Barcelona’s Oldest Fountain: El Font de Santa Ana

From the narrow streets and alleyways of the Gothic Quarter to the wide boulevards of l’Eixample district, wherever you go in Barcelona you’ll see fountains of all shapes and sizes.

Medieval fountain in Barcelona's gothic quarter - El font de Santa Ana
Santa Ana’s fountain was built in 1356

The earliest fountains were built during the middle ages to provide water for Barcelona’s inhabitants and livestock. Simple and functional, early fountains were sparsely decorated and normally consisted of just a row of water spouts and a stone trough for horses to drink from.

The first monumental fountains appeared during the nineteenth century, typically stone statues standing atop a plinth with brass taps set into the base.

By the end of the century, Barcelona was booming and in 1888 hosted the first of two World’s Fairs similar to those that had been staged in London and Paris. Many of Barcelona’s most emblematic monuments, buildings and parks were built especially for the fairs including several large and purely decorative fountains.

During the twentieth century, the city’s sanitary infrastructure developed and water was piped directly into people’s homes.

Unlike most other cities, Barcelona city council decided to maintain public water fountains which can be seen on street corners throughout the city. They have even created a handy app to help citizens find their nearest fountain.

Mosaic of a woman carrying water on the side of St Annes Fountain Barcelona
One of the mosaics which decorate the Font de Santa Ana

Santa Ana’s Fountain: El Font de Santa Ana

Santa Ana’s fountain dates back to 1356 and is the oldest fountain in Barcelona.

During the medieval period, Barcelona was surrounded by a three metre high defensive wall with eight gateways that controlled access to the city. Santa Ana’s fountain was built in a small plaza next to Portal dels Orbs (later renamed Portal de l’Angel) which was the main gateway on the road leading North West to Gràcia.

Originally it was little more than a trough which was used to water horses and mules at the entrance to the city. In 1375 a fountain was added to supply drinking water for the city’s human population.

In 1819 the fountain was enlarged and replaced by the hexagonal stone structure which still stands today. The ceramic tiles and other decorative features were added in 1918.

Location

Santa Ana’s fountain is located next to Carrer dels Arcs numebr 7 in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter.

How to get there

The nearest metro stations are Jaume I (L4) and Catalunya (L1 & L3)

Other attarctions nearby

Barcelona Cathedral
Bishop’s Bridge (El Pont del Bisbe)
The kiss wall
Plaça de Sant Felip Neri
Barcelona Jewish Quarter (El Call)

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