The Gothic Quarter. Quinn Morris January 23, 2006 France/Spain Miniterm. The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic).
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The Gothic Quarter is the true heart of Barcelona. The oldest part of the city, it was the site chosen by the Romans in the reign of Augustus on which to found a new town, and has been the location of the city’s administrative buildings ever since. The Roman forum was on the Plaça de Sant Jaume, where now stand the medieval Palau de la Generalitat, Catalonia’s parliament, and the Casa de la Ciutat, Barcelona’s town hall. Close by are the Gothic cathedral and Royal Palace, where Columbus was received by Fernando and Isabel on his return from his voyage to the New World in 1492.
This compact gothic cathedral, with a Romanesque chapel and beautiful cloister was begun in 1298 by Jaime II on the foundations of two previous buildings, one a Roman temple and the other a Moorish mosque. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Eulalia, the patron saint of Barcelona. Often, there are dances and shows which take place in front of the cathedral.
Seat of the regional Catalan government, the Palau de la Generalitat dates from the early 15th century but has been remodeled over the centuries. The facade shown is a late 15th century development facing onto Plaça de Sant Jaume with the original main facade down a narrow side-street. The interior is based around a large courtyard (formerly a Orangerie) and has grand ceremonial rooms and meeting halls.
Better known as the Ayuntamiento, Casa de la Ciutat is located directly opposite the Generalitat in Plaça Sant Jaume. There are two ways to get in, via the neoclassical-style entrance on Sant Jaume or the Gothic-style entrance on Carrer Ciutat. Both lead you in to the 15th-century Saló de Cent (The Hundred Room) where the city's most important ceremonies and functions (awards ceremonies, book launches, conferences) take place. In the hallway, you'll pass impressive sculptures by Pablo Gargallo, Josep Llimona and Rebull as well one of Ràfols Casamada's paintings dating from 1982.
Standing beside what was originally the Bishop’s Gate in the Roman wall is the Archdeacon’s House. It was built in the 12th Century, but its present appearance dates from around 1500 when it was remodeled and a colonnade added. In 1870 this was extended to form the Flamboyant Gothic patio around a fountain. The Modernista architect Domènech I Montaner added the fanciful marble letterbox, carved with three swallows and a tortoise, beside the Renaissance portal. The Municipal Institute of Barcelona History is upstairs.
Sculptor Frederic Marès was also a traveler and collector and this museum is a monument to his eclectic tastes. Part of Royal Palace Complex, it was opened in 1948. It contains an outstanding collection of Romanesque and Gothic religious art, as well as exhibits of clocks, costumes, pipes, pinup postcards, etc.
This royal palaces is believed to be where Isav]bel and Fernando received Columbus upon his return from the new world. It is also where the Inquisition sat, believing that the walls would move if lies were told. The count-kings of Barcelona lived here during the 13th century.
Nestled behind the Cathedral, the City History Museum tells the story of Barcelona in a series of buildings that are interesting in their own right. The highlight, though, lies beneath the medieval buildings where the Roman city has been extensively excavated and preserved. It's fascinating and an amazing achievement.