Barcelona is a modern and dynamic city teeming with history. While its medieval past is not immediately obvious upon arrival at the train station, the pieces of its wall, which can be seen here and there in the city, bear witness to its history. Today, we invite you to get to know a little more about Barcelona's Walls, which you won't fail to (re)discover on your arrival. Enjoy the pleasure of being comfortably seated aboard a Renfe-SNCF in Cooperation High Speed Train to learn more about the past of the Catalan capital.
When we talk about the Barcelona’s walls, we are actually referring to the fortifications that were built between the 12th and 14th centuries and which are the second and third walls that completed the Roman wall.
Walking through certain streets in the old part is like being in medieval Barcelona.
The city of Barcelona, like many other cities in Europe, follows the pattern of cities founded in the first century BC. The Emperor Augustus
decided to establish several colonies in Hispania, among them Barcino
, which became Barcelona. From its foundation, the city was surrounded by walls to protect the inhabitants from foreign attacks. The Roman wall with a perimeter of 1250 meters and 74 rectangular towers made Barcino one of the most important fortified towns in the Western Roman Empire
. The walls were 18 meters high and 5.5 to 6 meters thick and had four access gates. The current Plaça Sant Jaume
was the centre of the city and Mount Táber the highest point of the city.
At the end of the 4th century, new walls were erected, and it is still possible to observe and walk through them inside the present town, as they have been so well preserved thanks to the constructions established on both sides, and even integrated into the wall over the centuries that followed.
From the 11th century onwards, the city of Barcelona
grew, and many urban areas were established beyond the wall, while respecting the access routes to the centre. Little by little, the city of Barcelona absorbed the peri-urban areas and even some villages, and the old wall was thus hidden in the very heart of the city. In 1357
, the city of Barcelona therefore requested permission from King Pere III to strengthen the city's defences
. As the King of Castile had already made some incursions beyond the borders of Aragon and Valencia, which had caused tensions, the Council decided to open new quarries in Montjuïc and to initiate a reconstruction of the walls, which was completed at the end of the 13th century. This period is referred to as the "Refortification" period
If you want to observe the towers of the ancient Roman wall, go to Plaza Nova. There, you will also find a reconstructed arch of an ancient aqueduct, which contrasts with the bronze letters that form the old name of the city (Barcino), created by the artist Joan Brossa and installed there in 1994.
You can see the height and size of the walls that protected the city.