What comes to mind first when you think of Spain’s history? Perhaps the “Reyes Católicos“, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, or the pioneering discoveries of Christopher Columbus? Perhaps the Moorish rulers and their influence on Spanish culture. However, even before all of these momentous events swept over Spain, there was another powerful force that dominated large parts of the country: the Roman Empire.
You may have noticed that Barcelona is a city with a fascinating and turbulent history. Here, too, the Roman Empire left its unmistakable mark. Follow the traces of the Romans and discover the influence they had on Catalonia and the city of Barcelona!
1. Diving into the Roman Civilization
El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria
Start your journey in a place that fascinates amateurs and experts alike: the El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria. This former market hall of el Born, now houses an archaeological site that dates back to Roman times. Besides the excavated ruins, there are also many interesting artifacts and information panels to see. Moreover, the best part is, admission is free! Guided tours are also available at a reasonable price.
There are some permanent exhibitions, but also changing exhibits, making a visit worthwhile at any time. If you want to know more about it, just have a look at our blog or take one of the extensive brochures directly on the spot.
From el Born, it is not far to the beautiful Cathedral of Barcelona, where you can find another hint of the Roman civilization. This way you can combine your search for traces with a nice walk through the old quarters of the city. Along the Plaça Nova, you can find various remains of city walls and other former treasures that have their origins in Roman times, such as two massive square towers or a part of the ancient Roman aqueduct.
Often these remains are not so easy to spot among all the other structures, so keep your eyes open to ensure you don’t miss anything. We recommend a stroll along the Plaça Nova, preferably in the morning or on weekends, allowing you to wander around without hurrying and without being swept away by the crowds of tourists.
2. Across the city
The MUHBA and its monuments
The next stop takes us not far from Plaça Nova. The Barcelona History Museum, commonly known as MUHBA, is only a 4-minute walk away. The actual main museum is housed in a beautiful historical building that dates back to the Middle Ages and transports visitors to a bygone era even before they enter. However, the building in which the museum is located is not the only special feature of the museum: throughout the old town, you can find remains from Roman times that belong to the museum and can be visited!
Among these remains are, for example, the restored columns of the Temple of Augustus, a temple from the 1st century BC, which can be found in a small patio not far from the museum.
The museum focuses on the history of Barcelona in the Middle Ages and at the time of the Roman Empire. It is very suitable for children and offers various activities and attractions that will delight young and old. If you want to find out more about the Barcelona History Museum, be sure to read our blog for all the important information.
Before moving on to our last stop, be sure to visit the Plaça Sant Jaume, which was once the Roman Forum. This square was the axis between the “cardus maximus” and the “decomanus maximus”, two significant streets in roman civilizations. Today, it is the seat of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
3. The whole story
Museu d’Història de Catalunya
Now that you have seen so many of the fascinating remains of the Roman Empire in Barcelona, a visit to the Museu d’Història de Catalunya is strongly recommended. There, you can not only meet the Romans again, but also learn a lot about the developments and events that have historically shaped the whole region of Catalonia and made it what it is today.
With a visit to the museum, visitors will not only be able to broaden their horizons and learn more exciting facts, but also to improve their existing knowledge about the influence of the Romans and relate it to further developments. This allows for a comprehensive overview, which you can certainly use at the upcoming family celebrations to impress your dear relatives with your knowledge.
The permanent exhibition of the museum leads from the beginnings of civilization in the Stone Age through the Romans and the middle Ages to the present day. Furthermore, there is a changing exhibition, which regularly brings you new and exciting topics from the region of Catalonia.
Since it is a municipal museum, the entrance is free on the first Sunday of the month. So, what are you waiting for?
Now that you’ve got a taste for the Roman heritage in Barcelona, why don’t you take a day trip to Tarragona, a town about 90 minutes south of Barcelona, which has an impressive collection of Roman ruins!