Ciutat Vella ( Old Town ) district
Ciutat Vella is translated from Catalan as “Old City.” In the district of Barcelona, it is district number one. It holds over 100,000 people, and is over four square kilometers in size. The streets are small, winding, and labyrinth like in some places, and many are very picturesque. The streets are full of surprises, especially in the morning when it is quiet, and in the late morning when the streets explode with crowds of people. Many of the areas have a historic feel and atmosphere about them, and tourists often fall in love with the Gothic quarter.
Within Ciutat Vella, there are four administrative neighbourhoods
- El Gòtic is known as the Gothic quarter, and it is in the centre of Ciutat Vella. Some of the buildings date back to the medieval era, and the city planners have maintained the old labyrinthine street plan.
- El Raval is the area closest to the port, stretching north of its neighbourhood toward the Eixample distict. The population’s ethnicity is very mixed here, this part of the city has become a minor attraction because of it.
- Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera and El Born are the neighborhoods in Ciutat Vella, here you can walk through narrow medieval street, arches, little squares and magnificent churches and famous historic spots.
- La Barceloneta neighbourhood was constructed during the 18th century as a home for the displaced population of the Ribera neighbourhood. LaBarceloneta faces the Mediterranean Sea.
Ciutat Vella, the old town, is the historic nucleus of Barcelona and covers a small area.
When you discover Ciutat Vella, you will discover the origins of Barcelona. Until the mid-19th century, the city was hemmed in by its medieval walls which roughly followed the Avinguda Paral·lel, Ronda de Sant Pau, Ronda de Sant Antoni, Carrer de Pelai, Passeig de Lluís Companys and Parc de la Ciutadella.
The walls were demolished in 1854, and the only surviving fragment once housed the medieval shipyards (the Drassanes, now the city's maritime museum, the Museu Marítim) and was part of the gate known as the Portal de Santa Madrona. Ciutat Vella comprises four large districts. In the centre, is the Gothic Quarter, the oldest part of Barcelona. To the east, on the other side of the Via Laietana, is the district comprising Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and La Ribera − home to the Born quarter − which is the medieval extension of the Gothic Quarter. To the west, on the other side of La Rambla, is the Raval, which originated from the rural roads outside the city walls and was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution in Spain in the 19th century. And to the south, Barceloneta, the fishing district built in the 18th century to rehouse the people from the Ribera whose homes had been demolished to make way for the military citadel.
The urban fabric of this district is irregular and random. Like a palimpsest, it has accumulated the traces of the last 2,000 years of history, from Roman Barcino, the Barcelona of the Middle Ages, to the multicultural and cutting-edge Barcelona of the 21st century. A stimulating ensemble of extraordinary landmarks and streets containing cultural, culinary and artistic attractions that you must savour at your own pace.
El Gotico, Gothic Neighbourhood
The Barrio Gótico, in the Ciutat Vella district, is located between Las Ramblas, Vía Laietana, Paseo de Colón and Plaza de Cataluña. It is one of the most beautiful, historic areas of the capital. It is also amongst Barcelona's most unique quarters. A visit to Barrio Gótico is like a trip to the past to discover the early Roman Barcino remains and the medieval city of narrow streets, squares with palaces, residences, and gothic churches, museums. The narrow, winding streets create quite a labyrinth and means that it may take a while to get your bearings. But that is the unique beauty of Barrio Gotico.
I recommend that you should always look up and around you or you may miss some of the best details. This is the best time to immerse yourself and be mindful in what your see and experience with a sense of curiosity. Make sure you walk around, stop in order take in all you can little by little.
You will be spoiled for choice of restaurants and bars, especially around Plaça Real which is always busy day and night. The night-life in the Gothic Quarter is lively, to say the least, and you will always find somewhere to have a drink or a dance. Carrer Ferran, which is just to one side of Plaça Reial and leads up to Plaça Sant Jaume with its imposing government buildings is also good for bars and cafes.
Shopping in the Gothic Quarter is such a unique experience, from the more commercial area of Calle Portal de L'Angel to all the little boutiques on Calle Avinyo.
Here below a little map to give you an idea about the area of Barrio Gotico, its borders and its main streets plus Metro stations.
Gothic neighbourhood (Barrio Gotico) main metro stations you can use are;
Along la Rambla bordering with Eixample left side, El Raval :
Placa Catalunya RED L1 and GREEN L3 line
Liceu GREEN L3 line
Dressanes GREEN L3 line
Along via Laietana bordering with Eixample right side, la Ribera, el Born
Urquinaona RED L1 and YELLOW L4 line
Jaume I YELLOW L4 line