The Barri Gòtic is home to most of Barcelona’s important historic and cultural landmarks, and one of the most significant is undoubtedly the Palau Reial Major (Grand Royal Palace).
It is one of the most representative surviving examples of the city’s mediaeval architecture, built on Visigoth and Roman ruins, and one of the oldest in the Barri Gòtic (its first appearance in historical documents is dated 1116). It was originally built as a residence for the counts of Barcelona and later for the kings and queens of the Crown of Aragon. Over the course of its history it was restructured on several occasions, and was even for a time, at the beginning of the 16th century, the seat of the Holy Office, in other words, the Inquisition. It was later occupied by an order of nuns known as the Poor Clares, and some parts were concealed. When it was declared Monument of Historic National Interest in 1931 it underwent extensive restoration and was returned to its former mediaeval glory.
The palace’s main attractions are the Saló del Tinell, which was built under King Pere III “the Ceremonious” between 1359 and 1362 by the master builder, Guillem Carbonell. Also worthy of note is the Chapel of Santa Àgata, dating from 1302, which was the work of King James II of Aragon and his wife Blanca of Naples. Inside the chapel is the fine altarpiece commissioned by Peter, Constable of Portugal to the Catalan painter Jaume Huguet (1465). And the Palau del Lloctinent (The Viceroy’s Palace), from 1549, whose construction was commissioned to Antoni Carbonell by King Carlos I, was home to the General Archive of the Crown of Aragon from 1836 until 1994.