What to visit / Interesting districts / Ciutat Vella / Barri Gòtic / Wall and gate of the Roman city of Barcino - Friezes around the front of the Col·legi d'Arquitectes (Plaça Nova)

Wall and gate of the Roman city of Barcino - Friezes around the front of the Col·legi d'Arquitectes (Plaça Nova)

A small area crammed with elements that recount the history of Barcelona and its art. A visit to the Plaça Nova brings you face to face with the monumental gateway in the wall of the Roman city of Barcelona, but you'll also discover art, dotted here and there, such as Picasso's friezes along the front of the Col·legi d'Arquitectes.

The origins of Barcelona's Plaça Nova can be traced back to 1358, when it was the site of the city's hay market. At the time, the locals could still see one of the four gates in the wall to the Roman city, which led to the Forum, along the Cardus. Two circular towers flank the gate that leads into the heart of the Gothic Quarter. These are the result of renovations carried out during the 12th century, although the origins of the defence towers and wall can be traced back as far as the 1st century BC and the 4th century AD. A replica of a section of the Roman aqueduct emerges from the side of the Archdeacon's House, or Casa de l'Ardiaca, marking one of the points where water was conveyed to the city. Opposite, a visual poem by the Catalan artist Joan Brossa, spells out the word Barcino.

If you look across to the other side of the Plaça Nova, you'll see the building of the Architects' Association, the Col·legi d'Arquitectes de Barcelona. The most striking element is the series of sand-cast friezes around the façade, designed by Pablo Picasso and produced by the Norwegian Carl Nesjar: the "children's frieze", on the façade overlooking Carrer dels Arcs, the "giants' frieze", on the façade in the Plaça Nova, and the "frieze of the Catalan flag", on the façade overlooking Carrer Capellans.

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