A Roman tour of Barcelona


Barcelona is a cultural hub, where modern art and ideas come together in a city that is rich in history and tradition. Consequently, Barcelona is now one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe and the world; it has been a long time coming for the city to arrive in the successful and prosperous situation it finds itself. A journey that dates back thousands of years, when the first vision of the community began, under the Roman Empire, the area where the city lies began as a Roman settlement, named Barcino.

barcino

Going back, some 2000 years and we see that Barcino was a settlement under Emporer Augustus back around 15AD. There were many benefits to the Romans in having Barcino as part of its empire. The main one being its geographic location, next to the sea, which enabled the construction of sea defences and security to the Roman expansion into the Iberian Peninsula. More importantly, there was another neighbouring settlement of Tarraco, now Tarragona, which enjoyed commercial success. Therefore, Barcino used to accommodate and promote the trade and travel of goods in Tarraco through protection. This move worked well as Tarraco and even Caesaraugusta, now known as Zaragoza, experienced economic growth.

Initially serving as a military camp, or castrum, Barcino became increasingly more important and grew as a result. The main income for its locals were agriculture and selling wine- something that the city is still famous for! As the Romans were so integral with their architecture, the fortifications of the city now act as a visible blueprint for the society that once stood. Without further ado, here is the article that will give you a Roman tour of Barcelona!

barcino

Roman walls of El Gotico

The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona is a place of historic importance, showing a mix of architecture from the middle ages, recent history and Roman times. Exploring this area of the city allows the bulk of our Roman tour of Barcelona to take place. The most obvious and popular place to find Roman walls in Barcelona is the Plaça Nova, adjacent to the Barcelona Cathedral. Here, you will find two Roman towers that were built back in 4th Century AD! This was also Barcino´s north entrance and leads into more of the Roman settlement that still stands.

plaça nova

Some two minutes’ walk from the towers, you can find remnants of a Roman temple! The Temple of Augustus dates back 1st Century BC, a truly fascinating monument that shows six tall columns in a courtyard space that you can visit free of charge. For historical accuracy, this temple was originally located on Plaça Sant Jaume, where the current governing office is- the Generalitat. Showing the entrenched importance of the Plaça in decision making for the city and surrounding areas.

temple of augustus barcelona

Next to see in the Gothic quarter is the Plaça Traginers and the Baixada Del Caçador, which are in close proximity and feature Roman towers and walls. In this area of the Gothic Quarter, there are many restaurants and cafes to enjoy a spot of lunch. After some Tapas you will be ready to plan where to go next on the Roman Tour of Barcelona.

MUHBA Plaça del Rei

This museum is a must-see. Located next to the Plaça Del Rei is the best-preserved area of Barcino that this city has to offer. Back in the 1930s, the area under the Plaça Del Rei was excavated and gave us an insight into daily life in Barcino. With underground passages, forums, tiled flooring and many more to see, the MUHBA is a lynch pin in this memorable Roman tour of Barcelona. With entries €7 or less, this is a small price to pay for a unique insight into the history if this city.

MUHBA Plaça del Rei

Plaça Vila de Madrid

On Via Sepulcral, you can find an open space that has some distinct Roman tombs and streets. Back in the 1950s, during some construction work in the area, these Roman relics were found. After research, it was concluded that this was a burial site. Between the 1st and 3rd Centuries, it was illegal to bury people in the city. Therefore, this Roman site it just outside of Barcino. It is believed that those buried here are of the middle to lower class, due to the design. Despite being a resting place, this beautiful square allows for reflection and admiration of the Roman society´s remnants.

plaça vila de madrid

Museu Arqueològic de Catalunya

Lastly, on our Roman tour of Barcelona, we find a second museum with many Roman and even Greek artefacts! The Museu Arqueològic de Catalunya is the ideal way to end this trip. It has many sculptures, mosaics and many more on offer to you. Despite not being solely about the Roman history, there are many monuments to inform you about art in this part of the empire.

Museu Arqueològic de Catalunya

Other streets

If you´d rather just admire what remains of Barcino by simply meandering around the city, we have you covered! Here is a list of some of the other most popular streets that you can spot traces of Roman architecture. This is a simple and effective way to spot sights whilst getting around the city at your own pace. We cannot wait for you to complete your very own Roman tour of Barcelona! Check out the following streets, all beginning with ´Carrer de´:

  • Duran i Bas
  • La Palla
  • Sots-Tinent Navarro
  • Regomir

Plaça Traginers

Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at AB Apartment Barcelona. AB Apartment Barcelona is an apartment rental agency offering over one thousand short and long term apartments across Barcelona.

