Monday, 22 July 2013

Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Today, we visited Barcelona's Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter.  Not all the buildings in the Gothic Quarter are actually Gothic.  Some are Renaissance, for example, and some date from much, much earlier.  

The city of Barcelona has its origins in Roman times.  The Romans called the city 'Barcino'.  Parts of the old Roman wall can still be seen in this area.  On the Placa Nova, the visitor can see a surviving section of the old Roman aqueduct that brought water down from the hills and into the city.  Elsewhere, bits of the old Roman wall can still be seen.  If you walk down the Carrer del Paradis, and enter the building at number 10, inside you will find a sign saying 'Roman columns'.  When you follow the sign, you discover four 2,000 year old columns which are the remnants of the Temple d'Augustus, built by the Romans, and dedicated, so it is believed, to Emperor Caesar Augustus.  Nearby, in the Carrer del Regomir, is the Pati de Llimona.  Here, you can inspect what is left of the old Roman sewerage system.

The Barcelona Cathedral, which commenced construction in the 13th century, is the acknowledged centrepiece of Gothic architecture in the area.  It stands in front of the Placa de la Seu, one of the main thoroughfares in the Quarter.  The Cathedral took around 200 years to build.  We looked inside.  To me, the inside of the Cathedral was less than average looking, but it was the Cathedral's cloister that was surprising.  It boasted a moss-filled pond and fountain as well as palm trees and orange trees, and even....finish the sentence......about a dozen geese!

We had a quick look inside the Esglesia dels Sants Just i Pastor.  This church also took about 200 years to build, and was finished in the 16th century.  A beggar stood outside the entrance posing as the official person whose job it was to take a voluntary entry fee.  We also found the Casa de L'Ardiaca, or Archdeacon's House, which has a pretty courtyard and a mail box carved into the stone with five stone swallows and a turtle surrounding it.  We also found the Placa de Sant Felip Neri, a small square with a sad story.  During the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, a Fascist bomb killed around 40 people here, 20 of them children.  None of the buildings in the square is Gothic, and the Shoemakers Museum is Renaissance.

Many of the streets are narrow, and some are only three footsteps wide.  But they're cooler and sheltered.

Other points of interest in the area include the Palau de la Generalitat, the parliament of the self-governing territory of Catalonia.  We noticed a 'bridge' connects this building with another, the Casa del Canonge, or House of Canon, the residence of the President of the Generalitat.  

The last few days have been as hot as hell.  Apparently, it was 29 Celsius today but felt hotter.  It was the same temperature consistently when we were in Paris, but it didn't seem as bad there.  The last couple of days here, it's been in the 30s.

Parts of the old Roman wall, with Gothic tower behind
The Barcelona Cathedral
Narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter
Roman columns, remnants of Temple d'Augustus
The old Roman sewerage system
The aqueduct 
Last portion of the old Roman aqueduct 
The geese

No comments:

Post a Comment