The Architectural Secrets Of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter

Delphine Gidion /
Delphine Gidion / | © Culture Trip
Clàudia Abela

Barcelona‘s Gothic Quarter is without a doubt one of the most popular sightseeing areas in town. Its narrow streets and myriad historic buildings contribute to its enigmatic charm. Read our guide to the many quirks and oddities that are hidden amongst its streets.

Loved by over 40s

The Neo-Gothic ‘Bishop’s Bridge’

The journey begins on Carrer del Bisbe, meaning ‘Bishop’s street’, where you will find the stunning neo-Gothic bridge known locally as the ‘Pont del Bisbe‘ or ‘Bishop’s Bridge’. The bridge crosses the street uniting buildings on either side: the ‘Casa dels Canonges‘ (Canon’s House) and the ‘Palau de la Generalitat‘. Although it blends in seamlessly with its Medieval surroundings, the bridge was in fact constructed in 1928 by Joan Rubió i Bellver. The architect’s ambition was to construct a series of new buildings inspired by the dominant Gothic style of the area, but his project was not accepted by the government, who only validated the construction of the Bishop’s Bridge. The architect, disappointed with the decision, secretly incorporated a hidden skull with a dagger inside. Legend says anyone who crosses the bridge and sees the skull will fall prey to an evil spell.

Carrer del Bisbe 1, Barcelona, Spain

Bishop’s Bridge

The Hidden Spider

The Gothic Quarter is also well known for its lively and spontaneous arts scene. From one day to the next, any unassuming street corner can suddenly become home to the latest creation by one of Barcelona’s many street-artists. One of the most mysterious additions to the area’s living collection is the hidden spider that one day appeared on the corner of Carrer de Montjuïc del Bisbe. Little is known of its origin but the piece has become one of the more permanent features of the Gothic tableau.

Carrer de Montjuïc del Bisbe, Barcelona, Spain

The Secret of Sant Felip Neri’s Square

This charming square, popular with tourists looking for the perfect picture, harbors a relatively violent history. Today, the square is a haven of peace and tranquility, and many visitors enjoy sitting in one of the quiet terraces and admiring the small church of Sant Felip Neri. This is when you might notice the irregular marks on the wall, betraying the square’s gruesome history. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) the square was at the centre of many a conflict, including the bombing between opposing sides. The shrapnel destroyed part of the church’s facade of and today these wounds have been left open for all to see as reminder of the suffering the city of Barcelona endured throughout the war.

Plaça de Sant Felipe Neri, Barcelona

Delphine Gidion /

Hidden Remnants of the Roman Past

It is widely known that Barcelona, like many other Mediterranean cities, has strong historic ties with Rome. Walking through Paradis street there is an ancient sign that announces the August Temple.

Carrer del Paradís 10, Barcelona, Spain

Delphine Gidion /

Sant Iu’s Square And Its Wondrous Music

Sant Iu’s Square is the ideal place to sit back and relax away from the streets of the Gothic Quarter. What better way to soak up the atmosphere and admire the cathedral than by enjoying a live music performance by one of the city’s many musicians. There are no schedules for the street musicians, who come and go with the passing of time, so just grab a seat and wait for the next show to commence.

Plaça Sant Iu, Barcelona, Spain

Enigmatic Hebrew Scripts In Sant Iu’s Square

When visiting Sant Iu’s Square, one feature of the historic surroundings that many fail to notice are the ancient Hebrew inscriptions on the wall, a reminder of the city’s multicultural history. The wall belongs to the “Castell del Lloctinent”, and is a Medieval building which dates back to the 15th century. Some of the stones used to construct the castle where in fact from the Jewish cemetery on the slopes of Montjuïc hill. During the 12th and 13th centuries, there was an important Jewish community which lived in Barcelona under the protection of the King of Spain and was known as the ‘Call‘. In the 14th century, following a series of attacks known as pogroms in which many of the local Jewish community were killed, survivors were banished from the city and all traces of their presence was covered up. The ‘Castell del Lloctinent‘ is just one of the many reminders of this dark moment in history.

Plaça Sant Iu, Barcelona, Spain

The Mailbox And The Magic Turtle

Last but not least, the ‘La Casa de l’Ardiaca‘ or ‘House of the Archdeacon’, a Medieval ecclesiastical building dating back to the 12th century. The small mailbox situated on its facade, which was designed by the 19th century Catalan architect Lluís Doménech i Montaner, was built upon request for the local Lawyers’ Association, which at the time was based within the building of ‘La Casa de l’Ardiaca.’ The design is rich in symbolism: the swallows represent the idea that justice needs to fly high and rise above the worlds’ ills; the ivy symbolizes the difficulties lawyers back then already encountered with bureaucracy; the turtle represents the slow pace of the judicial system. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the mailbox’s design was well received by the local magistrates at first, but eventually it was accepted.

Legend says anyone who touches the turtle will immediately be cured of the curse brought by the skull and dagger on the Bishop’s Bridge.

Carrer de Santa Llúcia 1, Barcelona, Spain

Delphine Gidion /
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Keen to explore the world?

Our passionately curated premium small-group trips are an invitation to connect with like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.