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.
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.
As you stroll through the subterranean maze you’ll see maps and models of Roman Barcino, and the remains of:
The early city walls and towers dating from 15-10 BC and the 4th century AD;
Columns and decorative capitals from the Roman Forum and Basilica;
The foundations of the frigidarium or cold water baths;
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);
A 3rd-century A.D. fish salting and garum (fish sauce) factory;
A winery complete with remnants of large crater-like dolias (vats);
And the 4th century Episcopal complex, site of the early Christian community; here you’ll see:
the narrow corridors and main entrance to the Episcopal Hall (a reception area used by the early bishops);
remnants of wall frescoes, mosaics, and polychrome slate and marble pavement;
foundations of a cross-shaped church and what’s left of an altar, a reliquary (in the base of a pillar), and the baptistry.
Above ground, you’ll find the permanent and temporary exhibitions on the history of Barcelona. Among the artifacts displayed here, you’ll see:
Funerary monuments, such as those carved with reliefs of Medusa;
A bust of Empress Agripina Minor, ca. 1st century AD;
A sculpture of Diana from the 2nd century A.D. used as a table support;
A terracotta bust believed to be of Ceres, goddess of agriculture;
A 2nd-century marble bust of a woman;
A bronze and coral brooch;
Amphorae and lids;
Oil lamps with decorative images of gladiators and hunting scenes;
A reproduction of a wax tablet, a stylus made of bone, and a personalized seal;
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:
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 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;
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;