Visit the Roman Barcelona
The ancient Roman colony was founded between the years 15-10 BC, in the time of Emperor Augustus. The city was built on top of a small hill and covered an area no greater than ten hectares. It was, therefore, a small city which had, at the most, 1,000 inhabitants. The city was enclosed by walls with four gateways. These gateways led on to the main streets, the decumanus maximus and cardo maximus which came together right in the centre, at the forum or public square.
There were also other public buildings, such as the temple, the basilica, the curia, where the Ordo Decurionum or Municipal Senate assembled, and the tabernae or shops, which sold all kinds of produce brought in from various Mediterranean ports. Near the Forum stood the spa or public baths. We do not know if Barcino contained other public buildings which were representative of Roman cities, such as the theatre, amphitheatre or circus.
The water supply for the city of Barcino came from two aqueducts that carried the water, one from the river Besòs and the other from Collserola. Outside the city, and on both sides of the road, were the tombs and mausoleums. An example of these burial sites is the necropolis which survives in Plaça Vila de Madrid. A new city wall was built in the 4th century. It was attached to the outer part of the previous wall and reinforced with watchtowers. The gateways had three openings: a central road used by vehicular traffic and two pathways at the sides for the people arriving in the city on foot from the different roads in the region.
Roman Temple (late 1st-century BC): Paradís, 10
The temple stood in the forum or public square, where most of the public buildings were located. We know that it served as a place for the worship of deified emperors. Four columns linked by an architrave survive on the original site, and part of the podium which was reached by a flight of steps. Religious ceremonies were never held inside the temple, but on the esplanade in front of it.
Roman Sepulchral Way (1st -3rd centuries AD): Pl. Vila de Madrid
In Plaça Vila de Madrid we can still see part of a Roman necropolis, with 95 known graves. The tombs are located on both sides of one of the secondary roads leading into the city of Barcino. In Roman times, necropolises were always placed outside the city walls, as Roman law prohibited burials within cities. The majority of the tombs are cupae, a simple kind of grave.
Walls and gateway into the Roman city of Barcino (1st century BC– 4th century AD): Pl. Nova
In what is now Plaça Nova, we find two sections of wall and two quadrangular turrets from the second walled section of the city (4th century AD) upon which the archdeacon’s house, the Casa de l’Ardiaca, was built in the 15th century. The gateway to the city which resulted from building Barcino's second wall still survives.
The city was entered by one of the main streets: the decumanus, which is now Carrer Bisbe. To the right of the gateway, we find one of the pavements for pedestrians and the two semi-cylindrical turrets for defending the gateway.
Wall and gateway into the Roman city of Barcino (1st century BC – 4th century AD): Regomir, 3
Inside this medieval building, which is now a cultural centre, we find the interior doorway which was part of the first wall around the city (1st century BC) built with small stone bricks. It was re-used when the March family mansion was built in the 14th century. The pedestrian pavement, attached to one of the gateways, still survives.
Walls and turrets for defending the Roman city of Barcino (4th century AD): Carrer del Correu Vell
By crossing a small passageway on Carrer Correu Vell we come across an open space with a doorway and two quadrangular turrets from the second city wall, built in the 4th century AD. The upper storey of the March family mansion was built on top of it in the 14th century.
Roman wall and aqueducts (1st century BC): Pl. Nova
The interior of the Roman wall and two arches from the aqueducts which carried water into the city (late 1st century BC) can be seen inside the Casa de l’Ardiaca. One of the arches has also been rebuilt in Plaça Nova itself. The craftsmen's district: workshops and factories in Barcino.
Museu d’Història de la Ciutat (2nd-4th centuries): Pl. del Rei
Amongst the archaeological exhibits in the museum are two 2nd-century workshops where clothes were washed and dyed in Roman times, known as the fullonica and tinctoria. After crossing a street, a cardum minor, which led to the forum or public square, we find a 3rd-century factory for salting fish and garum, a highly-prized sauce in ancient times. Next to the fish factory is a wine cellar which shows us how grapes were made into wine.
The Bishopric (4th-8th century). Museu d’Història de la Ciutat: Pl. del Rei
The museum's archaeological route also leads through the various buildings which made up the bishopric between the 4th and 8th centuries. Highlights include the Episcopal Palace, which the bishop used as a reception hall in the 5th century AD, which still contains the original paintings that decorated the walls, and the baptismal font in which Barcino's first Christians were baptised. During the visit we can see various Christian objects, such as stamps for marking the holy bread and materials bearing witness to the city's Visigothic era, such as belt buckles and liturgical objects.
Archaeological ensemble of the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat de Barcelona
The City History Museum, the Museu d'Història de la Ciutat, features one of Europe’s largest underground archaeological sites, 4.000m2 in length. A visit to the site, which displays Roman remains, will take you back in time to the ancient city of Barcino. An exhibit at the start of the visit provides an insight into the culture of the Iberians, the inhabitants of the Barcelona plain before the Romans arrived, as well as the founding of Barcino, what it was like, and who lived there. After you have visited the exhibition, a panoramic lift takes you to the basement, where the first section of the route passes by the Roman wall, over the ancient intervallum, a street around the perimeter of the city designed to defend it from invaders. You can then visit an exhibition about everyday life in a Roman house featuring many objects found during the excavations carried out in the city. This archaeological route passes through the craftsmen’s district and Barcelona’s bishopriclona.
Walls and turrets for defending the Roman city of Barcino (4th century AD) Pl. de Ramon Berenguer
In Plaça Ramon Berenguer, a section of the second city wall (4th century AD) and the quadrangular defence turrets can still be seen. The buildings on top of this section of wall are the royal chapel of Santa Àgata and the royal palace, the Palau Reial Major (14th century). These buildings can be seen at the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat de Barcelona.