The Ciutat Vella district (Old town) is the historical centre of Barcelona and is divided in 4 quarters: Barrio Gòtic (gothic quarter), Raval, Borne and Barceloneta.
The Gothic Quarter is the historical centre and the oldest part of the ciy of Barcelona and until nowadays it is the centre of the political and institutional representation. Some of the most interesting places of the zone are the Cathedral, the Church of Santa Maria del Pi and the squares (the Plaza del Rei, the plaza Real,the plaza del Pi y La Plaza Sant Jaume with the City hall of Barcelona and the Government of Catalunya). The Gothic quarter is, going down from the Plaza Catalunya, on the left of the famous Ramblas (a boulevard of 2 km that runs from the Plaza Catalunya to the waterfront). The narrow streets of the gothic quarter and their squares are full of stores, street-cafés, terraces, bars and restaurants. One of the oldest restaurants is Los Caracoles, still having a kind of original atmosphere, is located in a narrow street of the Ramblas. Another famous restaurant is the Els Quatre Gats, frequented by Picasso and other avant-garde artists in the beginning of of the last century, in a Modernisme building by Puig i Cadafalch.
Walking down the Ramblas from Plaza Catalunya, the Raval is the quarter on the right side. The Raval (known formerly as the Chinese quarter) has been the Bohemian quarter of the city, because it was the quarter of the artists, intellectuals, transvestites and prostitutes, and until today it maintains a Bohemian air. Nowadays it is the most multicultural and exotic quarter of Barcelona. The Raval is changing permanently (although they are still the second hand stores left from before and original bars like the Pastis, the London y the Marsella). In the Raval you can find stores that offer food from all over the world, modern bars and restaurants and cultural centers, like the MACBA museum (Museum of Contemporary Art, a new construction) and next door the CCCB (The Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona, the building is a combination between modern and old architecture). And for the lovers of classical music the Liceu (Opera House), which has been reconstructed after the fire in 1994 and has preserved a great part of its magnificent interior. Since reopening the Liceu has diversified its programme to include concerts and recitals. One of the oldest ball rooms is the Paloma, a classic example for the leisure offer of Barcelona and loved by young and old. The music style varies between the traditional dance music (in the evening) and the most recent techno sound (at night).
Born / Sant Pere / Santa Caterina
In the Born, Sant Pere and Santa Caterina, which are a part of the La Ribera quarter, you will find one of the most impressive buildings of the catalan gothic architecture in Barcelona, the church of Santa Maria del Mar, it is said that it is one of the most beautiful churches of Europe. Behind the church starts the Montcada street, with plenty of old palaces which are nowadays in his majority, museums (Picasso Museum, museum of Textile) or art galleries. Also very close is the Palau de la Música Catalana , an authentic music palace, an extravagant mixture of sculpture, mosaic, glass and tile, especially in the interior. The Borne quarter has changed into a modern and fashionable place, full of live during day and night with its stylish designershops, its artgalleries, its trendy bars and modern restaurants.
Barceloneta is the traditional sailors and fishermen quarter, and the smallest of the 4 quarters of Ciutat Vella. During a time the quarter was an industrial and harbor zone, but it also had the only beach of the city. In the narrow streets of Barceloneta it is still possible to find the typical restaurants and bars from earlier times where they serve very good fish and seafood dishes. With the Olympic Games in 1992 Barcelona opened to the sea and the districts next to the Barceloneta (as the Vila Olímpica and Diagonal Mar) changed completely and Barcelona recovered its beaches. Barcelona today has along its coastside numerous beaches with more than 4 km lenght. From the Barceloneta beach you can walk (if you don’t stay on one of the beaches) until the last beach of Barcelona in the area of the FORUM 2004.
The Gracia district has always been a district of small industries and craftsmen and there still remains a kind of village character. It is not easy for the visitor to find his way around in its narrow streets and small squares like for example some of the most famous ones: the Plaça del Sol, the Plaça Vierreina, the Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia (also known as Plaça Rius y Taulet) and the Plaça del Diamant. There are terraces in the squares where you can drink your coffee in the morning, have lunch at noon, supper at night and later on a drink in one of the bars around them. There are a lot of restaurants which offer all type of food, from Catalan kitchen to the most exotic dishes and for the entertainment there are theaters, cinemas (f.e. Verdi Cinema with films in original version) and champagne or cocktail bars. The famous Fiesta de Gràcia, a popular street festival, is celebrated between the second and the third week of the month of August. For the fiesta the neighborhood of Gràcia decorate their streets using different themes and organize a competition with prizes for the best street decoration. The fiesta goes on with live music performances and dancing until late in the night and other street events. From Gràcia quarter you will be in the centre by metro with the green line L3 (Digaonal station or another station to Plaza Catalunya) in 5 minutes or 20 minutes by walk to Plaza Catalunya.
It can be said that the district of the Eixample is the center of Barcelona because of its geographic location and for being an important business and shopping area. The Passeig de Gràcia divides the district into the Eixample dreta (starting from Plaza Catalunya to the right) and the Eixample esquerra (starting from Plaza Catalunya to the left). The Passeig de Gràcia is the most elegant avenue of Barcelona where all the great designer names are represented. The Passeig de Gràcia is also famous for one of the masterpieces of Antoni Gaudí (La Pedrera) and other buildings of the Modernisme. The Eixample also called the gold Square (Cuadrado de oro) contains the greatest amount of modernist buildings of the city. At the border to the right of the Eixample district, in a higher part, lies the district of the Sagrada Família, with the famous temple of Antoni Gaudí, the Sagrada Familia.
The Poble Sec is a quarter of the district of Sants-Montjuïc situated between the mountain of Montjuïc and the avenue of the Paral·lel. This avenue (famous years ago for its cabarets, theaters and cafés with life-music, some of them are still working) separates the Poble Sec of the Raval district. Poble Sec: The Poble Sec has been always a popular district and nowadays it is a pleasant zone, with squares and calm streets, where the visitor finds many bars of traditional style, but also very modern bars and good restaurants. The Poble Sec is a perfect starting point to discover a great city like Barcelona, because it is close to the Ramblas and the port of Barcelona. From the metro station Paralel·l (L3) in the Avenida del Paral·lel it is possible to go up to the Montjuïc mountain with the Funicular and continue with the Teleférico to the Castle of Montjuïc. If you prefer to walk, you can climb up the hill from some streets of Poble Sec or from the Plaza Espanya. Walking up to the Montjuïc is recommended for its spectacular views of Barcelona.