Barcelona has many fantastic neighbourhoods, but the oldest, and perhaps most stunning for it's architecture and history is the gothic quarter, or "Barri Gotic". Barcelona was founded by the Romans atop the hill Mont Taber and was originally called Barcino. Las Ramblas, which runs through the old town, used to be a river, and the area which is now the Raval used to be countryside. Indeed the oldest church in Barcelona is in El Raval, Sant Pau del Camp (Saint Paul of the countryside).
Half way along the river that is now Ramblas, stood the old city gates - made from Iron and with the watering troughs for the thirsty horses. This can still be seen today at Calle Portaferrissa (literally "Iron door") - one of the city's main shopping streets.
The Gothic Quarter has some fantastic examples of Gothic architecture including the Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral, The Palau de la Generalitat with it's impressive chapel of Sant Jordi, and of course the city's main cathedral.
Many walking tours will take you along the old streets of the gothic quarter, where Roman ruins sit alongside brand new shops and some of the best and oldest restaurants in Barcelona. No visit to the gothic Quarter is complete without a trip into the Plaça Reial, with it's palm trees and fountain, as well as some of the first works to be comissioned by the famous Antonin Gaudi - the lamp posts. This is a favourite spot at any time of day or night to people watch and has an old antiques market on a Sunday, too, with coin collectors, stamps and other such collectables making you feel like you're back in the time of the "shadow of the wind".
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