-Sant Jaume square (City Hall)
Barcelona private tour guide Gothic District
This section of Barcelona is the one treasuring the eldest settlement. It is a must-see spot which preserves not only buildings from ancient times, but also the lifestyle. This private tour is a trip in time, to the Gothic period when the city was ruled by Aragon Monarchs more than 600 years ago.
The main site is the Cathedral, which works started in 1298 and was financed by donations from the Kings. You will get to know about the construction details and issues searching the main features and we can visit its interior designed to hold 50 chapels dedicated to local popular saints and bishops. This Gothic construction, even being very old, was not the first Cathedral in Barcelona, there are still few remains from the previous constructions at the basements of the History Museum (MUHBA). We also visit the Royal medieval Palace, meant to be a private residence for the King of Aragon and his guards. It was abandoned at the 16th century, used by religious powers later and until 20th century. Now it holds the History Museum (MUHBA) and the Archives of the Aragon Crown, where only licensed guides can take you.
The Roman walls are standing on an edge of Cathedral Square, built up to protect the first settlement of Barcelona more than 2,000 years ago in the times of the Roman Empire. That Roman colony was reorganized after the defeat of the Empire and transformed in Gothic times into a citadel for the King and his staff, including a community of Jews. Then this community was called Call (Qahal in Hebrew) and it was also used as the name for their quarter. In 1492 Jews were expelled by Catholic Monarchs leaving still prints on the old district and plenty of popular anecdotes and legends that you will learn during our private tour.
To continue this personal tour, we will stroll around some streets of the old district where many buildings still have the ancient and dramatic gargoyles designed in middle ages. It is here where you may also find the oldest business in town (a candle store from 1761), craft shops, cafes and restaurants. You’ll find Sant Jaume square which in 19th century was refurbished to host the new modern institutions: the City Hall and the Catalan Government. Being the political centre of the city and the region, it is often occupied by demonstrations, events or folkloric dances.
In the following period Barcelona city was in any case abandoned and locals managed to be adapted to new economies and roles. Those were years of social revolts, bandits and thieves in Catalunya, but also the ones of luxury, cultural growth and political reorganization of the Spanish Empire. Inspired in new values, Barcelona did not expand but could refurbish the main sites: churches, hospitals, convents, the university, guild’s houses, palaces… The artistic expression was the Baroque style, especially after the Protestant Reformation which was condemned in southern European countries.
The district, urbanised in narrow and intricate streets is restricted to car traffic so the tours are always on foot. In the Old District of Barcelona you’ll find also amazing sites from modernisme artstyle as the Palace of Cataln Music by Domenech or Palace Guell by Gaudi. Also at this District you’ll find the most famous street for leisure in Barcelona: Rambla.