Things to do in Barcelona – Visit the El Born Cultural Center

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Iron and Tile Canopy El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

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.

 Interior El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

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.

Barcelona 1700 Exhibit El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

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 El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Glass bottles and containers, ointment jars, oil jars and lamps;

Clay Pots El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Ampoules and an orderly display of tiny clay pots possibly used by grocers for foodstuff;

Ceramic Plates El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Italian Ceramic Plate El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Ceramic candlesticks and dinnerware, such as a brightly colored Italian plate;

Porcelain Cups El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

and a set of dainty porcelain cups; 

Doll Heads El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Ceramic Toy Dishes El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Toys and whistles, including what appear to be doll heads and a child’s tea set; 

Marbles El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Clusters of marbles, some made of clay, and others of decorative glass;

Bone Dice and Throwing Cup El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Bone dice and throwing cup, and ceramic and stone game counters;

Bone Dice and Throwing Cup El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Beaded rosaries, crosses, and religious medals;

Buttons Aglets Buckles El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Aglets, bronze buckles and buttons;

Sword Grips and Scabbard Chapes El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Sword grips and scabbard chapes;

Amethyst and Gold Earring El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Jewelry of gold, silver, and bronze with bone, glass, and crystal beads, as well as precious stones, such as the filigreed gold and amethyst earring; 

Colorful Tiles El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

Colorful ceramic tiles;

And several paintings, including:

Siege of Barcelona by Jean Baptiste Martin El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

The Siege of Barcelona – Jean-Baptiste Martin, 1697 

Portrait of Emperor Charles VI El Born CulturaI Center Barcelona           Portrait of Empress Elizabeth Christine El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

and the 18th century portraits of Emperor Charles VI and his wife Elizabeth Christine,  grandparents of Marie-Antoinette.

Diorama of Paseo de la Explanada El Born Cultural Center Barcelona

There’s also an impressive diorama of the former Paseo de la Explananda, a landscaped promenade along the front of the Citadel.

The El Born Cultural Center hosts various temporary exhibits, music and theater programs, and other events throughout the year.

Getting there:

The El Born Cultural Center is located at Plaça Comercial, 12.  

Ticket info

Free entrance to the building and balcony overlooking the archaeological site. Tickets required for the exhibitions and guided tours; free on the first Sunday of the month and Sundays from 3:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

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