MUHBA Santa Caterina
Located in what is now Santa Caterina Market, this space encapsulates some of the fundamental events in the history of Barcelona, from the Bronze Age to the latest examples of contemporary architecture. In the 13th century, the Dominican monastery of Santa Caterina was built here, and which later became the first seat of the city's government, the Consell de Cent. In 1837 it was demolished, an event that helped to awaken the public's romantic interest in Gothic monuments, especially thanks to the works of Pau Piferrer. The space later became home to Barcelona's second market. When the market was rebuilt in 2005, following a major architectural reassessment of the site, it was decided that a small corner should be left where the excavations would remain visible.
Visit MUHBA Santa Caterina
Completed in 2005, the renovation of the Mercat de Santa Caterina led to major archaeological excavations in the area. On the site of the old market, remains were discovered that date back almost 4,000 years, to the Bronze Age. The new market, designed by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, includes a space in which the history of this entire area is explained, and which was once the site of one of the city's most important Gothic monasteries.
MUHBA’s heritage space at Santa Caterina shows the results of the research into the successive occupations of this sector of the city through the course of time, from prehistory to the present day.
Map of Santa Caterina
The first inhabitants of Barcelona
Beneath the site of today's market, two graves have been discovered – one of an adult, (possibly a woman) and the other of a child. Both were crouched in the foetal position. Archaeologists also found some small storage areas, possibly a sign of an inhabited space, though no further evidence has yet been unearthed. The remains discovered in the area also include vestiges from the days when the Romans founded Barcino, in around 10 BC. Evidence has also been unearthed of industrial activities linked with ceramics production – a pit has been found containing clay objects, amphorae and rejects from the oven. This settlement, located some 150 metres from the walled enclosure of Barcino, is located on the edge of the Roman agricultural villas.
Necropolis of the first Christians
As well as the prehistoric graves, a Christian necropolis has also been found on this site, dating from the 4th to the 6th centuries A.D. It is comprised of around 100 graves of different types. This necropolis might have been linked to a place of worship from the same period, though no such remains have been found. These vestiges of the first Christians are from the same age as the Episcopal complex that has been conserved in Plaça del Rei, and which also forms part of the MUHBA sites that are open to the public.
Place of worship
A small church was built in this area in the 11th century, with several annex buildings. When the friars of the Dominican order arrived in Barcelona, they were assigned to this small church, which they renovated and turned into an important monastery. The first meetings of Barcelona’s Consell de Cent were held in this building, and it was also the burial place of one of the most renowned men of Barcelona in the Middle Ages: St Ramon de Penyafort, adviser to popes and kings and joint patron of the city. Visitors to MUHBA’s Santa Caterina space can see remains of the original church and the successive phases of its reconstruction.
The old market
The monastery of Santa Caterina was demolished between 1837 and 1839, after the disentailment of church assets. The destruction of the old building helped to awaken people's awareness in the Gothic, and sparked a general desire to protect Barcelona's mediaeval buildings. Most of the site of the monastery was occupied by Santa Caterina market, Barcelona’s second market building (the first being La Boqueria). The large-scale reform project that was carried out recently respected the original facades and incorporated them into a new, formal design.
C. Joan Capri
Tel. 93 256 21 22
Monday to Saturday 08:30 to 15:30 h
Closed on Sundays and public holidays
Metro: Urquinaona (L1 and L4)
Bus: 120, V17 and 45
Barcelona Tourist Bus: south route (red)