Things to do in Barcelona – Visit the Roman Ruins in MUHBA’s Plaça del Rei

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For a chance to walk through Roman Barcelona, or Barcino as it was known then, visit MUHBA Plaça del Rei. One of several museums within the MUHBA family, this ‘Museum of Barcelona History’ located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter takes visitors just over 16 feet below ground, to the streets of the ancient city.

Roman Ruins MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

Discovered during city works to monumentalize the adjacent Plaça de Ramon Berenguer III in the 1930s, the ruins have been accessible to the public since 1943. 

City Map MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

As you stroll through the subterranean maze you’ll see  maps and models of Roman Barcino, and the remains of:

Ancient City Wall MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

The early city walls and towers dating from 15-10 BC and the 4th century AD;

Columns and Capitals MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

Columns and decorative capitals from the Roman Forum and Basilica;

Roman Frigidarium MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

The foundations of the frigidarium or cold water baths;

 Textile and dyeing workshop MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

A textile laundering and dyeing workshop dating from the 2nd-Century A.D.; here you’ll see the sinks used for the various processes and the opus spicatum (herringbone-patterned pavement); 

Garum factory MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

A 3rd-century A.D. fish salting and garum (fish sauce) factory;

Wine Vats MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

A winery complete with remnants of large crater-like dolias (vats);

Episcopal complex MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

And the 4th century Episcopal complex, site of the early Christian community; here you’ll see:

Narrow Passage MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

the narrow corridors and main entrance to the Episcopal Hall (a reception area used by the early bishops);

Wall Fresco MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

remnants of wall frescoes, mosaics, and polychrome slate and marble pavement;

Ancient Reliquary MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

foundations of a cross-shaped church and what’s left of an altar, a reliquary (in the base of a pillar), and the baptistry. 

Museum Interior MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

Above ground, you’ll find the permanent and temporary exhibitions on the history of Barcelona.  Among the artifacts displayed here, you’ll see:

Medusa Funerary Monument MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

Funerary monuments, such as those carved with reliefs  of Medusa; 

Bust of Empress Agripina Minor MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

A bust of Empress Agripina Minor, ca. 1st century AD;

Sculpture of Diana MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

A sculpture of Diana from the 2nd century A.D. used as a table support;

Terracotta Head of Ceres MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

A terracotta bust believed to be of Ceres, goddess of agriculture;

Marble Bust of a Woman MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

A 2nd-century marble bust of a woman;

Bronze and Coral Brooch MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

A bronze and coral brooch;

Amphora MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

Terracotta Amphora Covers MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

Amphorae and lids;

Gladiator Oil Lamp MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona           Oil Lamp with Hunting Scene MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

Oil lamps with decorative images of gladiators and hunting scenes;

Wax Tablet with Stylus Seal and Oil Lamp MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

A reproduction of a wax tablet, a stylus made of bone, and a personalized seal;

Fish Shaped Brooch MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

And jewelry of glass, bronze, iron, and semi-precious stones, such as a fish-shaped brooch, and a reproduction ring seal.

The various buildings housing the exhibition galleries include:

MUHBA Casa Padellas Escala del pati

Casa Padellàs – a 15th-century Gothic Renaissance palazzo, which was moved – stone by stone – from its original location on Carrer dels Mercaders to this site at Plaça del Rei in the 1930s.

Palau Reial Major MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

Palau Comtal – also known as Palau Reial Major, this 11th-century palace adjoining the Roman city wall, was the residence of the Counts of Barcelona and later the Royal Palace of the kings of Aragon and Catalonia. The property includes:

The 16th-century rectangular, five-story Torre Mirador del Rei Martí, or Watchtower of King Martin;

Salo del Tinell MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

The 14th-century Saló del Tinell, the former Great Hall of the palace, which  served in the 16th century as the Royal Court and seat of the Inquisition, and in the 18th century as a Benedictine monastery;

Epiphany Altarpiece MUHBA Placa del Rei Barcelona

And the 14th-century Chapel of Santa Àgata, a single-nave church situated to the right of the museum entrance and partly constructed on the old Roman wall.  The church, which can also be seen towering over the Plaça de Ramon Berenguer III,  is decorated with polychrome wood and the spectacular 15th-century Epiphany Altarpiece created by Jaume Huguet.

Getting there:

MUHBA Plaça del Rei is located at Plaça del Rei.

Ticket info:

Adult Admission (Ages 29-64) = 7.00€

Adult Admission (Ages 16-28) = 5.00€

Free on Sundays after 3:00 p.m. and all day on the first Sunday of the month.

Free admission for ages 15 & Under and 65 & Over.

Note:  Tickets are valid for entry to all MUHBA centers.

50% discount with a Park Güell entrance ticket.

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