If you find yourself strolling through Barcelona’s La Ribera neighborhood, you may want to stop by the El Born Cultural Center (El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria). Constructed of glass, colorful glazed tile, and decorative cast-iron, the building itself – with its attractive geometrical designs – is worth seeing, even if you’re just passing through. General access to the site, which offers an interesting look at Barcelona of the 18th century, is free.
Opened in 2013 in the former Mercat del Born – the city’s first covered market – the Center’s main attraction is the archaeological site of Ciutat del Born, which features the ruins of about 50 homes and other structures demolished during the reign of Phillip V to make room for a massive military citadel. Among the ruins are foundations of such businesses as the ‘Snow House’ (purveyors of ice), distinctive lines of streets, and even remnants of the Rec Comtal aqueduct.
Visitors interested in seeing the artifacts discovered during excavation of the site can purchase a ticket to the permanent exhibition Barcelona 1700 housed in one of the galleries along the perimeter. Displayed in rows of sparkling glass cases, the items (almost 2000 pieces in all) represent the day-to-day activities in this 18th century neighborhood. Some of what you’ll see includes:
Glass bottles and containers, ointment jars, oil jars and lamps;
Ampoules and an orderly display of tiny clay pots possibly used by grocers for foodstuff;
Ceramic candlesticks and dinnerware, such as a brightly colored Italian plate;
and a set of dainty porcelain cups;
Toys and whistles, including what appear to be doll heads and a child’s tea set;
Clusters of marbles, some made of clay, and others of decorative glass;
Bone dice and throwing cup, and ceramic and stone game counters;
Beaded rosaries, crosses, and religious medals;