The Romans settled in the Pla de Barcelona to make a port. The reason for the origin of city was commerce, which was usually done on the beach or in the natural harbor at the foot of the hill of Montjuïc.
Born to trade
We do not know for sure if an artificial port was built, although in 2013 a containment dam was found that could be part of it.
The study of this dam is very interesting, as elsewhere in the Empire (Caesarea Marítima stands out), the materials used became more and more resistant to contact with water.
From Barcino, wine, fishing and garum were exported. We know this by finding numerous amphorae in different parts of the empire, such as Pompeii, the Garonne valley, the Rhone valley, or Rome itself.
Barcino was also noted for the slave trade, which was a real luxury product. A slave cost between 2,000 and 8,000 sesterces. A farmer could live a whole year with 400 sestercis and a legionnaire would earn 900. Therefore, only the upper classes could buy them.
Like any other Roman city, Barcino had numerous public spaces. One of the most popular were the terms.
On both sides of the Portal del Mar, in the 1st-2nd century AD, two public thermal complexes were built, one for men and the other for women.
With the new fortifications that were made in the 3rd century, the baths had to be remodeled. The masculine ones, became part of the new fortifications. Those of the women, were left outside the wall and destroyed. However, today we can see his remains on Regomir Street.
Relaxing in the thermal baths
Within the baths was a circuit based on a route of spaces at different temperatures: the cold water room, the hot water room and the warm water room.
There was also a massage room and a gym.
From this thermal complex the pool of the cold water and remains of another room are preserved, but it seems that the whole original complex was about 1,500m2.
Its dimensions show the importance of Roman Barcelona. Traders, sailors and travelers from all over the world used them as a meeting place and trade exchange, and there they got the information to do better business in the city.
You can discover more of the Roman remains of Barcino on our tour of medieval Barcelona
And if you want to know more about Barcelona’s Roman, click here.