Barri Gòtic

santaanna
The 12th-century Church of Santa Anna, an example of modern and medieval co-existing.

Let me just ramble a little bit more about the beauty of Barcelona and Barri Gòtic. I apologize for repeating myself, but I feel the need to iterate how incredible it was to see such old and beautiful things.

As we wandered through the narrow and twisted streets, I couldn’t stop thinking about how strange and wonderful it was to see such old buildings right next to such modern things, such as signs, stores, and merchandise. These several hundred year-old buildings were even attached to constructions completed just a few decades ago. It was ridiculous and awesome and so inspiring. I was enjoying myself so immensely and felt a bit like a glutton on Thanksgiving; I just wanted to see more and more and more even though my eyes, mind, and legs were overwhelmed and exhausted.

A 17th-century fountain, the last watering stop for horses before they left town. In 1940, 1 in 9 Barcelonans still got their water from fountains like this.
A 17th-century fountain, the last watering stop for horses before they left town. In 1940, 1 in 9 Barcelonans still got their water from fountains like this.

Allowing ourselves to just get “lost” and wander was one of the best experiences of the trip. As we gawked and ogled our way through the labyrinth, we found so many hidden nooks and crannies. One could live in this city their entire life and still have areas yet to explore or discover. Just in the late 1980s, a historian rediscovered one of the oldest synagogue in the world after examining 13th century tax documents. The original structure is thought to be dated back to the 3rd or 4th century. In 2002, it was discovered that Mercat del Born, a former open air market, was built on top of medieval ruins; the site is still being excavated. It is just crazy to think about history literally being stacked on top of history.

These wise old buildings of Barri Gòtic spoke to me and reminded me that I am a part of history whether or not I choose to believe it or even want to be. History is very much a living and evolving thing, not just some old stories I can foolishly ignore or take lightheartedly. The past is a beautiful thing and has so much weight on us and our world today and sadly, too many people today choose to ignore it.

Els Quatre Gats, a bar Picasso spent much of his time in.
Els Quatre Gats, a bar Picasso spent much of his time in.

At one point, while wandering the streets behind the Cathedral, we heard a beautiful voice in the distance. We followed it until we stumbled into an old courtyard. A woman had set up to perform; her male companion played a keyboard with a small speaker, but her voice boomed out without assistance, relying solely upon the acoustics of the courtyard to amplify her serenade. Her voice was amazing and the experience was raw and stunning. Just another one of the many hidden gems that are so easy to happen upon in Barcelona.

placadelrei
Plaça del Rei

Just a wee bit after that we found ourselves standing in another 500+ year old courtyard, the Plaça del Rei of Palau Reial Major (Royal Palace), only this one had a history very relevant to my life today; this isplacadelrei2where Christopher Columbus had come upon his return from the New World. This was the very place he stood, accompanied by six Native Americans and several pure-gold columbusselfiestatues, and told Ferdinand and Isabella of his success and discovery and they, in return, gave him the title “Admiral of the Oceans.” History that affects millions and millions today. . .

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