Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter)#3 in Best Things To Do in Barcelona
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The Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter, is the oldest part of Barcelona, and considering its location next to the city center, also its most liveliest. Here, you'll find beautiful examples Roman and Medieval-era architecture rubbing elbows with the many shops, restaurants, alfresco cafes, bars and clubs that line this neighborhood's narrow roads and picturesque plazas. And there are so many plazas to explore. Aside from Plaça de la Catedral, which you'll no doubt end up in if you visit the Barcelona Cathedral, make sure you stop in Plaça Reial and the smaller and much quainter Plaça Sant Felip Neri, which was bombed by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War (you can see scars from the attack on the church in the square). The palm tree-clad Plaça Reial is much more energetic and usually buzzes till the wee hours of the morning. Definitely come here to start your night out in Barcelona. Another notable plaza is Plaça Sant Jaume, where the Catalan seat of government has been since the Middle Ages. No matter where you end up in the Gothic Quarter, travelers say its Spanish splendor will leave you charmed long after you leave.
Visitors also say when visiting the Gothic Quarter, discard the map and just let yourself wander. The neighborhood isn't that big so you'll probably end up at top spots by mindlessly strolling. Some suggested taking part in a walking tour if you're interested in learning the history behind the neighborhood.
The Gothic Quarter is free to explore all hours of the day and night. The closest metro stops are Liceu and Jaume I. If you're interested in taking part in a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter, the Barcelona Tourism Board offers them. For more information on walking tours, as well as the Gothic Quarter, visit the Barcelona Tourism Board website.
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#1 Parc Güell (Güell Park)
Antoni Gaudí's Parc Güell is as whimsical as parks can get. The park was originally supposed to be a housing community for the rich, commissioned by Eusebi Güell. Güell hired Gaudí but the project eventually folded due to the land's incompatible building conditions. Gaudí continued on, modeling the park after gardens he had seen in England (Güell means English in Catalan) and building around the natural elements of the land instead of tearing them down.
Today's park covers 42 acres of space and features everyday park props with a twist that is quintessentially Gaudí. Instead of numerous benches spread throughout, here visitors will be greeted with one long, wavy stone bench adorned with vibrant mosaics and equipped with views of the ocean. And instead of drab administrative buildings, the welcome centers here (which house park souvenirs and learning materials on Gaudí and the park) look like buildings you'd see in a Dr. Seuss book. You'll also find plenty of picturesque pathways that weave along verdant vegetation, down cascading tiled staircases and through jagged stone columns and tunnels. While you're here, don't miss the chance to see the Sala Hipóstila. Located right at the entrance, the Sala Hipóstila was originally intended to be a marketplace. Today it serves as nothing more than to dazzle visitors with its stately stone columns and beautiful mosaic works, which you'll find dotted all over the ceiling. Other popular attractions here include the Casa Museu Gaudí (Gaudí House Museum), Gaudí's former home turned museum, and Turó de les Tres Creus, a lookout point with pretty impressive views of the city situated in the southwestern point of the park.
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