Barca Below


Under the City Museum, the Museu d’Història de Barcelona in the Plaça del Rei, are the in-situ archaeological remains of the Roman and post-Roman city of Barcino. 

These are amazing and more extensive than I had expected. As I was only making the most fleeting visit, I arrived in town late in the afternoon thinking that the available couple of hours would be sufficient to visit these remains (and then have a look at a couple of other things later on) but I actually ended up seriously pushed for time and having to hurry through the last little bits. Nevertheless I really enjoyed getting a look, even just this little look, at these remains.

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The visit starts on the ground floor with an introductory gallery about the development of the Roman city of Barcino.

and this was then was followed by a quick trip in the lift, down into the basement and back the best part of two-thousand years.


I very quickly spotted some smashing #wallporn made, very obviously, from bits and bobs of reused material.


There are bits of columns and arches, various sizes of stone blocks and even inscribed stones.



This actually forms one of the 78 towers built against the outside of the city wall in 4th century CE.

The area of town that is preserved under the modern streets includes streets and houses, and elements of the city’s manufacturing infrastructure.


There is a fabric dying establishment, a winery and a garum production factory. You remember garum, right? fish sauce. Have a look here.

Streets and houses


This image (above) shows some lovely #wallporn and #roadporn. You can see the drain running under the paved road.


These were arranged as terraces of small, probably 2 storey houses with a road between the terraces. All very recognisable.

One house, a step up the social scale, has a well-made paved floor with a central panel of of opus sectile (made from pieces of marble arranged in a geometric pattern).


Industry and manufacturing

So, here they are:

Laundry and fabric dying

These large laundry vats are lined with opus spicatum, a type of flooring made from terracotta tiles laid edge on in a herringbone pattern.


The image below shows the construction method used to make these large vats capable of holding water. First a layer of opus signinum, made from mortar with crushed brick and tile mixed in, then beaten flat to form a hardwearing flooring. Then the opus spicatum. It looks like the surface has been re-covered later using more opus signinum.


This tank, used for dying fabric, is lined with plaster, which has been stained by the dye. The colour has been identified as Egyptian Blue/Pompeian Blue.


Traces of ammonia, lime and starch have been found in the drain channels and other evidence associated with fabrics were found in the area. Sewing, weaving, spinning have all left their mark.

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wine production

The large winery has evidence of all stages of production.

This beautifully paved tank was used in the transfer of the must (pressed-grapes), via a duct, to the lower area of the facility where there were fermentation and storage tanks.


The most striking feature is probably this storage and fermentation area. Sunk into the floor are huge amphorae called dolia in which the wine is left to age.



Speaking of amphorae, the associated display have examples of some of the amphora-stamps found a the site. This is branding, Roman-style.The equivalent of the pepsi logo.




And I just love these rather showy amphora lids.


garum production

The same dolia can be seen in the garum production factory.



There are also large rooms with spaces and structures used in the preparation of the fish. Filleting, descaling, gutting, mixing the eviscera in tanks to ferment. Mmm, yum (not).


Due to the late hour I had to get a wriggle on to get round the whole space. It’s actually huge. Every time I went round a corner, here was more. Loads more. Churches, more streets, more artefacts. Loads.

So if you do happen to be holidaying in Barcelona, in amongst all those Gaudis and the beach and whatnot, don’t forget to have a look at Roman Barcino.


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