In April 1717, the Bourbon authorities ordered to destroy 1016 houses in the Born district of Barcelona. It was a new fortress, Ciutadella, and these buildings were too close to its walls.
The day after
When the War of the Spanish Succession ended in 1714, the taxes on the guilds increased. It was one of the measures of punishment against the civilian population that had faced Felipe V. That’s why many artisans left the city to settle in coastal cities.
Many of those who stayed, to pay the taxes, started renting the upper floors of the buildings where they lived. To avoid that the tenants went through the middle of the first floor, narrow spiral stairs were built near the front door. Very narrow, because they had to go through the rafters to make them.
These, and others, were solutions from the outset, because shortly afterwards the people who lived in this part of the Born were forced to demolish their houses. It was necessary to make an esplanade that surrounded the Citadel. An esplanade that became part of the most sinister history in Barcelona. The sentenced to death were hung on this esplanade.
Therefore, the neighbors who lived in this area had to leave and moved with relatives or friends, or simply on the beach, in the area that would later be Barceloneta. Before leaving, they packed their belongings and also all reusable materials such as beams or door and window frames.
Stones to discover everyday life
The Born cultural center is home of a huge archeological site. A space of about 8,000 square meters, where you can see the remains of 55 of the 1016 houses demolished.
They are remnants that tell us very well the three years since 1714, when the Bourbon troops enter the city, until 1717, in which all these people were expelled without a single glance.
Many pieces of ceramics, glass and metal have been found that help us understand the everyday life of the 1700’s. In Barcelona, you could buy and sell new consumer products from around the world. Tea, coffee, chocolate or tobacco were all part of the city’s culture. Many of the houses have Hua or Ming Chinese porcelain for tea. The special crockery for eating melted chocolate, a star product that at that time had no religious restrictions and could be eaten for Lent. More than 8,000 fragments of kaolin pipes have been found, made in Holland, England, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon …
All this, added to the historical and notary archives of the time, helps us to know how the daily life of a city looked like. Barcelona was, at that time, as cosmopolitan as it is today or maybe more.
If you want to know the Born with us, we propose a walk through this neighborhood of Ciutat Vella. We can focus on the events of 1714 or if you prefer to take a longer walk, talking about how the Ribera or El Born was for centuries the great shopping district of Barcelona. Without forgetting to make some tapas.