Thousands and thousands of tourist have no idea what’s hiding underneath the streets of Barcelona. Some locals don’t even know. And, to be honest, I’m still finding out. What I do know is that Barcelona has many hidden treasures and some of them are very well hidden.
Take, for instance, the Plaça del Rei. When you enter the door of the MUHBA (short for Museu d’historia de Barcelona), you’ll step into the earliest history of the city. Back in the 2nd century AD, Barcelona was called Barcino.
Fun fact: the people back then, were called Laietani (the name of the street Via Laietana is no coincidence).
On the first floor you’ll be guided along archaeological findings. But the real surprise awaits in the basement. Here you can visit 4,000 square meters of the remains of the Roman city Barcino. Straight under the Plaça del Rei, under the feet of unsuspecting tourists (and locals), you’ll find the ruins of a Roman laundry, a fish factory, shops, and more.
Barcino used to be larger than these 4,000 square meters of course, but not that much. The old city was a lot smaller than Barri Gotic, the quarter where Barcino used to be.
It’s amazing when you think about how much the city has grown over the last 2,000 years. And in that time Barcelona has developed many faces: from the old parts in the Gotic quarter to the modern buildings in El Clot, Barcelona is a city of art, food, architecture, nature, history, traditions, sports, economy, beaches… I don’t know any other city that has that many facets.
And there is more to Barcelona that meets the eye: it might just be hiding underneath your feet.