Designed by Antoni Rovira i Trias and inaugurated in 1876, the “Mercat del Born” was Barcelona’s first cast-iron covered market and is the largest of it’s kind in Europe. It was the city’s central food market right up-until 1971 when the new Mercabarna wholesale market opened in the Zona Franca.
The abandoned market building fell into decay until 2002 when work started to convert it into a library. The library project came to an abrupt halt when the remains of 18th century Barcelona were unearthed. Ten years later the El Born Centre Cultural opened its doors to the public on September 11th 2013.
About the Born Cultural Centre
After Barcelona fell to Bourbon troops in 1714, this area of the city was levelled to make way for a huge citadel. In 1863 the citadel was demolished and replaced by a large park (El Parc de la Ciutadela), houses and a the “Mercat del Born” market.
When renovation of the market began in 2002, the remains of buildings buried nearly 3 centuries earlier were uncovered. The large quantity of artefacts recovered (mainly crockery and other household items), combined with written records, have been used to create an exhibition that gives visitors an insight into life in Barcelona in the 1700s.
The centre is divided into 5 sections:
1. The Archaeological remains and surrounding walkways.
2. The “Sala Villoreal” Exhibition Hall which contains the permanent exhibition.
3. The “Sala Casanova” Exhibition Hall which currently contains a temporary exhibition recounting the Siege of Barcelona.
4. The “Sala Moragues” which is used for concerts, lectures, talks, workshops and other activities. Click here for details of upcoming events.
5. The “Sala Castellví” which houses a restaurant, bookshop and the administrative offices of the centre.
Visiting The Born Cultural Centre
The Centre is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am until 8pm (more information). Entry to the building and the central walkway is FREE of Charge.
From here you can get a good view of the archaeological remains. There are trilingual display boards with information about the remains, the war of the Spanish succession and the siege of Barcelona.
If you want to get a closer look at the remains there are guided tours of the archaelogical area. The tour lasts an hour and costs €5.50 (currently only available in Catalan and Spanish).
Entry to the 2 exhibition halls normally costs €6 including audio-guide. Entry to the exhibitions is FREE on Sunday afternoons, all day on the first Sunday of every month and public holidays. More info
The permanent exhibition describes day-day-life in Barcelona in the 1700s. As well as the large collection of artefacts, there are 2 large dioramas one of which is a recreation of Barcelona at the start of the 18th Century, the other shows the impact of the construction of the Citadel. There is also an audiovisual room showing a short documentary in English, Spanish and Catalan.
The temporary exhibition concentrates on the year long siege of Barcelona explained in a series of displays and short videos.
When we visited, we spent a little over an hour and a half in the centre (we didn’t take a tour). The exhibitions are a good introduction to this interesting period of Barcelona’s history.
If jou just intend to visit the central (free) section you should allow 20 to 30 minutes.
Information in English?
Yes, all display boards, labels and audiovisual displays are in English, Spanish and Catalan.
The entry fee includes an English audio-guide (other languages available).
There is also a limited amount of information in English on the centre’s official website.
Plaça Comercial, 12 , Barcelona
How to get there:
The nearest metro stations are “Jaume 1” and “Barceloneta” on the yellow line (L4)
Cultural Centre, Exhibitions and bookshop: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am until 8pm
Restaurant from 10am to midnight.
Closed Mondays EXCEPT public holidays
Closed: 1st January, 1st May, 24th June and Christmas Day.
Reduced €4.20 (includes 16 – 29yrs and >65yrs)
Under 16 years and Barcelona Card holders – FREE ENTRY
The Exhibitions are FREE for everyone at the following times*
Every Sunday from 3pm to 8pm
The First Sunday of each month from 10am to 8pm
*Please note that there are no tours or audio-guides available on these days