Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona. However, nothing is what it seems.

The Gothic Quarter is one of the crowdest areas of Barcelona. First, there are millions of tourists willing to live the city they’ve seen in films like Vicky Cristina Barcelona or The Perfume. They want to get lost in its streets, have a few drinks and share the experience with friends and family. Second, because it has cult bars for locals, who see mystery in every corner and lamppost thanks to books like The Shadow of the Wind. Everyone has compelling reasons to fall in love with the neighborhood. However, if one of these was Gothic architecture, they’d be disappointed. It turns out that the Gothic Quarter is not as Gothic as it is said. Moreover, it contains a series of buildings and monuments that were modified during the twentieth century.

The authenticity of the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is a controversial issue. It is true that there are buildings that date from this time, such as 13th century  Drassanes Reials (Barcelona Royal shipyard) or 14th century  contracting room of Barcelona’s fish market. However, the most emblematic buildings are not older than 150 years. A very striking case is that of popular Puente del Bisbe (Bishop’s bridge) built in 1929. In the case of Barcelona’s Cathedral, ​​it did not acquire its current appearance until its façade was finished in the 19th century. Another example is Plaza del Rey, which did not achieve its current appearance until 1934. Therefore, more than talking about a Gothic Quarter, we should consider naming it Neo-gothic quarter.

fotos del barrio gotico
Puente del Bisbe in Barcelona.


Then, why is it called Gothic Quarter?

The non-authenticity of the Gothic Quarter  came to light as a result of the doctoral thesis written by investigator Agustín Cócola, who explained it in his book The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona: planning of the past and brand image. According to his research, during the nineteenth century there was an interest in Barcelona bein known worldwide. Barcelona had to be an international destination, as had been done with Bruges or Florence. That’s why it was the headquarters of 1888 Universal Exhibition.

There was also the interest to create, in Cócola’s words, a legendary past for Catalonia. The style that best represented it was Gothic, not only because it was a valued style at the time, but also it evoked an era of Mediterranean domination.

fotos del barrio gotico
Barcelona Cathedral.


To sum up, according to Córcola, it acquired the name of Gothic Quarter as an attempt to attract tourism as well as a bourgeoisie identifying Gothic architecture  as a time of splendor of Catalan art and culture. The only truly Gothic buildings are the aforementioned Drassanes Reials, the Tinell Hall, the interior of Barcelona’s Cathedral, the Santa Àgueda chapel or the Casa Pia Almoina. However, whether it is Gothic, Neo-Gothic or vice versa, it is clear that if it is one of the most visited points of Barcelona. I is not a matter of architectural style, but of  beauty and a mysterious feeling in each corner.