Barcino, a walk through Roman Barcelona
The walk begins at the Monumental Site of Plaça del Rei, and takes visitors on a journey to discover what the city was like in the first centuries of its existence.
Barcelona's origins date back to the 1st century BC, approximately between the years 15-10 BC, when the Emperor Augustus founded the colony Iulia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino. Remains of the ancient Roman colony still survive today, and can be seen at several points in the city.
Map of Barcino
Monumental Site of Plaça del Rei
This is the starting point of the Roman City route, and is a place of key importance to understand the Roman city, and to take a trip back in time 2,000 years. Visitors can experience the streets and houses of ancient Barcino and get an idea of what it was like and how people lived in the Roman city. The archaeological circuit runs through an "industrial neighbourhood", featuring workshops and factories dedicated to craft and transformation activities. On the way to the workshops, visitors can see how people lived in a Roman house belonging to a wealthy family in ancient Barcino. There are two workshops from the 2nd century A.D., dedicated to washing and dyeing clothes, respectively (the fullonica and the tinctoria). After crossing a street (the Cardo minor, which led to the Forum, the city's public square) visitors enter a factory from the 3rd century A.D. Here they produced salted fish and garum, a sauce for refined palates that became a real delicacy among the Romans. After the garum factory, visitors can see how wine was made in Barcino in the second half of the 3rd century A.D. and the beginning of the 4th. Through a display of archaeological remains, you can follow the entire process of the transformation of grapes into wine. Finally the route arrives at the Christian district of Barcino and the Episcopal complex, one of the best-conserved examples in the entire Iberian Peninsula, and which stretched across almost a quarter of the fortified city. Here you can see all the different buildings related to Christian worship, including the baptistery from the 4th century A.D., where the first Christians were baptised, the bishop’s reception hall from the 5th century A.D.; the Episcopal palace from the 6th century A.D., and a church with a cross floor plan, also from the 6th century, surrounded by a cemetery.
The site of a Roman temple from the end of the 1st century BC. The temple was situated in the forum, (the city's public square) where most of the public buildings stood. Of the original structure, only four columns (joined by the architrave) and part of the podium (accessed by a small stairway) have survived. Religious ceremonies never took place inside the temple; instead they were held in front of the building. Much of Barcelona's Roman walls, which protected the city for many centuries, have been conserved in the city’s squares, courtyards and along its streets. Ancient Barcino was surrounded by a mighty circle of walls that had four entrance gates. These gates were located at the main access points of the city: the Decumanus maximus and the Cardo maximus, perpendicular thoroughfares that crossed the city from top to bottom and side to side. In the 4th century A.D., the city's fortifications were renovated; the new wall was reinforced, with the addition of 78 defence towers, and it was built onto the old wall, as a kind of outer lining. The gates had three openings: a central gateway for wheeled traffic and two lateral doors for pedestrians. If you walk along the old Decumanus maximus (today Carrer del Bisbe), you will arrive at Plaça de Sant Jaume, the location, in Roman times, for the Forum of Barcelona – the meeting point for Roman citizens and the centre of power where the main administrative buildings stood. This makes it a perfect example of continuity through the ages.
Pati d'en Llimona
In this building, visitors can see some of the surviving sections of the wall. This mediaeval building (now a civic centre) contains a stretch of inner wall from the first walled compound from the 1st century BC. The side passage for pedestrians from one of the wall’s entrance gates has also been conserved, built prior to the mid-2nd century A.D. At the beginning of the 4th century A.D., the passage fell into disuse, and the space may have been used as a guard post for controlling the entrance of the city.
Carrer Correu Vell
At no. 4 Carrer Correu Vell, if you walk along a passageway, you reach a courtyard where there is a walled section with two defence towers that belonged to Barcino's second walled compound, built in the 4th century A.D. In the 14th century, the house of the March family was built onto this section of wall, and which is today the Pati Llimona Civic Centre.
In the square visitors can see the circular tower that protected the wall’s eastern corner.
Baixada de Caçador
A significant part of the remains of the walled perimeter on the north-east side of the city is clearly visible on Carrer Baixada de Caçador.
Carrer Sots-tinent Navarro
Part of the remains of the walled perimeter on the north-east side of the city. The 14th-century Palau Requesens can be seen here, built onto the original Roman construction.
Plaça Ramon Berenguer el Gran
Part of the remains of the walled perimeter on the north-east side of the city. The Royal Chapel of Santa Àgata and Palau Reial Major can be found here, built onto the original Roman construction.
Carrer Duran i Bas
On this street, you can see four arches from one of the aqueducts, now built into the dividing wall of a building; the aqueduct originally ran all the way to the gate at what is now Plaça Nova.
Plaça Vila de Madrid
Graves and mausoleums were located outside the Roman city, as we can see at the necropolis that has been conserved at Plaça Vila de Madrid. In the time of the Romans, the necropolis was situated along the roads that led to the city's entrance gates. Their location was determined by Roman law, which prohibited burials within the walled compound. In Plaça Vila de Madrid, the tombs are located on either side of the road, and most of them are cupae – grave markers made of stone that were typical of the middle classes.
Carrer de la Palla
Conserved section of the Roman wall.
Another access gate to the city can see be seen here. The two lateral passageways for pedestrians have been conserved, as have the two semicircular towers which protected the gate. Next to the gate, one of the aqueducts that brought water to the city has been reconstructed. In fact, there were two of them; one brought water from the river Besòs and the other from Collserolla, and both arrived at the gate of what is now Plaça Nova.