When we think of great architectural feats in Barcelona, we usually think of what stands above ground. However, what remains underground is often just as impressive. Some of these findings date back thousands of years, existing unnoticed under our feet for much of that time. Today, a number of archaeological remains in Barcelona are open to the public for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.
Related article: The Templars and Their Remains in Modern Barcelona
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Mercat del Born
Mercat del Born was once a public market from the 19th century and before that a military base from the early 18th century. Under the reign of Felipe V, the fortress was built following the War of Spanish Succession and later fell into ruins, leading to the construction of the market.
Opened in 1876, Mercat del Born was the first large-scale cast-iron building in Barcelona and remained open for ninety-five years, becoming Barcelona’s main wholesale market for fruits and vegetables. When the market closed in 1971, the building was used as a venue for concerts, exhibitions, theatrical productions, and political rallies for thirty years before it was reopened as the El Born Cultural and Memorial Centre to preserve the archaeological foundations found beneath the market and exhibit the building’s history.
Address: Plaça Comercial, 12 08003 Barcelona
Plaça del Rei
Plaça del Rei includes an area stretching over 4,000 square meters beneath the actual surviving square. The old Roman architecture allows visitors take a closer look at what life was like back then. MUHBA Plaça del Rei is also home to the buildings of the old Palau Reial, examples of the Romanesque and Gothic architecture that was central to the expansion of Barcelona in medieval times.
Address: Plaça del Rei, 08002 Barcelona
Via Sepulcral Romana
The Roman Age cemetery was established outside the city (then called Barcino) because the law prohibited funerals and burials inside city walls between the 1st and 3rd centuries. The necropolis was along a path which connected the city to the Cardo Maximus, one of the two main streets of Barcino, now with Calle Boqueria built on top of it. People from the middle and lowers classes and notable slaves were laid to rest here where over 200 graves were discovered during excavation. The natural preservation of fluvial sediments preserved the necropolis, even after streets and a monastery were built on top. In 1956, Via Sepulcral was first discovered and excavations continued all the way until 2010. It currently stands as it looked 2000 years ago.
Related article: Visit the Roman Walls and Aqueducts at Casa de l’Ardiaca
Temple of Augustus
The Temple of Agustus dates back to the 1st century BC and was consecrated to worship the Roman Empire. The building stood as the center point of the Forum, a square surrounded by the main public buildings, including the basilica and the market where trading was done. Discovered in the 19th century, the temple was restored and visitors are now able to see the remnants as part of the Museu d’Història de Barcelona.
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