The Barcelona Aqueduct

In 1938 Barcelona was heavily bombed and many parts of the city were badly damaged.

Once the Civil War ended, during the 1940s, the restructuring of the area around the cathedral began to make way for an avenue. The interventions of 1957 exposed the foundations of the aqueduct that was at the entrance of Barcino; they were the remains of 5 pillars bearing parallel conduits. This discovery led to the reconstruction in 1958 of two of the arches of the aqueduct on the remains of its foundations.

Running water in Barcino

The Barcino’s aqueduct was divided in two when it came close to the roman wall. The aim of this division was to reduce the strength of the water, as the inclination of one centimeter per meter made it come with too much power. Despite this division, the water was still strong enough to reach the port baths, located on the other side of the city.

Inside the Archdeacon’s House, you can see the entrances to the two branches of the aqueduct. Part of the water went to north of the city, where the workshops were, and the other part went to south, where the important domus were, which had running water inside.

For many years this division suggested that there were two aqueducts to supply Barcino: one that would carry water from the Besòs river starting in Montcada, and the other that would bring it from the range of Collserola. But studies over the years have ruled out this hypothesis because no remains have been found of the Collserola water, which is so calcified that it would have obstructed some parts of the pipes.

New uses of the aqueduct

Although the aqueduct was discontinued around the 6th century AD, it was not destroyed until years later, probably during the siege of the Franks of Barcelona in 801.

Over the centuries, and with the growth of new neighborhoods outside the walls, this area gave rise to the Vilonava dels Arcs, so called because of the remains that were integrated into the new buildings.

These remains still today continue to give us some surprises. This is the case of the demolition of a building on Duran i Bas Street in 1988, which brought to light new arches of the aqueduct, which had been used as a dividing wall with the building next door, where the March 8 square is now. Remains of the aqueduct may still be in any buildings in the area.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of the Roman aqueduct in Barcino and learn a little more about its use and importance, don’t miss you our walk through the Gothic Quarter, where the Roman remains mix with medieval Barcelona.

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