage of discovery) and the surrounding Reial Major Palace, from that same era.

South of El Gòtic, the El Born district was for centuries the economic heart of the city, and the Basílica of Santa Maria del Mar is the heart of the neighborhood, although other attractions include the Picasso Museum, the two-year-old modern-art museum Moco right next door; and the exubertant Art Nouveau classical-music concert hall Palau de la Musica Catalana

Finally, on the other side of La Rambla from the Barri Gòtic is El Raval, once known as the Barri Xinès (Chinatown) and long famous for its nightlife and cabarets (but also its prostitution and crime). Even so, iif you use caution and common sense, it's fun to hit the eateries and bars here. There are also a number of cultural draws, including the Palau Güell, an early work (late 1880s) by Barcelona's  -and indeed, all of Spain's - most famous architect, Antoni Gaudí (whose designs are collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art).

Read more in Tripatini contributor
Rohny Jones´ post What Not to Miss in Barcelona.



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