The Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter, forms the very heart of the old town, spreading out from the east side of the Ramblas. It’s a remarkable concentration of medieval buildings principally dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when Barcelona reached the height of its commercial prosperity before being absorbed into the burgeoning kingdom of Castile. It takes the best part of a day to see everything here, with the cathedral – La Seu – a particular highlight, and you certainly won’t want to miss the archeological remains at the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat or the eclectic collections of the Museu Frederic Marès. That said, sauntering through the atmospheric alleys or simply sitting at a café table in one of the lovely squares is just as much an attraction.
The picture-postcard images of the Barri Gòtic are largely based on the streets north of c/de Ferran and c/de Jaume I, where tourists throng the boutiques, bars, restaurants, museums and galleries. South of here – from Plaça Reial and c/d’Avinyó to the harbour – the Barri Gòtic is rather more traditional (or sometimes just plain run-down).