The Barri Gòtic has some of the oldest and most traditional shops in the city. Here we share some of our favourites...
Jocs Mallart, C/ Jaume I, 17
A veritable treasure trove of board games and card games, Jocs Mallart was opened in 1947 and is still owned by the same family today. Having passed through three generations there is literally nothing the staff don't know about these perfect pastimes and are always ready to help and advise. Specialists in chess sets, the shop is filled to the rafters with beautifully hand crafted sets in wood and marble, many are made locally and are collectables. Other favourites are card games which the owner, Ramón Mallart, believes to be some of the best things to combat stress and here you'll find a great variety as well as the traditional Spanish playing cards which features different characters to the standard 52 card French deck which is the most widely used. Jocs Mallart also have a large collection of new board games enjoying a renaissance in popularity, alongside the old favourites. If you fancy a flutter why not pick up a poker set, or try something new with board games from around the world? Here at Jocs Mallet you can find everything to satisfy your game playing thirst.
L'Arca, C/ Banys nous 20
Stepping into L'Arca is like stepping back into the past, a rose tinted past with luxurious furniture, hand crafted jewellery and couture gowns. L'Arca specialises in vintage and period fashion, jewellery and furniture offering a treasure trove of delights for the antique lover. From 19th century lingerie to 1930s Balenciaga dresses, vintage Japanese Kimonos to hand embroidered Manila shawls, L'Arca is a shop to get lost in. A particular reason to visit (if you really needed one) would be to find a one of a kind wedding dress. L'Arca offers a collection of custom tailored vintage wedding dresses and accessories including hand crafted replicas of vintage veils and also sell beautiful lace by the yard if you prefer to design your dress or veil from scratch. The shop also has a special claim to fame; it dressed Kate Winslet for the hit film Titanic and also dressed Penélope Cruz for Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona. Quite possibly the most romantic, whimsical shop in Barcelona, a must visit.
Sombrerería Obach, C/Call, 2
Since 1924 Sombrerería Obach has been covering the hat needs of the people of Barcelona. An iconic shop on a busy corner in the Barri Gòtic, Sombrerería Obach harks back to the days when your outfit simply wasn't complete without a hat and still has a wide variety to choose from. Whether you just want a woollen hat to keep out the winter chill or are fancying something smarter, a fedora perhaps, or a straw Panama to shade yourself from the Barcelona midday sun, Sombrerería Obach has it all. The days may be gone where you could enjoy a Cuban cigar whilst leisurely perusing the collection but the old fashioned feel and wide variety on offer makes it well worth a trip.
La Manual Aspargatera, C/ Avinyó 7
The humble espardenya (often called espadrille in English) started life as shoes for the poorer people in society but have now become fashion items, a must have for the summer months. One of the first shops that led the way in making the espardenya a fashion shoe was La Manuel Aspargatera in the Barri Gòtic. Opened in 1943, this shop set about changing people's minds about the espardenya and introduced new styles and colours, making their shoes a hit with the fashion elite whilst still making them in the traditional way; by hand from natural fibers in the base and a canvas upper. The reinvented espardenya and La Manual Aspergatera became so popular that people flocked from far and wide to buy a pair, including Salvador Dalí, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jack Nicholson, Ralph Lauren and even Pope John Paul II. These days their shoes come in every colour and style imaginable and the shop also provides the traditional espardenyes for the Catalan Police's formal uniform. La Manual Aspargatera should be a stop on everyone's shopping itinerary, especially just before summer starts.
Herboristeria del Rei, C/ Vidre, 1
One of the oldest shops in Barcelona, the Herboristeria del Rei opened in 1818 and moved to its current premises just five years later, in 1823. A shop with more history than most, Isabel II gave the proprietors the title of Suppliers to the Royal Household and is well worth a visit just for the décor. Designed by a theatre set designer, Fransesc Soler i Rovirosa, the Herboristeria del Rei has a marble fountain in the middle of the shop floor topped with a bust of renowned Swedish naturalist Carlos Linneo, which was formerly used to hold leeches. Trinitat Sabatés is the current owner and also holder of the title of Master of Medicinal Plants awarded to her by the Government of Catalonia. An incredibly knowledgeable woman, she can guide you through the over 220 varieties of medicinal plants the shops holds, telling you their properties and health benefits. The Herboristeria del Rei also has a wide selection of natural cosmetics, essential oils, dietary supplements and gift items for the health concious person in your life. More than a shop, more than an institution, the Herboristeria del Rei is part of Barcelona history and hopefully its future too.