If you find youreself in Barcelona, one of the starting points of any exploration must be Barrio Gòtico. From human-castling building in Plaça Jaume to the history-steeped backstreets around the La Seu cathedral and the laidback, arty bars and cafes of its squares, Barrio Gòtico Barcelona is a place to combine time travel with carefree hedonism.
This article is part of our 100 Things to Do in Barcelona
1. Walk Around La Seu Cathedral
Although the imposing La Seu Cathedral's interior is impressive, a jaunt into the quiet alleyways along its walls offers equally pleasurable outdoors treats. Particularly, Carrer del Bisbe with its neo-Gothic bridge hanging over the street and Plaça Sant Felip Neri, with its fountain and bullet-holed walls, where you can sit down an enjoy whatever the ever-present buskers happen to be playing.
Read more about Barcelona Cathedral
2. Gothic Quarter Walking Tour
A walking tour is a great way to discover the stories and legends behind Barcelona's most antique district, and make new friends along the way. Read more about Barcelona Walking Tours.
3. Els Quatre Gats
This neo-Gothic cerveseria is a Barrio Gòtico institution. It dates back to the 1890s and, having held one of Picasso's first exhibitions, has always been popular bar with artists.
4. Human Towers and Sardana Dancing in Plaça Jaume
The best time to catch the jaw-dropping phenomena of human castle-building - Castellers - is during the La Mercé Festival in late September. Watching bodies scuttle to the tops of pyramids of arms and legs near the rooftops of Plaça Jaume's neoclassical palaces is a wonder to behold.
Throughout the year you can also catch Sardana dancing, every Sunday afternoon.
5. Plaça del Pi
A stone's throw from the hectic, circus-like Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona's most enchanting squares, enjoyed for its architecture, shops and laidback ambience. In the shadow of one of the city's finest Gothic churches there are market stalls, artists on deck chairs and chilled café terraces to lull you into an agreeable state of ambling.
6. Treasure-Hunting in the Gothic Quarter
There's treasure galore to be found wandering in the Gothic Quarter's backstreets. If retro fashion or local underground labels are your thing, head for Carrer Avinyó and the surrounding streets. For art, bric-a-brac and curios, dive into the antique stores along Carrer de la Palla. For traditional tiles, bowls or jugs, there's a ceramics emporium on Carrer Escudellers.
7. El Call Jewish Quarter
Before the Inquisition took a stranglehold on Barcelona, Jewish merchants played an important role in city life. Located between the Cathedral, Plaça Jaume and Plaça del Pi, El Call is their legacy. It's a pretty labyrinth of alleys, whose highlights are the Sinagoga Mayor - a synagogue deserted in the 14th century - and the Centre d'Interpretació del Call - a museum about Jewish life in medieval Barcelona.
8. El Bosc de les Fades
Its name means 'fairy wood', and this sangria-serving grotto just off the bottom end of Las Ramblas is decorated just like one. Fake trees, illusory mirrors, haunting music and simulated rainstorms are all part of the experience.
9. Museu d'Historia de La Ciutat
Overlooking the Plaça del Rei, where Columbus supposedly made a glorious re-appearance after returning from the New World, the City History Museum is full of Roman remains and centuries-old treasures. It charts the story of the city from early Iberian settlement to its golden age as a medieval port, via conquest by the Visigoths and Moors.
10. Plaça del George Orwell
This square is a slice of alternative Barcelona. Also known as Plaça del Tripi (The Trippy Square), it has a bizarre postmodern monument at its centre, bars full of Barcelona's freakiest dressers and the presence of a multitude of security cameras and police vans keeping an eye on perpetually unruly shenanigans. Plaça George Orwell is never dull.