Barcelona (Spain)

Roman aqueducts: Barcelona (Spain) Barcelona - COLONIA IULIA AUGUSTA PATERNA FAVENTIA BARCINO
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The Roman aqueduct of Barcelona - built in the first century CE according to an inscription from the time of Trajan (CIL II.4509) - has been physically ascertained in only a very few places, but there are many medieval and modern documents referring to its arches. The route of the aqueduct has been studied in full depth in recent years by Carme Miró and Héctor Orengo. The aqueduct might have been in service until the start of the seventh century.
The sections listed below correspond to the aqueduct Moncada.

1. Source

The aqueduct of Barcino (present Barcelona) has its caput aquae in the hills of Moncada and although Roman remains have not been found to confirm this, from here came the medieval water supply of the city (the so-called Rec Comtal, an irrigation canal from the 11th c CE). This is confirmed by a document from the year 987 CE which mentions where the canal was located, next to the Roman road near the river Tapioles. The aqueduct was parallel to the Roman road on its way to the city of Barcelona.

2. Coronel Monasterio

The second section is part of the documented excavations located in the carrer Coronel Monasterio / carrer del Fernando Pessoa in Sant Andreu (Giner Iranzo 2007). The intervention in 2004 brought to light more than 90 m aqueduct channel. It ran here at ground level, in a trench cut into the ground, with a specus width of 1,30 m and 0,60 m wide, covered with opus signinum. This watertight plaster was covered by lime concretion between 0,02 and 0,14 m thick. In addition, in this section several cippi (border stones) and spiramina (manholes) have been found.

3. Disappeared arches

The third section is a large area without archaeological remains, but from documentary evidence is known the existence of arches of the aqueduct near the mill of Clot and also of some physical remains in the Coll de la Celada, between the roads of Sant Adria and the Horta (Miró and Orengo 2010).

4. Scarce remains

The following remains are 6 km from the excavations of Sant Andreu, and are known through documents, but not archaeologically (except in one case). Both in the former monastery of San Pedreo de Les Puelles as in the convent of San Francisco de Paula remains should have been visible, and in the carrer Arcos de Junqueras, which place name refers to an old aqueduct. These sections are also perfectly aligned northeast towards the two previous sections. In this sector, the aqueduct would in principle be on arches, to enter the city on the right level.

5. Near the city gate

Imprint of the arcade of the Moncada aqueduct of Barcino (Roman Barcelona) in the Placa del Vuit de Marc.
The last sectors correspond to the arches located in the carrer Duran y Bas / Placa del Vuit de Marc and at the Placa Nova.
During the demolition of a series buildings in 1988 in the carrer Duran y Bas pillars and arches of the aqueduct appeared in the adjoining wall. Behind the carrer de Ripoli 25 a cross-section of the channel was found on top of the afore mentioned arches. Unfortunately this last part will be integrated in a new dwelling.
The pillars here have the same measures as the pillars and arch reconstructed on the Placa Nova, that is 1,55 5 x 1,55 m (5 Roman feet). It was built in opus vittatum of Montjuic stone. The reconstruction near the city gate - 7 meter high - stems from 1958 by J. de C. Serra-Rafolds and A. Florensa.

The only preserved arches are those that are within the Casa del Arcediano (Archdeacon's House), adjacent to the old gateway to the city. Both channels, one 0,15 m lower as the other, correspondent with the foundation remains found under the Placa Nova. Possibly the main channel was split to supply a suburb.
The total length of the aqueduct was about 11,3 km with a mean gradient of 0,16 %.

Distribution of the water within the city took place in lead pipes via two castellae aquae (water distribution stations), mainly to public fountains, bath establishments and probably to the industrial quarter on the east side of the city.

A second aqueduct

Of the Collserola aqueduct only one section is known both from archaeological research as from documentation: on the site of the Colegio de Arquitectos (College of Architects) where pillar bases of the aqueduct were found, tracing a different path marked for the aqueduct of Moncada. There are no indications that this aqueduct is of Roman origin.

Wilke D. Schram
Based on Sanchez 2016 pag 149 - 154, with alterations and supplements

Barcelona - BARCINO

Item Info
Length 11,3 km
Cross-section 1,30 m x 0,60 m
Volume 12.000 m3/day
(at the source)
Gradient 0,16 %
Period 1st c CE
  • Double arcade before
    the city gate

Recommended literature :
  • C. Fernandez Casado (1972, 2nd ed. 2008): Acueductos Romanos en Espana
  • D. Giner Iranzo (2007): Memòria de la intervenció arqueològica preventiva al c/ Coronel Monasterio 6-16 (Barcelona, el Barcelonès). Març-agost de 2004
  • C. Miro i Alaix (2010): El abastecimiento de agua a la colonia Iulia Augusta Faventia Paterna Barcino (in: L.G. Lagostena a.o. (eds.)(2010) Aquam perducendam curavit pag 147 - 163)
  • C. Miro i Alaix and H.A. Orengo (2010): El cicle de l'aigua a Barcino, una reflexio entorn de les noves dades arqueologiques (in: Quarhis, Epoca II, vol 6 (2010) pag 108 - 133)
  • C. Miro i Alaix and H.A. Orengo (2012): La topografia de l'aigua en epoca romana (in: M. Guardia (ed) La revolucio de l'aigua a Barcelona, 2012) (in Catalan)
  • H.A. Orengo and C. Miro i Alaix (2011): Following Roman waterways from a computer screen, GIS-based approaches to the analysis of Barcino's aqueducts (in: A. Verhage (ed) Proceedings EAA (2009) pag 47 - 53) -
  • H.A. Orengo and Carme Miro i Alaix (2013): Reconsidering the water system of Roman Barcino (Barcelona) from supply to discharge (in: Water History vol 5-3 (December 2013) pag 243 -266)
  • E. Sanchez Lopez and J. Martinez Jimenez (2016): Los acueductos de Hispania, construccion y abandono
Recommended websites   :
How to visit                  : The visible remains of the Roman Moncada aqueduct of Barcino (present Barcelona) can be found in walking distance from the Placa Nova in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona:
- Carrer Duran y Bas / Placa del Vuit de Marc (imprint)
- Placa Nova (reconstruction)
- Inside the Casa del Arcediano (adjacent to the city gate at the Placa Nova)

HOME More literature on more aqueducts Last modified: November, 2016 - (webmaster)

Map of the aqueduct

Remains near Barcino

Coronel Monasterio street

Pillar foundation

Arcade imprint

Cross cut end

Carrer de Ripoll 25


Placa Nova

Arch dimensions

Computer graphic

Archdeacan's house

Roman Barcelona

Around the city gate

View from inside


Bath houses

Water distribution