What to visit / Barcelona, district by district / Ciutat Vella / Barri Gòtic / Roman wall and aqueducts (Casa de l'Ardiaca)
  • Photo: Jordi Calafell

Roman wall and aqueducts (Casa de l'Ardiaca)

The Roman wall which adjoins Barcelona's Plaça Nova has a secret in store. On the other side, stands the entrance to the Casa de l'Ardiaca, or Archdeacon's House, which contains interesting archaeological remains. As you enter the Casa de l'Ardiaca's courtyard, you'll find a building which is a fusion of all eras and styles.

The Casa de l'Ardiaca, the residence of the ecclesiastical hierarchy from the 12th century onwards, has undergone many alterations over the years, such as the ones carried out in the early 16th century which connected the building with the dean's residence. This was also the period when the porticoed central courtyard was built and the Renaissance-style decorations, which tie in with the flamboyant Gothic style of the original building, completed. A staircase leads to the upper terrace, a balcony in the purest Romeo and Juliet style. At the back of the Casa de l'Ardiaca is a wall underpinning part of the ancient Roman wall of Barcelona. One side of this wall is attached to a section of a replica of the aqueduct which stood at the gateway to the city.

The other surprise is to be found outside, on the main façade. In 1895, the Lawyers' Association, the Col·legi d'Advocats, set up its premises in the building and commissioned the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner to design a letter box. The modernista elements which it is composed of are deeply symbolic: the three swallows guarantee the freedom of justice, whereas bureaucratic procedures, symbolised by the tortoise, represent the obstacles that hinder legal matters. The Casa de l'Ardiaca has been the home of Barcelona's Municipal Archive since 1921.

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