Barri Gòtic, Barcelona
Favorite thing: While it is hard to have a favorite place/neighborhood in Barcelona I was constantly drawn to the Bari Gotic area. It seemed like around every corner was another interesting photo op, especially at night where the lighting highlights the medieval era buildings.
Favorite thing: Over the course of 6 days in Barcelona, we had many meals, most of which were either terrible or just so-so. The best meals we ate were at the Mercat Santa Caterina, down the street from the Barcelona Cathedral and in the huge market that is covered by a flowing mosaic roof. I think the name of this restaurant was something like Santa Catererina Cuisin and it is located in the corner of this market. It is very sleek with an incredibly varied menu. We ate here twice during our stay and loved it each time. The other restaurant I would recommend is El Pi Antic, which is located on a small square (Plaza de Sant Josep Chirol) near Las Ramblas. This restaurant, which looks kind of dark from the outside, has a varied menu, and was filled with local diners both times we ate here. I would recommend the daily specials on the set price menu as these will definitely not disappoint.
Favorite thing: Just walk on the Barro gotico.It's full of small streets(totally different from the big ramblas),and think how it'd be during medieval.All the architecture remember it,and you can notice,great masterpieces,or very interesting shops just walking.It ever seems different.After a while you can stop in a bar(it's full of them) and just relax watching people walking.You can find also original things made of silk or other funny things in shops
We stumbled upon this area by accident. It is certainly a maze of twising and winding streets, punctuated by little squares filled with pigeons, quaint book shops and most importantly, bakeries! Mmmm, yum yum!
Fondest memory: This certainly was a pretty relaxing area, with not too many tourists, but still the pick pockets and gypsies!
That really depends on three factors: how much time you've got, what you plan to do, and last but not least - your tastes and inclinations.
The area of Barrio Gotico and Las Ramblas is preferred by tourists, but I don't know anyone living in Barcelona who would want to live on Las Ramblas. Lively during the day and the center of nightlife, this neighborhood attracts tourists and pickpockets alike, so you always have to watch your belongings. In this sense, the area is dangerous, but it's highly unlikely that you'll get physically assulted here, or anywhere else in Barcelona. Having said that, I must warn you that the old town is more dirty and noisy than it is dangerous.
If you are here for just a few days and want to see as much as you can, then you should consider staying in Barrio Gotico. It would save you a lot of time on transportation. You can catch up on sleep when you get back home! :)
Barceloneta is another authentic picturesque neighborhood not far from the old town, but almost as dirty. It is close to the beach and known for seafood. If you are just two people travelling, you are most likely to find accommodation in this area because apartments here are smaller.
Fondest memory: Don't forget that Bcn is not such a big city (its fame is much bigger than its size), so what is important, in my opinion, is that the area is centric and well communicated by bus and metro to other parts of the city. Eixample, Gracia, and Vila Olimpica are such areas.
Eixample is a wider center of the city, and some parts of it are nicer than others. I like the areas of Paseo de Gracia, Sagrada Familia, and Parc de la Ciutadella.
Gracia is a popular area located above Eixample, and populated mainly with younger generation. It's relaxed atmosphere can be enjoyed on one of its many plazas with bars, restaurants and shops. Artsy and original, this neighborhood is lively but not wild.
Vila Olimpica is a posh area, located by the beach. With well-trimmed parks and recreational facilities, swimming pools, tennis courts, hiking paths, large shopping center and cinema in English, it is close to the Zoo and Barcelona Aquarium, and thus ideal for family holidays. It is an elite neighborhood with night clubs and casinos, also recommended to those who seek glamour, because that's as fancy as Barcelona gets!
Romans came to this place more than 2000 years ago, and founded the city of Barcino. They chose to build the city on a sandy enclave on the northeastern Iberian coast, situated between the mouths of two rivers, Llobregat and Besós, and protected by the Collserola mountainrange.
This was a very strategic position, well communicated by land and sea, and protected by the landscape and the citywalls. Over the centuries the city grew to become the capitol of Catalunya and Spains main tradingport.
Barcelona's history is quite fascinating:
The Romans conquered and named the port of Barcino in 133 BC. By the time Charlemagne liberated the city from Moorish invaders in 801, it was called Barcelona. Barcelona flourished in the 12th?14th centuries, when the superb medieval old town area, the Barri Gotic, was founded. (It remains the heart of the city today, packed with shops, restaurants and bars.) In 1474, Catalunya was united with the rest of Spain by the marriage of the 'Catholic Kings', Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. They welcomed the explorer Christopher Columbus back from his first voyage to the New World in Barcelona harbor in 1493.
In the 15th century AD, the town of Barcino was founded by the Romans. It was a prime location for trade throughout the Mediterranean, and by the 4th century, thousands of Christians and Jews had settled here. Great stone walls were built to fend off the many enemies of the Roman Empire.
Taken over by first the Visigoths, then the Moslems, Barcelona went through many stages of neglect and government rule. After Frankish control at the turn of the first millenium, the independent state of Catalonia was finally recognized.
Between 1500 and1700 Barcelona fought for its independence, but became part of Spain by 1714.
Fondest memory: Much of the original town of Barcino still exists. You can follow the ramparts, built in the 4th century, throughout the Barri Gotic. Many of the buildings standing today were built directly on top on the Roman foundations.
A close eye and attention to detail will reveal the history of this city.
There is a fascinating City History Museum at the King's Palace where yo can witness the ongoing excavation of the Roman village beneath the streets. Please see my "must-see" tip.
Favorite thing: For a great, get lost without worrying type of ramble, try the myriad of streets between Via Laietana and La Rambla (aka Las Ramblas). You can start with a quick tour of the old Cathedral on the Laietana side and then just head west toward La Rambla from there. Don't go in a straight line, follow the twists and turns of the awkwardly linked streets and alleys. All will be filled with locals, tourists, shops, vespas, cafes and any number of other temptations.
This is the name of the oldest quarter here, the historical core of BCN, around the Cathedral and the Palau de la Generalitat.
Most of the streets here are pedestrian, narrow alleys full of charm and ancient atmosphere.
It goes from the Catalunya Sq. to the harbour, from Las Ramblas to Via Laietana...
From Colon statue's top you can have a wonderful view of the Gothic Quarter, from the Ramblas to the Cathedral. It is all the old houses you see at the right of the Ramblas.
It is nice to see all the roofs from here, in some of them you can observe the daily life of people hanging up clothes for drying, sunbathing, floweres watering...
You could even see the Sagrada Familia temple from there...
Favorite thing: The district evolves. Lately, some artists come to get settled here, a whole small world of writers, painters, and intellectuals. gradually, this old district, poor and dirty becomes a fashionable district, for those that are to the forefront of the cultural current in the city...
Favorite thing: The alleys of the Bario Gothic offer the visitor who wishes to discover the other face of Barcelona, a vision on the striking contrasts of this city. In this district, always lived the most miserable laborious populations of the city. Here, the streets look like cut stuffs, and the tourist will be able to seem to be going to degrade in a quarter hulls gray and room. The truth is also to read in these dirty, smelling and sad alleys : the reality of an inhuman world that constantly runs after the productivity and that lets more and more living being on the side of the road, in misery, after having exploited them to the maximum.
Favorite thing: At the heart of the old town lies the Barrio Gòtic (Gothic Quarter), centered around the Catedral and Plaça Sant Jaume. This plaza, once the power center of Catalonia's kings, is still the site of city hall and the administrative buildings of the government of Catalonia.
Favorite thing: A maze of narrow streets and squares comprises the Ciutat Vella (Old City). It was built within the old Roman walls when Barcelona was one of the richest and most important Mediterranean trading cities.