Many school trips to Barcelona focus on the modernist designs of Gaudi and his contemporaries, but there is much more to this wonderful city’s rich history. Archaeological treasures from previous centuries abound and recent discoveries are now on display for all visitors.
The Roman legacy
The Romans left their mark on every region of the world they inhabited and Barcelona is no exception. Barcelona was part of the Roman Empire for around four hundred years and the remains of their occupation can still be seen today. Many of the main sights are concentrated in the city’s Gothic Quarter, and sections of the Roman city walls can be seen on the PlaÒ«a Ramon de Berenguer Gran near La Seu Cathedral. Near the top of Las Ramblas on PlaÒ«a Villa de Madrid lie the remains of a Roman necropolis. Today there is a small park in a circle of fashion shops and cafes, and in this park you can visit the recently excavated tombs from the second and third centuries.
Some of Barcelona’s Roman treasures are hidden in the Gothic buildings that followed them, and students on school trips are well advised to seek them out. Near the government buildings at Plaça Saint Jaume is the narrow street Carrer de Paradis, where Barcelona’s Center de Excursionista is located. If you venture into this building and the courtyard within it, you will arrive at the site of the Temple of Augustus. Unfortunately, all that remains of the first-century temple today are four impressive Corinthian columns, incongruously embedded in the surroundings of this Gothic building. It’s an atmospheric place to sit and contemplate what this area would have been like in Roman times. For anyone interested in Roman history, a visit to the Barcelona City History Museum is a must. Overlooking Plaça del Rei, it was built on the site of a Roman garum factory and fabric dyer and houses many of the artefacts discovered in the city.
Treasures of the 18th century
If you’ve visited Barcelona’s Born district, you’ve walked through one of the city’s most historically significant sites. The Fossar de la Moreres, located next to the Church of Santa Maria del Mar, commemorates the siege of Barcelona in 1714. Proceeding further into the heart of El Born you arrive at the old market, recently reopened and closed for many years. The vast open space has revealed many of Barcelona’s streets that have been hidden for countless years.
The streets surrounding Ciutadella Park were demolished by order of Philip V to make way for his new citadel. The people and businesses based there were forced to find new homes and the layout of the city was changed forever. The research and excavations that have been carried out in recent years are detailed enough to include the names of the families who lived in each house and the businesses that operated there. This incredible exhibition is open to all and El Born Market has now become a cultural center with music performances, film screenings, a restaurant and bookshop. It’s a wonderful place for students on school trips and literally puts the history of this part of Barcelona at your feet.
From the ancient treasures of Roman Barcelona to unveiling the city’s history at El Born, there is something of interest for any history lover visiting this delightful city.