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Mercat del Born

Mercat del Born (38)

Built in 1876, this market ceased to be used as such many years ago. And relatively recently it was decided to turn it into a major library covering more than 15,000 metres squared. It was when work was being carried out on the project that the ruins of the old medieval city were discovered, making it possibly the largest archaeological site ever to be found in Europe. The discovery was so huge that the building work ceased immediately. 

This area of Barcelona had been the economic centre of the city in the Middle Ages but this came to an end on 11th September 1714 with the victory of Philip V’s troops over the Catalan resistance, positioned next to what is now the rear market entrance. Philip V ordered the destruction of a thousand houses in the neighbourhood to make space for a military citadel to guard the city. Later, when the fort was returned to the city, the citadel was demolished to create a new neighbourhood, a park and the Mercat del Born, which was an active market until 1977.

Since 2005, under the dusty metal structure of the old market, it has been possible to see the progress of the excavations from a walkway in the Carrer de la Ribera. It is like a journey through time as you can easily identify the individual spaces of the age, such as the fishermen’s homes, stables, a forge, a tavern and other trades. It is strange to imagine that Rec Comtal was nothing more than a water channel which provided the water supply for the city, and around which most of the houses and craft shops were located. 

Both for its size and its state of conservation, there is no doubt that this discovery is one of the most important in the Modern Age and will enable us to understand details of the micro-history of the city, and find out what daily life was like at that time. 

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