CITINERARY: Barcelona Art Surprise!

  1. Casa Calvet de Barcelona (1899) is one of Antoni Gaudí’s earliest buildings. Some people consider it his most conservative work but it also contains markedly modernista elements, such as the façade which terminates in a curve and the attic balconies, which look like something from a fairy tale. The ground floor now houses a restaurant.
    What shapes are the columns that flank the entrance?
    Can you find the initial over the house’s door?

    Sweet taste: Chocolates Brescó

  2. This story starts in Paris at the end of the 19th century. Pere Romeu worked as an entertainments presenter and waiter in the cabaret Le Chat Noir. Seduced by this environment, he decided to create a similar restaurant in Barcelona. It had to be like a tavern: cheap food and piano music. Some friends backed him up financially, among other, Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol. It opened on June 12th 1897 in the Montsió Street in a building designed by the architect Puig i Cadafalch. It drew attention because it was unusual, refined and artistic details combined with objects could be seen as characteristic of a traditional hostel. It was a little more than an «imitation of Le Chat noir» as Rubén Darío, one of the first distinguished visitors, said; otherwise it would not have become a legendary place. 

  3. Barcelona’s oldest fountain built in 1356 is located at the junction between Carrer de Cucurulla and Avinguda del Portal de l’Àngel. Its origins lie in a trough once used by horses belonging to travellers staying at the nearby Hostal del Vallès and to the coaches that left the city from Plaça de Santa Anna, the old name for these crossroads. In fact, on the corner of Carrer de Cucurulla, you can still see part of the old trough, which is now used as a base for flower boxes. The installation was enlarged in 1375 and a fountain added which appears to have originally been eight-sided. Only five sides and two taps in the central part remain today, however.

  4. A small area crammed with elements that recount the history of Barcelona and its art brings you face to face with the monumental gateway in the wall of the Roman city of Barcino and Picasso’s friezes along the front of the Collegi d’Arquitectes. Its origins can be traced back to 1358, when it was the site of the city’s hay market. At the time, the locals could still see one of the four gates in the wall to the Roman city, which led to the Forum, along the Cardus. Two circular towers flank the gate that leads into the heart of the Gothic Quarter. These are the result of renovations carried out during the 12th century, although the origins of the defense towers and wall can be traced back as far as the 1st century BC and the 4th century AD. A replica of a section of the Roman aqueduct emerges from the side of the Archdeacon’s House, or Casa de l’Ardiaca, marking one of the points where water was conveyed to the city.

    Opposite, a visual poem by the Catalan artist Joan Brossa, spells out the word Barcino.

    Can you find the series of sand-cast friezes designed by Pablo Picasso and produced by the Norwegian Carl Nesjar: the “children’s frieze”, the “giants’ frieze”, and the “frieze of the Catalan flag”?

    For good luck in Barcelona, touch this turtle. If you look closely you’ll see this is really a letterbox. The birds symbolize the hope that you’ll get your mail soon, but the turtle is a nod to the reality of how slow the mail system really is.  This letterbox was designed by modernist architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner in 1902. Barcelona is full of stories and legends that have turned into fun traditions for tourists and locals too.

  5. Have you seen the various grotesque figures (from dragons to witches), decorating the roofs of some buildings in the city? These elements are mainly found in the el Gòtic and el Born neighborhoods, in what happens to be  the Old Town of Barcelona. The gargoyles were  mostly built between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries  with the intention of becoming the  drains on the rooftops of medieval cathedrals. Many of the sculptors who designed them were trying to capture in them their fears and superstitions. Through horrible ways  they tried to represent evil, therefore, many of the gargoyles are demons that recall the religious battle between good and evil.

  6. The narrow, labyrinthine streets of the Gothic Quarter come out into this unexpected spot. A tiny square with a charming little fountain in the middle and overlooked by the baroque church from which it takes its name. On one side, you can see the buildings that once housed the city’s shoemakers’ and coppersmiths’ guilds, which moved here from their premises on Carrer de la Bòria and Carrer de la Corribia, respectively. Next to the church, the school still survives. A plaque reminds us of the fact that a bombing raid by fascist planes ended the lives of 42 people, many of them children who had sought refuge in the air-raid shelter below the church. This square marks the entrance to Barcelona’s Jewish Quarter.

