Cradle of writers, architects and artists, the Ciutat Vella of Barcelona is one of those select and incredible jewels, as the writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón used to say: “For me, Barcelona is a woman. And she’s an extremely smug woman”. Stretching, narrow and cobbled streets, history on every corner, balcony and church door. The Gothic Quarter is the most touristy and enigmatic area of a city as beautiful as cosmopolitan.
Curiosities and legends: The secrets of the Gothic Quarter
The four Roman columns of the Temple of Augustus
Authentic survivors of the history have been hidden for 2,000 years. They are located in a building on the street Paradís, next to the Plaza de Sant Jaume. Measuring 9 meters in length, they are the remains of the Temple of Augustus, constructed at the end of the first century for this emperor.
The Gothic fountain of the Plaça Sant Just
Its construction was ordered by Joan Fiveller, in the XV century, after finding a spring in the Mountain range Collserola while he was hunting. He liked the water so much that he ordered to bring it to the fountain of Sant Just, which was the first public source of water in the city. At the square is located the church Sant Just y Pastor. The legend says that in this basilica there was a pagan temple where human sacrifices were made. It is believed that in that place there was the “sacrifice pit” used to throw Christian victims. The families of these people dug galleries to reach the bodies thrown to the bottom. The galleries were transformed into catacombs and later the church and a cemetery were built. The pit was closed because at night the ghosts of the victims were heard.
Puente del Bisbe
Between the Generalitat and the Casa dels Canonges is located this bridge, which has a skull (which brings bad luck if you look at it) and a dagger in the central part. Built in 1928, the bridge has several myths around it: the most known that Barcelona will sink if someone removes the dagger.
The mailbox of the Casa de l’Ardiaca
The house was built in the XII century, although in the XX century after the reconstruction it was converted it into the headquarters of the Bar Association of Barcelona. In the reconstruction there was included a modernist mailbox that referred to justice. The result was a piece with the School’s Shield, which consists of three swallows looking down with open wings, ivy leaves and a turtle looking towards the birds. The explanation is intriguing: although justice must be as swift as the swallows, the bureaucracy, like an ivy leaf, is introduced everywhere and that causes justice to be as slow as a turtle. It’s currently the headquarters of the Historical Archive of the city of Barcelona.
In the Gothic Quarter is the oldest shop in Barcelona, called Cerería Subirà, founded in 1761. In the street Sant Domènec del Call is the oldest house in Barcelona (12th century). Also, between its streets is the oldest fountain, Santa Anna, 1356. And Can Culleretes is the second longest-lived restaurant in Spain, with more than 228 years delighting palates.
Do you need more reasons to visit the secrets of Gothic Quarter? We are waiting for you in Barcelona!