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Walking route through Barcino, the Roman Barcelona

Barcino, whose full official name was Colonia Iulia Augusta Paterna Faventia Barcino, was founded by Emperor Augustus in the 1st century BC. Although Barcelona was relatively small during the Roman era, with only 2,000 inhabitants (Tarraco, present-day Tarragona, was the capital at that time), it was conceived from the beginning as an administrative and religious center for a larger area. With the reconstruction of the city walls in the 4th century, Barcelona began to emerge as one of the most important cities in Iberia.

A very large part of the remnants of Roman Barcelona has been well preserved to this day. Personally, I find it a very special era and am very fond of all the remains that are still clearly visible in the city. With this walk, I would like to take you in one day to the places that best highlight the Roman past of the city, from Roman temples, aqueducts, walls, and city gates to an underground museum, bathhouses, and cemeteries.

Barcino Tour

1. Roman Aqueduct at Plaça Nova

We start our walking tour at Plaça Nova, at one of the old entrance roads and gates to the city. Here, the traces of the two aqueducts that carried water to the city from Collserola and the Besòs River are still clearly visible. A small part of one of the aqueducts still stands, although many historians label it as ‘false’ since it was rebuilt later. However, you can see the traces of one of the original aqueducts at the nearby Carrer Duran i Bas (but you will see that at the end of the walk).

2. Roman City Wall at Plaça Nova

In the 4th century, a new city wall was built around Barcino. This wall was attached to the outside of the previous wall and was strengthened with watchtowers and had four gates to the city. At the same Plaça Nova, next to the aqueduct, you can also clearly see a piece of this old city wall and one of the entrance gates. The gate had three openings: two for vehicles and one on the side for people coming to the city on foot. The two semi-circular towers defended the gate. Other pieces of the Roman wall can be seen at other points in the city (such as at the nearby Plaça de Ramon Berenguer, Carrer de la Tapineria, Carrer del Sots-tinent Navarro, and Pati Llimona), although they were often reused by medieval palaces and other structures for support.

3. Cardo Maximus and Decumanus Maximus

Walking through the gate, we immediately arrive at Carrer del Bisbe, known in Roman times as Decumanus Maximus. Both the Decumanus Maximus and the Cardo Maximus were the two main city roads. Perpendicular to each other, they crossed the city from end to end. The Decumanus Maximus extended over the axis from the sea towards the mountains, where the current streets Carrer del Bisbe, Carrer de la Ciutat, and Carrer del Regomir are located. The Cardo Maximus extended from the Besòs River to the Llobregat River. This corresponds to the existing streets Carrer Llibreteria and Carrer del Call.

4. Roman Forum, Temple, and Mont Tàber

Roman Forum
Roman Forum

We then walk towards one of the most important points in Roman Barcino, the Forum. At the intersection of the Decumanus Maximus and the Cardo Maximus, at the current Plaça Sant Jaume, was the Roman Forum, where all the administrative buildings were located. Special remains from that time are the four elongated Corinthian columns of a Roman temple. This temple was probably dedicated to the imperial cult. This beautiful verdict is displayed in the courtyard of the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya (Carrer Paradís, 10). Admission is free and it is usually very quiet here, so do not hesitate to go inside! At the front of the Centre Excursionista, you will also find a plaque indicating the center of the Roman settlement: this was the highest point of Mont Tàber, the hill on which Barcino stood.

5. Museu d’Història de Barcelona

The tour then continues behind the Cathedral to the impressive Plaça del Rei. Beneath it lies one of the most impressive excavations of Roman Barcino. Visit the Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBA) to see it and to learn more about this era. During the tour, you walk through the streets of Roman Barcelona, along the original city wall and its industrial district with workshops and factories that performed artisanal activities.

6. Roman City Wall at Plaça de Ramon Berenguer and Carrer del Sots-tinent Navarro

Roman City Walls
Roman City Walls

We then continue our walk towards Plaça de Ramon Berenguer, where another piece of the Roman walls can be seen. Further on at Carrer del Sots-tinent Navarro, you can enjoy another huge piece of the Roman walls.

7. Roman Tower at Plaça de Traginers

At Plaça de Traginers, we find another example of old Barcino: a Roman tower next to a piece of the well-preserved old city walls.

8. Bathhouses at Pati Llimona

Then we walk via Carrer Correu Vell to Carrer de Regomir towards the quiet and beautiful Pati Llimona. Barcino had no fewer than 3 public bathhouses. One of them was found at Pati Llimona and can be visited for free. This building also gives you the opportunity to see a piece of the city wall from the first century BC and the old city gate Porta del Mar.

9. Domus

Then visit a real Roman house, or ‘domus’. At the museums MUHBA Domus de Sant Honorat (Carrer de la Fruita, 2) and MUHBA Domus Avinyó (Carrer d’Avinyó, 15), you discover how the Romans used to live and what kind of houses they had.

10. La Granja

Then we go to Carrer Banys Nous, where at number 4 the café La Granja awaits us. At this cute art nouveau café from 1872, you can take a break to have a drink or a bite to eat. What’s special about this address is not only the café itself but also the remains of the original Roman walls.

11. Roman Cemetery

We then walk to a very special place: at Plaça de la Vila de Madrid, a Roman cemetery was found years ago during construction work. Now the square is open and the old tombstones are displayed along the old Via Sepulcral.

Roman Cemetery
Roman Cemetery

12. Roman Aqueduct at Carrer Duran i Bas

Finally, we go in search of the last piece of the real Roman aqueduct at Carrer Duran i Bas (at the intersection with Plaça del Vuit de Març). You have to look closely, as the four remaining arches of the Roman aqueduct are now integrated into the facade of one of the surrounding houses, in an abandoned and almost forgotten status. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful sight to see how the city has managed to reuse the Roman remains. Thanks to this, much history has been preserved and we can now enjoy all these beautiful ruins!

Map of the Barcino Tour in Barcelona

Extra tip: La Villa de la Sagrera

For history enthusiasts, there is another place that can be added to the tour, namely ‘La Villa de la Sagrera’. To get here, you need to take the metro to Sagrera (L1, L5, L9, and L10). Exactly at the location where the construction works for the AVE took place, in 2011, the remains of a real Roman villa were found: a spa of 1,100 square meters of residential and agricultural order. To the disappointment of many, the construction works resumed and the archaeological site was not preserved as a museum. However, a mosaic of about 60 square meters was preserved to be exhibited in the future AVE station in La Sagrera.

👉 Tip: Want to discover other walking routes in Barcelona? Check out all the walking routes here!

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Photo of author
Hello! My name is Marta, and I am a born and raised Barcelonian. I love introducing people to Barcelona, especially the Barcelona known to locals. In Barcelona, I am always looking for fun places and tips that I can then share with you, with the goal of helping you experience Barcelona like a local.

Marta Rubio

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