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The Born Centre Cultural

Discover the remains of 1714 Barcelona

El Born Centre Cultural is a new and unique cultural centre that brings together three centuries of Catalan history. Below the wrought-iron iconic structure of what
was once the city’s 19th century central marketplace lies the Barcelona of the 17th century, a prosperous city that suffered a siege in 1714 and eventually fell. The
remains on show include roads and houses from that age, all perfectly visible thanks to a huge restoration project. Open from 10am to 8pm from Tuesday to Sunday, there are four guided visits for groups and individuals at affordable prices, including tours of the remains, permanent and temporary exhibitions and the market itself. The on-site Espai Gastronòmic Moritz offers tapas and quality beers and wines.

A cultural street open to everyone that links up the newly revitalised and cosmopolitan Passeig del Born with the Parc de la Ciutadella, the former military fortress built during the War of the Spanish Succession. A hub that connects Barcelona’s past and present under the majestic structure of one of the city’s first cast-iron municipal food markets, while inviting us to reflect on and look at the future. This is the very essence of the Born Centre Cultural, a key cultural space in Catalonia situated right in the Ribera district. The archaeological remains of El Born were uncovered beneath the market, which was built on the rubble of a modern Barcelona neighbourhood destroyed in 1714 by the Bourbon troops. This historical gem forms the heart of this comprehensive and innovative mosaic known as the Born. A perfectly put together living and dynamic attraction offering a whole host of activities and spaces, including two galleries as well as guided tours and itineraries, as well as an ambitious repertoire of cultural activities. The centre opened on 11th September 2013, tying in with Catalan National Day and the anniversary of the siege, and has revived legendary institutions. It also includes the store and bookshop run by the independent publishers El Bestiari and the cafe restaurant Els 300 del Born.

Historical Background

The 11th September 1714 is a key chapter in the history of Catalonia: Barcelona was defeated by the Bourbon troops during the War of the Spanish Succession which ended with the instatement of the absolute monarchy of Philip V. This event cut short the development of the Catalan capital at the time which marked it out as an economically dynamic, heterogeneous and diverse city with a rich social and cultural life. Following a long, dreadful siege from 1713 and 1714, the city suffered the harsh consequences of the occupation, which met with resistance commemorated today by the Catalan National Day, the Diada de l’Onze de Setembre. In addition to the suppression of Catalan liberties, the Bourbon occupation had a profound effect on Barcelona’s urban planning. The Ribera district –
the scene of the attack and the current site of the Born Centre Cultural – was demolished and a military citadel built on the site as punishment for the local
community’s resistance.

Do it yourself: 20 stops in 1714 Barcelona

Discover and explore on foot 20 places in Barcelona associated with the War of the Spanish Succession.

1. Born Centre Cultural
2. Parc de la Ciutadella
3. Passeig del Born
4. Fossar de les Moreres burial site
5. Museu d’Història de Catalunya (MHC)
6. Migdia Bulwark
7. Stronghold of Santa Eulàlia
8. Basilica of La Mercè
9. Hospital de la Santa Creu
10. La Rambla
11. Plaça de Sant Jaume
12. Cathedral
13. Sant Pere Bulwark and statue to Rafael Casanova
14. Former Monastery of Sant Pere de les Puelles
15. Carrer de Montcada
16. Former Convent of Sant Agustí
17. House of the Carders’ Guild
18. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
19. Convent and Gate of Santa Madrona
20. Montjuïc Castle

Archaeological site: stones with names and surnames

The archaeological site of the Born Centre Cultural gives you the opportunity to walk along the cobbled streets of Barcelona as it was in 1700, enter the houses, the artisans’ workshops and shops, and find out the names and surnames of the people who lived, or worked within the walls of the remains of 55 houses. The area, which has been declared a cultural heritage site, covers 8,000 m2 of the urban fabric of the Ribera district. It appears frozen in time and stands beneath the former market which, over the past 125 years, has become its greatest protector. Buried under tons of rubble three centuries ago, it bears exceptional witness to the city demolished by Philip Felip V.

A snapshot of this part of the city, now vanished, includes nine streets, 55 houses and a large section of the openair water channel, the Rec Comtal. Outstanding examples of the urban layout include the street that goes from the Born to the Pla d’en Llull. This is the main street on the site and is unique in Europe due to its size and excellent state of repair. It gives us a first-hand insight into the spirit of the people and the public spaces where they walked, including the Pont de la Carnisseria and the Carrer del Joc de la Pilota.

Exhibition: Barcelona 1700. From stones to people

Games, agricultural tools, jewellery, crockery, items of clothing… 21st-century Barcelona has recovered all the objects the inhabitants couldn’t take away with them
when they were forced out of their homes in 1716 and 1717 and now shows them to the rest of the world. The Sala Villarroel hosts the permanent exhibition Barcelona 1700. From Stones to People, which commemorates Barcelona society in the 18th century.

The exhibition is set out in five large sections (the big house, the prosperous city, everyday life, the city disfigured and under attack, and the rebuilt city) and
showcases more than 2,000 objects that were found during the archaeological digs carried out in the Ribera.

An iron and glass market

Josep Fontserè i Mestre built the former Born Market between 1837 and 1876. It became one of the most important and innovative cast-iron architectural structures in Barcelona. The Crystal Palace built for the London Great Exhibition of 1851 and Les Halles in Paris are the most significant precursors to this public building in the art-nouveau style. They eschewed the traditional building methods of the time that used heavy materials. Just 13 years after the market was completed, seven more markets had been built in the city using the new cast-iron architectural techniques: Sant Antoni, Barceloneta, La Concepció, Hostafrancs, La Llibertat, El Clot and La Unió.

The market was designed as a covered square that would bring indoors those trading activities that had traditionally been carried out in the open air. It was a functioning market for nearly a century. The structure features 152 cast-iron pillars set five metres apart which underpin the two wide central aisles. The aisles meet in the centre of this architectural gem crowned by a dome which, seen from the outside, resembles an eye-catching lighthouse. A large canopy covering an area of 8,000 m2 lets in light through panes of glass.

Gastronomic area: testing a new eighteenth century cuisine

The pickles, or escabetxats, which foods were preserved in during times of siege; the spicy potato croquettes, known as bombes, or bombs, which remind us how often these explosive devices have rained down on Barcelona; and traditional stews, such as escudella and fricandó, are just some of the dishes with a historic background served at the Born’s gastro bar El 300 del Born. Visitors will also find delicacies from around the world including goulash and gnocchi.

Thick hot chocolate with sponge fingers (xocolata amb melindros) and the small spiral pastry stacks (barretines aixafades) are just some of the mouthwatering specialities for the first meal of the day. The menu also offers a great selection of desserts. The cake, the Gran pastís de l’Honorata, commemorates the cathedral bell which the Bourbon authorities had melted down.

Books and souvenirs

The store and bookshop, inside the Sala Castellví, is another of the cultural spaces at the Born CC. Behind the counter of this functional space, designed by the architect Jorge Pérez Vale, is the bookshop run by Bestiari, one of Barcelona’s foremost independent booksellers.

The shop also stocks mementoes and souvenirs. Replicas of the pottery on display at the exhibition as well as traditional earthenware plates, or reproduction antique toys found on the archaeological site, are just some examples. The original shelves also showcase exclusive products, such as rings and earrings featuring figures from the roof tiles and iron columns of the market.

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