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Barri Gòtic

Narrow, winding streets, atmospheric squares and a high concentration of magnificent buildings all lend the Gothic Quarter, the oldest part of the city, its character and charm. The town hall and the seat of the Catalan government, the latter an excellent example of Gothic and Renaissance style with its beautiful inner courtyards, face each other across the Plaça de Sant Jaume, which was once a Roman forum. Despite its colorful windows, the interior of the Gothic cathedral (La Seu) feels almost bathed in darkness. The Neo-Gothic façade was only completed in the 19th century, and the octagonal central tower was not finished until 1913.

The crypt under the high altar houses a marble sarcophagus containing the remains of Santa Eulàlia, the city’s patron saint. Geese are traditionally kept in the cloisters to ward off thieves. The Palau Reial Major, from which a broad flight of steps leads down to the Plaça del Rei, was once the home of the Counts of Barcelona and later the Kings of Aragón. It was in the Saló del Tinell, a magnificently vaulted throne room almost 120 feet long by 60 feet wide, that the Inquisition judged whether people should live or die, and that in 1493 Christopher Columbus told the Catholic kings about the New World.

© Berlitz Publishing/Apa Publications GmbH & Co KG, Singapore Branch, Singapore

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