The Plaça Vila de Madrid is a pleasant residential square located on Carrer de la Canuda on the Barri Gòtic side of La Rambla de Canaletes, right at the top of Barcelona's famous Ramblas close to Plaça de Catalunya.
The square was laid out in the 1950s on the site of the convent of Santa Teresa de les Carmelites of Barcelona, which had been destroyed by fire during the Spanish Civil War, and during the excavations the most important burial site from the Roman city of Barcino was uncovered.
A raised walkway provides views of 70 tombs dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and reveals how the Romans built their cemeteries outside the city walls.
The tombs are arranged along either side of the Roman road and in a line, almost like a retinue that would bring the deceased closer to the afterlife.
This Roman Necropolis is known as a Via Sepulcral or Sepulchral Way
and the tombstones ran alongside a secondary road that branched off one
of the two main streets of Barcino - Cardo Maximus - once it had left
the walled Roman city.
This secondary road was leaving Barcino on its way to connect with the Via Augusta - the main Roman road from Rome to Gades (Cadíz), which before reaching Barcino had already gone through Blandae (Blanes), Iluro (Mataró) and Baetulo (Badalona).
The tombstones and other funereal monuments on either side of the Roman road were built between the 1st and 3rd century AD, and it appears that graves are occupied by lower and middle class members of Barcino society.
The Barcino citizens are buried along the Via Sepulcral because, according to Roman law, burials weren't allowed inside the city walls.
One of the things I most like about the tombs are their different shapes with the trunk-like cupae being the most attractive.
These were small mausoleums and apart from the body contained personal objects that had belonged to the deceased.
Around the 4th century, when Roman Barcelona was in decline, the road itself and the Via Selpucral was buried under the sediments given off by the seasonal river, which ran along the course of what is now The Ramblas.
The Interpretation Centre or Centre d'Interpretación de la Vía Sepulcral Romana de la Plaça Vila de Madrid is a small museum run by MUHBA - the network run by the Museu d'Historia de Barcelona.
It is located next to the Via Sepulcral at Plaça Vila de Madrid, 1 and will really give you a fascinating insight into Barcino - Roman Barcelona.
The Centre d'Interpretació exhibits over 60 of the objects found in the graves, including skeletons, and also displays artefacts from and gives explanations of the two main Roman death rituals - burial and cremation.
Entrance Fee: 2 Euros