Our last excursion with Go Barcelona Tours in Girona and Emporda was so much fun, we had to spend time with Gemma Coll once again! This time Gemma had her co-owner, Anna, lead Michael and I on one of their tours of Barcelona. We chose their Barrio Gotico and Picasso tour, as I’m a Picasso nut, and Michael loves history and architecture. We met in front of the Barcelona Cathedral and went on our adventure!
For those of you uninitiated to the nuances of Barrio Gotico in Barcelona, it is an area close to the Mediterranean and is the old centre of the city of Barcelona. Buildings and remnants date back to the time of the Romans and the area has maintained much of its historical charm.
While I’ve passed in front of the incredible Barcelona Cathedral many times, what I didn’t know was there is a portion of the original Roman aqueduct beside the cathedral, jutting out from one of the walls. Gemma gave us a detailed history behind the name of the city, and also more historical highlights of the square where the Cathedral sits.
Next, we wound through narrow, maze-like streets to a square I could never find on my own, Sant Felipe Neri. The square once housed a Jewish cemetery, and during the Renaissance, a baroque-style church was erected. During the Spanish Civil War, the square was bombed, resulting in the death of parishioners, including children, who were taking refuge in the basement of the church from General Franco’s bombings. The church still bares the scars of the bombs on the main façade. On this day, children were out of school, located close to the square, playing football around the fountain.
We visited the Jewish Quarter of Barcelona, and as noted by Gemma in the above video, has the smallest intersection in Barcelona! Gemma and Anna gave us more history of the Jewish settlement, showing us where stones had been recycled into other buildings throughout the Gothic Quarter.
No tour is complete without a visit to the seat of power in Barcelona, in Plaça Sant Jaume, where the regional government convenes in the Generalitat, and across the square is the city hall for Barcelona. Anna and Gemma gave us more details about the politics, and some little known trivia about both buildings. We’ve been sworn to secrecy, as it’s only available to those who go on the tour!
After stops at a few buildings close to the Generalitat, including the remnants of the Temple Augustus, where three pillars of the Roman temple had been discovered and now erected in memoriam, we walked up to Passeig de Gracia to take in more architecture, a stop at Casa Batllo, an outstanding lunch at a spot not known to tourists (where we enjoyed several glasses of Catalan wine, cava, and vermouth), and finally back to the Picasso museum.
Go Barcelona Tours offers a unique insight to the city of Barcelona, based upon their educational backgrounds, and their exhaustive research of the various areas of the city. However, unlike the typical city bus tours, Gemma and Anna have personality and make the tour not only educational, but massively fun. Michael and I felt like we were touring around the city with two friends who just happened to know everything Barcelona.
If you’re looking for a “real” tour of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and Picasso Museum (plus some time on Passeig de Gracia), I highly recommend them. Go Barcelona Tours also offers many other tours, with just as much expertise and fun as this particular tour.