Architecture of Barcelona

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Sagrada Família, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The architecture of Barcelona has evolved parallel with Catalan architecture, and has followed of diverse shape the multiple trends that have gone producing in the context of the history of the western art. Along his history, Barcelona has developed several cultures and civilisations, that have contributed to art and have left a legacy for posterity, since the first settlers, Roman colonists, Visigoths and a brief Islamic period, then the Middle Ages, the language and the Catalan culture, with a first period of splendour for the Catalan art, where the Roman and the gothic were periods very fruitful for the artistic development of the region.


During the modern age period in which the communal city went to the Hispanic Monarchy, the main styles were the Renaissance and the Baroque, developed from foreign styles, mainly Italy and France. These styles were applied with several local variants, and if well some critics affirm that it was not a period especially splendid in the artistic life of the city.[1]

The 19th century was a time of economic revitalisation and cultural growth, that reflected in one of the most fruitful periods in the architecture of the city, the development of modernism.Until the 19th century, it was an enclosed by walls of mediaeval origin, and having the military square, so that its growth was limited. The situation changed with the overthrow of the walls and the donation to the city of the Fortress of the Citadel, that the expansion of the city for the contiguous plain,enabled the Widen project of Ildefons Cerdà. Another significant increase of the area of the Catalan capital was the annexation of several municipalities limítrofs between end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. All this growth of the new urban spaces and an increase of the public art and the public roads, that were favored equally for several events celebrated to the city, how the Universal Exhibition of 1888 and the International of 1929 or, more recently, for the Olympic Games of 1992 and the Universal Forum of the Cultures of 2004.

The 20th century began with diverse styles produced by the Barcelonan architects, that connected with the international currents, and put to the city in first place of the avant-garde. The architectural development in these last years and the impulse for the design and the innovation, as well as the bonding of the urbanisme with the ecological values and the sustainability, have converted the Catalan capital into one of the European cities most pronounced in the architecture, which has been recognised with numerous prizes and distinctions, such as the prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1999) and the prize of the Biennial of Venice (2002).[2]

The architectural heritage of the city enjoys a special protection in virtue of the Law 9/1993 of the Catalan Cultural Heritage, that guarantees the protection, conservation, research and diffusion of the cultural heritage, with several degrees of coverage: level To (Cultural Good of National Interest), level B (Cultural Good of Local Interest), level C (Good of Interest Urbanístic) and level D (Good of Documentary Interest).[3]


Barcelona, capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia, is found in the Spanish Levanter, on the coast Mediterranean. It is situated in a plain about 5 km wide, bordered by the sea and the saw of Collserola —with the peak of the Tibidabo (516,2 m) as a point higher—, as well as the deltas of the rivers Besòs and Llobregat. Above the coastline and separating the city of the delta of the Llobregat is mountain of Montjuïc (184,8 m). Likewise, since the sight of Collserola advance to the flat several hills that follow a parallel line to the littoral sight: they are the hills of the Peira (133 m), the Rovira (261 m), the Carmel (267 m), the Creueta of the Neck (249 m), the Putget (181 m) and Monterols (121 m).[5]



There is scarce vestiges of prehistoric period to the city. If well it is ascertained the human presence in the paleolithic, the first rests regarding the architecture proceed of the neolíthic, period in which the human being went back sedentary and happened of a subsistència based in the hunting and the recol·lecció to an agrarian economy and farmer. These first vestigis proceed of finals of the neolític (3500 - 1800 BC), and manifest mainly for the practices funeràries with sepulcres of pit, that were used to be of quite a lot depth and revestides of lloses. An exponent thereof is the grave discovered the 1917 to the spilling southwest of the hill of Monterols, between the streets of Muntaner and Copèrnic; of imprecise dating, has 60 cm of high and 80 of wide, and was formed by lloses flat of irregular shape. Regarding habitacles, of this period only has found a bottom of cabin in what is the current station of Saint Andreu Comtal.[4]

