Roman And Gothic Barcelona

Mont Taber And The Barri Gòtic

Roman and Gothic Barcelona - what is now known as the Barri Gòtic - is built on a hill that rises some 17 metres above sea level.

Mont Taber Plaque

This is Mons or Mont Tàber, which remains the historic heart of Barcelona, and for that matter Catalonia, to this day.

Circled by the Roman Walls, you'll find the remains of the Roman Temple of Augustus and the two buildings that showed the power and glory of the medieval capital city - the Palace of the Count-Kings of Barcelona and Barcelona Cathedral.

The continued importance of Mont Tàber is shown by the presence of two great modern administrative buildings, both of which date from the Middle Ages - the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya and the Casa de la Ciutat, home to the Catalan Government and seat of Barcelona City Council respectively.


This plaque is located next to an old millstone outside the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya, which marks the highest point of Mont Tàber.



A Walking Tour Of Roman And Gothic Barcelona

As part of the the general plan for Barcelona Travel Guide, I am creating Guided Tours around the city.

This Roman and Gothic Barcelona Tour is adapted from Alexandre Cirici's 1972 classic Barcelona Pam A Pam guidebook and takes the following route:

  • Plaça Nova
  • Avinguda de la Catedral
  • Carrer de la Tapineria
  • Plaça de Berenguer el Gran
  • Sots-tinent Navarro and the Roman Walls
  • Plaça de l'Àngel
  • Carrer de la Llibreteria
  • Carrer del Veguer
  • Plaça del Rei and the Palau Reial
  • Carrer de la Pietat
  • Carrer del Paradís to enter the Cathedral
  • Carrer de Santa Llúcia until the Palau Episcopal
  • Carrer del Bisbe
  • Plaça de Sant Jaume, including the Palau de la Generalitat and the Casa de la Ciutat

Roman And Gothic Barcelona Tour Map

The map above is taken from Alexandre Crici's Barcelona Pam A Pam (1972) and shows the basic route of our Walking Tour of Roman and Gothic Barcelona.

The complete tour takes about 4 hours so you might want to divide it into sections or just do the highlights.




A Brief History Of Roman and Gothic Barcelona

Map of Roman Barcelona

On the highest point of Mont Tàber, there was once an Iberian settlement, which was most probably occupied by the original Roman camp.

This was replaced by the Roman city - the colony Paterna Favencia Barcino - where the Temple of Augustus was built in the northern sector.

The Roman city consisted of four sectors created by the intersection of the streets known as Cardo Maximus and Decamanus Maximus.

The church dedicated to Bishop Sant Sever, who was martyred in the 2nd century, was also located here.

Mont Tàber was fortified during the 4th century. By the following century, the Cathedral and Palace from where the Visigoth King Ataülf reigned and his wife Gal.la Placidia lived must have already existed in some form.

In 713, Barcelona was invaded by the Moors and in 801 it was retaken by the Frankish King Louis the Pious.

Rise

The County of Barcelona, originally created by the Carolingian Dynasty of Frankish Kings as a buffer against the Moors became hereditary in 873 under Guifré el Pilós - often known in English as Wilfred the
Hairy.

In 988, his descendant Borrell II declared it an independent sovereign state and from the the middle of the 11th century, the dynasty of the Counts of Barcelona dominated the whole of Catalonia.

In the 12th century, Ramon Berenguer III gained the Crown of Provence and his son Ramon Berenguer IV became Prince of Aragón.

The House of Barcelona became Kings of Aragón in the next generation under Alfons I and, from the 11th to 15th century, a total of thirteen Catalan Count-Kings presided over the largest empire in the Mediterranean from Plaça de Sant Jaume.


Catalan Empire in 15th Century

From 1414, the Castilian Trastàmara Dynasty ruled Catalonia from Barcelona until in 1516 the Habsburg Charles V came to the Spanish throne and Barcelona lost its position as state capital.

For more than five centuries, Mount Tàber was the seat of the Catalan monarchy and the political centre of the confederation of states that came under its control.

The Cathedral and the Palau Reial or Royal Palace symbolise the two pinnacles of Barcelona society in the middle ages.

Fall

Throughout the early years of the 16th century, the lloctinents or governors loyal to Charles V continued living on Mount Tàber

However, the political and administrative centre was progressively transferred to the port area, where the Virreis or viceroys were based until 1714.

After falling to Felipe V's troops in 1714, the Castilian Captain Generals were firmly based by the port.


The Siege of Barcelona 1714

The old Palau Reial was converted into a convent and, apart from the Cathedral, Mont Tàber fell into disuse.

Rebirth

Carrer del Bisbe, Barcelona Barri Gòtic

In the 20th century, the restoration of the Roman Walls, the Palau Reial Major, the columns of the Temple of Augustus, the houses of la Canonge, la Pia Almoina, el Degà and l'Àrdiaca turned Mount Tàber into the centre of what has become known as the Barri Gòtic.

This is work in progress that has been going on for over a century and has a long way to go.

However, Barcelona's Barri Gòtic is now the best-preserved medieval city centre in Europe and although often hidden to the untrained eye, the Roman ruins also reveal a lot of information about the origins of the city.

I hope you enjoy the tour!


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