Enric Cobo discusses Barcelona’s history, going back to the Roman Empire.
When we go back in time to the beginning, Barcelona, like other areas throughout Catalunya, was made up of small settlements, what we refer to as Iberian settlements. There was a tribe called the Laietani throughout Barcelona. Disagreement exists, but one theory suggests that a Laietani group formed a population center. a location we call Barcino. In the first century A.D., the situation in Rome stabilized and the Roman Empire had crossed Catalan land during the Punic Wars to enter into battle with the Carthaginians. So they were already familiar with the entire Mediterranean basin. So, in the first century, with the political situation settled, the Romans stabilized all of these small colonies. The Romans created the Via Augusta, a road connecting the entire Mediterranean coast, all the way to North Africa. It is approximately during the 1st century that the Romans decided that these settlements would become, not so much great cities, but established outposts. And that was the case with Barcelona. In fact, the consolidated colony is called Colonia Julia Augusta Faventia, and known by the name Barcino. So it was a colony named Julia Augusta, a name commemorating the campaigns against the Carthaginians, efforts to thwart the Carthaginians’ attempts to conquer a territory the Romans wished to hold. So, in the 1st century, the Romans see that these small settlements need to be protected. The protection came in the form of a wall surrounding what is now considered city central, the Cathedral, La Rambla… It was approximately 1,000 meters around and 1.5 to 2 meters thick. And this exists for the duration of the Roman Empire. With the collapse of the Roman Empire, the arrival of the Visigoths and other peoples, the wall becomes irrelevant. It becomes a symbol of collapse that prevents people from circulating. It also causes serious health and sanitation problems. With the wall, the city couldn’t breathe, so during the 5th and 6th century the wall starts being demolished. In fact, the wall is repurposed to erect buildings and homes. The wall, therefore, succumbs to the pressures of society. They need more space. Having a protective wall is no longer important because nobody’s bent on conquering it. They decide to gradually demolish the wall. There’s no grand plan beyond urbanizing the old Roman Barcino. This continued until the 12th or 13th century, when a much wider, much larger, more modern medieval wall was erected. The objective is different now. It’s no longer a Roman city subject to conquest. It’s a bigger city at a much greater scale, that requires protection from potential attacks and invaders within the context of the modern age, very nearly the beginning of the contemporary age from my point of view. This is a much bigger, protective wall. The Roman wall succumbed to societal pressures. The wall was no longer needed. Some parts of it are effectively repurposed, others swallowed up in the wake of Roman Barcino.