Of the Bronze Age (1800 - 800 BC) there is equally few rests regarding the plan of Barcelona. The main proceed of a jaciment discovered the 1990 to the street of Saint Pau, where have found rests of fireplaces and sepultures of inhumació individual. Also they are surely of this period the rests found the 1931 to Can Casanoves, behind the Hospital of Saint Pau, where have found rests of walls of stone and the bottoms of three circular cabins of some 180 cm of diameter. They exist for other band witnesses written of two megalithic monuments, situated in Montjuïc and Field of the Harp, of those that nevertheless has not remained any rastre material. Finally, of the calcolític final there are some scarce rests of the called «culture of the fields of urns», found to the farm of Can Don Joan, to Horta, and to the south slope-oriental of the mountain of Montjuïc, between the paths of the Ancient Mill and the Source of the Mamella.[12]

Iberian period[edit]

In the 6th century BC and the 1st century BC the plan of Barcelona was occupied by the laietans, a village iber that occupied the current comarques of the Barcelonès, the Vallès, the Maresme and the Bass Llobregat. The Iberian architecture based in murs of tapial, with a system adovellat, with false arches and turns realised by approach of spun. The cities were used to situate in acròpolis, with towers and solid walls for the defence, in which ubicaven the houses, of an irregular distribution, generally with rectangular plant.[5]

In Barcelona do not remain almost Iberian architectural rests: the main vestigis of this culture found to the hills of the Rovira, of the Peira and of the Putget, as well as to Saint Cross of Olorda to the Tibidabo, but have not allowed to establish some special characteristic regarding habitacles or sepulcres funeraris.[14] The main rests proceed of the Rovira, where the 1931 found vestigis of an Iberian village that, unfortunately, were destroyed in installing some batteries antiaèries during the Civil War. As far as can be judged, it had a wall with two accesses, whereas situated extramurs found a group of sitges with 44 deposits excavated to the rock.[6]

As it seems, the main Iberian settlement of the zone was in Montjuïc, possibly the Barkeno that appoint two coins coined to the end of the 3rd century BC, although the urbanisation of the mountain in recent dates and his intensive use as a quarry during all the history of the city has caused the loss of the majority of rests. The 1928 discovered to the zone of Magòria nine sitges of big capacity, that probably would form part of a warehouse of excedents agricultural. On the other hand, the 1984 found rests of an assentament in the slope southwest of the mountain, in a terrain of some 2 or 3 hectares.

Roman period[edit]

The remaining columns of the Temple of Augustus

To the 3rd century BC arrived the Romans to the Iberian peninsula, over the course of the Second War Púnica between Rome and Carthage, with what began a colonising process that culminated with the incorporation of all Hispània to the Roman Empire. To the 1st century BC founded Bàrcino, a small walled city projected already to begin with monumental air, and that took the urban shape of castrum initially, and oppidum next, assentat on the Worlds Taber (16,9 msnm). The maximum splendour of the Roman period gave during the 2nd century, with a population that owed to oscillate between the 3 500 and 5 000 inhabitants.[7]

The Romans were big experts in civil architecture and engineering, and contributed to the territory paths, bridges, aqueducts and cities with a rational layout and with basic services, how the sewerage, in addition to buildings like temples, terms, circuses and theatres. The Roman architecture based in the utilisation of devices of ashlars, brick and masonry and, enfront of the system arquitravat Greek, entered the use of the arch, the turn and the cúpula. They adopted of the Greeks the use of the Ionic and Corinthian orders, to which added the toscà and the compound.[8]

Bàrcino quarter was walled off, with a perimeter of 1,5 km, that protected a space of 10,4 hectares.[19] The first wall of the city, of simple factory, began to build to the 1st century BC. It had few towers, only in the angles and to the doors of the walled perimeter. Nevertheless, the first incursions of frank and alamans from the years 250 go suscitar the need to reinforce the walls, that were expanded to the 4th century. The new wall built on the bases of the first, and was formed by a mur double of 2 m, with space in between stuffed of stone and mortar. The mur featured of 74 towers of some 18 m of altura, the majority of rectangular base.[9]


  1. ^ Triadó, 1984, p. 18.
  2. ^ DDAA, 2002, p. 18.
  3. ^ Patrimoni arquitectònic».
  4. ^ DDAA, 1991, p. 113-114.
  5. ^ Azcárate Ristori; Pérez Sánchez; Ramírez Domínguez, 1983, p. 50.
  6. ^ DDAA, 1991, p. 127.
  7. ^ DDAA, 1998, p. 46-48.
  8. ^ Azcárate Ristori; Pérez Sánchez; Ramírez Domínguez, 1983, p. 79.
  9. ^ DDAA, 1998, p. 61.


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