A necessary facet of Barcelona’s layout as an urban area is the presence of public spaces. Because the Gothic Neighborhood has evolved through the ages, its squares and plazas are more limited than they are in the rest of the city; I think this makes them more important.
For example, the Plaza de Catalunya is a common meeting place for locals, but it doubles as a rallying point for protesters in times of unrest. During the 15 M movement in 2011, protesters set up camp in the Plaza and enlisted the assistance of most of the surrounding businesses.
Last week, on International Women’s Day (March 8), thousands of women and supporters marched from the University of Barcelona, past the Plaza and east toward the Mediterranean. I think they chose this path because it is the city center and it holds the most significance, but it also offers the most exposure for their cause. Many locals pass through this area on their way to other parts of the city, but all tourists make a point to stop by.