Old City

Explore old city Barcelona, the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter), filled with medieval stone buildings, palaces of the count-kings of Barcelona, and churches, such as La Seu Cathedral. This district is also the site of the ancient Roman city Barcino enclosed by city walls - see excavated Roman ruins in the Barcelona History Museum.

Las Ramblas - The wide pedestrian promenade, nicknamed Las Ramblas, was once the road connecting the harbor with the old city. Today the tree-lined streets are colorful and lively, filled with musicians, flower, bird and souvenir stalls, human statues, and throngs of people strolling.
To walk up Las Ramblas, start at the Columbus monument, and walk north, toward the Plaça de Catalunya. Along the way, don't miss the red, yellow and blue mosaic on the pavement, designed by Joan Miro. At Plaça de Catalunya, you can keep on walking north through the residential neighborhoods of the Eixample district. On either side, you'll find lots of great places to grab a snack, and sample chocolate, pastries or ice cream.
La Seu Cathedral - La Seu, built in the 13- 15th centuries, is one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Spain, with golden colored stone, a soaring apse, spikey carved wooden choir stalls, stained glass windows, votive candles shining in the darkness. Be sure to look on the wall for the painted tombs of the count-king of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer I, and his wife Almodis (they must have been short people).
In the crypt is the beautiful white carved sepulcher of St. Eulalia, a patron saint of Barcelona and martyred in 304 AD. From the cathedral, step into the cloister, unexpectedly filled with greenery, clear bubbling fountains, statue of St. George and the dragon, and white geese!
Take the elevator up to the cathedral rooftop for views of the Gothic towers and Barcelona skyline. On the towers, look for sculptures of snails, lions, eagles, and gargoyles.
Barcelona History Museum (Museu d'Historia de Barcelona) - As a very modern city today, it's hard to imagine Barcelona centuries ago, when it was the Roman city Barcino. This museum is housed in medieval buildings, and under those buildings are Roman ruins, which have been excavated. Kids can explore the extensive remains of a Roman house, laundry, sewer, salted fish factory, wine making facility (complete with big vats where the wine was stored), church and necropolis. In the medieval era, the building became the palace of the count-kings (don't miss the nifty model of Barcelona at that time). Adjoining the museum is a Gothic chapel, St. Agatha's Chapel of the Royal Palace, with lovely stained glass and gilded altar piece. Tip: Museum is best with older kids.
When you exit the museum, you're in the Placa del Rei. This is the spot where Columbus was received by Isabella and Ferdinand upon his arrival in Barcelona. Columbus was given a hero's welcome, and in turn he presented gifts to the Catholic monarchs.
For the best view of the medieval buildings, go out and around to Placa de Berenguer Gran (at Via Laietana) where you can see the outside of the chapel, and sections of the Roman wall embedded in the later walls from the Middle Ages.
Giants Museum (La Casa dels Entremesos) - Since the Middle Ages, large colorful figures are carried in the Corpus Christi procession through Barcelona. Visit this museum to see a gallery of "giant" paper-mache figures - richly dressed kings and queens, Romans, dragon, falcon, lion, ox, mule, horses, dolphin, eagle, local people, such as fisherman, lady fishmonger, chef, dockworker.
Museu Picasso - Picasso spent his teen years in Barcelona, had his first public exhibition in 1901, and maintained ties with Barcelona throughout his life. The Museu Picasso contains a complete collection of Picasso's early works, starting with charcoals and oils from the 1890's, including his Blue and Rose periods, and later works such his own version of Las Meninas.
Chocolate Museum (Museu de la Xocolata) - Most interesting in the museum are the chocolate sculptures - Gaudi's mosaic dragon in white chocolate, Sagrada Familia towers, Tintin, Bambi, and Asterix scenes, grizzly bear, gorilla, a very large Komodo dragon. Stop into the cafe (outside the museum) for a delicious cup of hot chocolate.
Parc de la Ciutadella (City Park) - At the eastern edge of the old city is the Parc de la Ciutadella, a cozy park where you can pedal around in surreys, rent a row boat (it's a very small lake, the kids can row), watch the gushing water in the big Cascada fountain decorated with dragons, or climb on the large mammoth statue.
For a great way to approach the park, start at the Arc de Triomf and stroll south along the Passeig Lluis Companys in through the large promenade at the north entrance.
South of the lake, a large children's playground has baby swings, climbing structures and sand toys. A smaller playground and snack bar is situated near the zoo at the south entrance to the park. Picnic tables are available near the north entrance, and along with another little playground.
Fun food
Markets - La Boqueria and Mercat Santa Caterina - A trip to the large covered market, La Boqueria, is a must. It's colorful and busy, and filled with all kinds of local food - fresh caught fish and seafood, meat and poultry, fruits and vegetables. Shop for everything you need for a picnic or snack - fresh fruit drinks, Spanish ham and lunch meats, bread and pastries, cheese, nuts, dried fruits, chocolates, and candies. Tip: Mercat Santa Caterina is less crowded than La Boqueria.
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