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Barcelona Travel Guide

Ribera Quarter

Outside the first wall but still medieval in origin is the Ribera Quarter, separated from the Gothic Quarter by the Via Laietana. It actually comprises two separate districts: Sant Pere, inhabited by merchants, and Santa María del Mar, populated by sailors. Both districts were joined together during the 14th century by the street of C. Montcada and became the center of the new city and the place where the finest private mansions were built, many of which are still standing today.

We shall begin our walk at the Plaça del Angel(15) and proceed to the Santa Maria district by C. Argenteria which still preserves much of its quaintness. At the end of the street, we come to the Plaça de Santa Maria; the monumental façade of the church is to the left and to the right, two groups of very picturesque houses with an interesting Gothic fountain. The 14th century Gothic Church of Santa Maria del Mar(16) is a grand, perfectly proportioned architectural space with a soaring nave and two aisles containing some very fine stained-glass windows.

From the Passeig del Born, scene of medieval tournaments and popular festivals, we take a left at the narrow C. Montcada, the site of numerous palaces. At number 20, we find the 17th century Palau Dalmases(17) with its simple façade which adapts the Catalonian Gothic lines to the Baroque forms, but its main feature in the courtyard is the staircase with its richly carved columns, balustrade and fine arches. At number 23, we see the Casa de la torre Trífora(18), a good example of the original features of 14th century façades. At number 12, we encounter the Palau dels Marquesos de Llió(19), a typical 14th century palace with a lovely open staircase leading from the courtyard to the 16th century Baroque door where the Museu Tèxtil i d'Indumentàre (Textile and Garments Museum) is located; number 14, the Palau Nadal houses the Museu Barbier-Mueller of pre-Columbian Art and at number 15, we find the Palau Aguilar, which houses the Museu Picasso(20) (Picasso Museum), an exquisite 15th century mansion noted for its courtyard and the open staircase bordering the walls with richly carved windows.

Gothic Quarter
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The street of C. Montcada leads to the small square of Marcús, where C. Carders branches off to the right. At number 12, we encounter an interesting old Noble mansion dating from the 17th century. The street ends at the Plaça de Sant Agustí el Vell, flanked on one side by late Gothic houses. From here take C. Basses de Sant Pere, one of the best examples of mid-19th century urban planning in Barcelona, to arrive at the Plaça Sant Pere, site of the convent of Sant Pere de les Puel-les(21). This convent dates from the year 945 but was reconstructed in the 13th century. The only poorly restored façade of 1911 is the 15th century Gothic doorway; the interior was designed in the form of a Greek cross with barrel vaults around a 12th century dome and has some excellent Corinthian capitals from the 10th century.

From the Plaça de Sant Pere, we proceed along the street of C. Sant Pere Més Alt and see some interesting simple Baroque structures. At the corner of C. Amadeu Vives, we encounter the Palau de la Música Catalana(22), a modernist concert hall constructed in 1908 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The interior is lavishly adorned with polychrome elements, rich floral themes and figures with mosaic bodies and busts in relief. The vestibule of the Palau boasts a magnificent mural by Massot.

Metro: Line 4 (Jaume I)

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