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Comments (10)

  1. Jennifer says:

    Wow, I never would have thought about Roman history in a city like Barcelona. My mother was in Barcelona once on business and she absolutely loved it! So I’m sure touring historical sites that go back 2,000 years would be even more impressive. Truly interesting and unique.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. It is only really when living here that you realise how historic the city is. We hope this guide serves you well when you find yourself in our beautiful city.

      Kind regards,
      Owen
      On behalf of AB Apartment Barcelona

  2. Bob says:

    As an intellectually lazy tourist who can easily get distracted by San Miguel, sangria and paella I had never given too much thought to Barcelona’s ancient history. About the best I’d done was to notice that The Museu Arqueològic de Catalunya had a lot of Roman Exhibits but that was about it. Now I know I’ll look out for the Roman stuff on my next trip to Barcelona. Nice to have someone else doing the thinking and pulling it all together for me.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Bob,

      Thank you for your comment and for your honesty!

      The best thing about the central location of these Roman sites are that they are all central- meaning that you can admire them whilst still trying the local food and drink! Plaça Traginers has a wonderful café called ´Café Babel´ and gives a great outdoor seating area to enjoy the architecture and some great food.

      We hope you enjoyed the trip to the architecture museum of Catalunya and cannot wait to welcome you back to Barcelona! Hopefully this article will be of help for giving you an alternative way to see the city.

      Kind regards,
      Owen

      On behalf of AB Apartment Barcelona

  3. Lauren White says:

    I went to Barcelona the other year and it certainly was busy! I think I’d like to go again but perhaps towards the end of the peak season in the hopes it’s a little less packed. The Romans did well having Barcino then. I didn’t know Tarragona used to be Tarraco. I knew I should have done the day trip to there but we didn’t get time unfortunately.

    It’s unusual but interesting to see the burial site on Via Sepulcral. How long would it take to get there from the heart of Barcelona? I’m disappointed I didn’t get to see anywhere near the amount I would have liked to, there are so many things here I didn’t know existed. You really do need more than a couple of days to appreciate Barcelona let alone all of the sites around it.

    Fascinating post, really enjoyed learning a little more of the history here.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Lauren,

      Thank you for your comments and kind words, we really appreciate them. Yes Tarragona is a cultural hub, only a couple hours from Barcelona and is ideal for any history fan! It is unfortunate that you did not get chance to see it but there is always time.

      As for the Via Sepulcral, it may surprise you to know that it is only a 5 minute walk from La Rambla! It is very central indeed.

      It is hard to see everything in two days in our city, you can live here for months and still have things left on your list to see!

      We hope this guide will help you the next time you visit us!

      Kind regards and glad you enjoyed,
      Owen
      On behalf of AB Apartment Barcelona

  4. Alaison Benny says:

    Last year I went to barcelona with my wife. It was an awesome place. I like casa mila very much. That is a stone quarry. There you will get world best coffee. Thanks for remembering me that memories again

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Alaison,

      Thank you for your comment, It is very appreciated.

      Yes, Casa Mila is very popular for its´ unique design and cafe!

      We are happy to have sparked some great memories.

      Best wishes,
      Owen
      On behalf of AB Apartment Barcelona

  5. Irma B. says:

    I’ve been to Barcelona but have never had the chance to explore the history of the city. I was like in and out of the city and only stayed for 2 days on business. I was only able to visit a few of the city’s amazing sights. Next time I come back I’ll make sure to see more, especially the ones on this list. I missed most of these and was only able to see the Gothic Quarter. I love the narrow alleys with the quaint shops around the area especially when the weather is nice. Lovely city.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Dear Irma,

      Thanks for your kind words. It is a shame that you had such a limited time on your last visit, you did the right thing staying in the Gothic Quarter, it is by far the most enchanting part of the city. We look forward to welcoming you back sometime soon, when you will be able to see these historic sights of a time gone by.

      Kind regards and best wishes,
      Owen
      On behalf of AB Apartment Barcelona

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