  7. This Quarter preserves its name from the time when it was the home of the Jews of Barcelona. Jews were present in the city from ancient times and had a very active role in the urban community of the Middle Ages. The street plan of the medieval Jewish quarter is preserved, together with abundant documents in the city’s archives. The Museu d’Història de Barcelona’s centre in the Call, located in the former house of the veil weaver Joseph Bonhiac, covers the important role played the Jews in the city’s history and the splendor of their cultural legacy which has survived through time and has a universal value.
    By the early 13th century, the Jewish population had grown so much that the district became too small for it. Barcelona’s Jewish community had also grown significantly after the arrival of Jews who had been expelled from lands belonging to the King of France. As a result, a new space known as the Call Menor was built outside the walled city. It was made up of five blocks of houses with a square and a synagogue. It is hard to imagine now what it looked like at that time, because the area has changed so much: the synagogue was turned into a church and a monastery, and when Carrer Ferran was built in the 19th century, the square disappeared.

  8. Born on April 20, 1893 Joan Miró i Ferrà first lives in a small passage way off Carrer de Ferran, Passatge del Crèdit, 4, Barcelona, near Plaça Sant Jaume. Miró’s parents Dolors Ferrá i Oromí (of Majorcan descent) and Miquel Miró Adzerias, a watchmaker and silversmith with his own store in Carrer de Ferran, notice his creative talent from an early age. Joan has an overwhelming urge to be creative, he is always busy making or drawing something. To stimulate his passion for the arts Miró’s parents send him to a private primary school in Carrer del Regomir 13, where the drawing lessons by Mr Civil become the driving force to keep him inside. 

  9. On the Pla de Palau, close to the waterfront, stands a building with a neoclassical façade which conceals one of Barcelona’s best-kept secrets: a jewel of Civil Gothic architecture. Throughout its history, it has been used for a number of purposes, which have all been linked with trade and seafaring life. It was built in the 14th century and extended a century later as a goods warehouse and commodity exchange. The neoclassical-style building we see today was constructed in the 18th century on the site of the medieval building. However, much of the original Gothic interior has been preserved. In 1775, it housed the Reial Acadèmia, an art school attended by the young Picasso and Joan Miró. Picasso’s father also taught here. 

  10. When Tibidabo didn’t exist yet, Sagrada Familia didn’t exist neither, neither Colon Monument nor France Station had been built, even before Ildefons Cerdà designed Eixample, you could still have found this restaurant in the Pla de Palau and Passeig d’Isabel II corner. For over 180 years it has become the most traditional restaurant in Barcelona, one of the oldest in the city and one of its most enduring symbols. Located at the Pòrtics d’en Xifré, a building of national architectural interest, it has been a privileged witness and participant of historical events: it was the first building in the city with running water and its architecture was featured in the first photograph taken in Spain.
    To this day continues to provide some of the city’s best seafood and paella dishes. It even served the young Picasso back when he was living in the city! Although everything on the menu is spectacular, the paella at this place is rumored to be the tastiest in all of Barcelona. Everything is prepared in the traditional manner with the utmost care for all of the ingredients. Yum!


  1. Casa Calvet & Chocolates Brescó
  2. Carrer de Casp, 48

  3. 4 Gats
  4. Carrer de Montsió, 3

  5. Font de Santa Anna
  6. Carrer de la Cucurulla, 6

  7. Plaça Nova, La Casa de l’Ardiaca
  8. Carrer de Santa Llúcia, 1

  9. Barcelona Cathedral
  10. Pla de la Seu, 3
    Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi, Carrer Montcada, Sant Pau Hospital

  11. Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

  13. MUHBA El Call
  14. Placeta de Manuel Ribé, 3

  15. Joan Miró Birthplace
  16. Passatge del Crèdit, 4, Barcelona

  17. Casa Llotja de Mar
  18. Passeig d’Isabel II, 1

  19. Restaurant 7 Portes
  20. Passeig d’Isabel II, 14


PDF: Barcelona Old Town Citinerary

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