Museum of the history of Barcelona: a surprising tour of ancient and medieval sites

plaça del rei History Museum

The Museum of the History of Barcelona (or MUHBA) retraces the history of the Catalan capital from its origins right through to today.

Established in 1943, it has many centres across the city. However, the biggest and most interesting building is in the Gothic district on the Plaça del Rei.

The city history museum in the Plaça del Rei

In the heart of the Gothic quarter you will find the principal space of the Museum of the History of the City. It’s also the most fascinating.

Roman Barcelona

Entering the museum is like leaving behind all of the excitement of the city to travel back in time. Taking the lift to the basement to start the tour you will find yourself delivered to the Roman era.

The museum houses more than 4000 square metres of archeological relics. You will find cleaning and dying materials, equipment for seasoning fish and producing wine, as well as a few individual houses dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

Here is a 3D reconstruction to give you an idea of a Roman town in the 3rd century:

Medieval and modern Barcelona

The voyage continues with the remains of an episcopal ensemble (4th- 7th Centuries) and a Visigoth church from the 6th century. This brings you to the Barcelona of the early middle ages (4th to 13th centuries). This part might be less fun for children as there are a lot of written explanations on boards and a few items that are representative of the era.

You learn a lot about Visigoth, Islamic and Carolingian Barcelona…all before the city became a European and Mediterranean capital with the growth of industrialisation.

Useful information

  • The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm, and Sunday from 1oam to 8pm.
  • It is closed the 1st of January, 1st of May, 24th of June and 25th of December.
  • Entry to the museum costs €7 (€5 for groups of more than 10 people) and is valid for all of the museum’s centres (see following paragraph).
  • The reduced price is €5 for 16 to 29 year olds and over 65s, large families or single parent families.
  • You will receive a 50% reduction if you present your Park Güell ticket.
  • Entry is free for under 16s, holders of a Barcelona Card, accredited journalists, and those accompanying people with reduced mobility. It’s also free for all on the first Sunday of every month, and from 3pm to 8pm all other Sundays.

Other centres of the city’s history museum

As well as the main building, the History Museum has many other centres, most of which are free to visit.

Ancient era

  • The temple of Augustus: A Roman temple dating from the year 1 BC. It has reigned over the city’s forum for over 400 years.
  • Domus Sant Honorat: this space resembles the main museum. You can visit the ruins of a large domus (family home dating from the Roman era) and a medieval shop.
  • Via Sepulcral Romana: a secondary passage that linked Barcino (Barcelona’s Roman ancestor) to the current area of Sarrià, in the hills above the city. It is surrounded by the graves of townspeople dating from the 1st to 3rd centuries.
  • Santa Caterina: The renovation of the Santa Caterina market in 2005 led to the discovery of archeological remains that were nearly 4000 years old. Today we can admire them in a part of the market dedicated to explaining the site’s history.
  • El Call: A centre that retraces the history of Jewish people in Barcelona. It is located in the few streets that make up the city’s Jewish neighbourhood.
  • The port and the port limits: archeological remains of the Roman wall that surrounded Barcino in the 4th century as well as the port limits of the 1st century.

Modern era

  • The guardian’s lodge at Park Güell: one of Gaudí’s works, this building houses an exhibition on Gaudí, Güell and Catalan art nouveau.
  • Casa del Aigua: built in 1915-1917 by the city of Barcelona, this house is the centre for water provision in Barcelona.
  • Refugi 307: dating from the civil war, this anti-air refuge protected civilians from bombings targeting Barcelona. It has more than 200 tunnels and houses an infirmary, a children’s room, toilets and fountains. It also offers an exceptional view of the city. You can learn more about it in our article on our favourite picnic spots in Barcelona. .
  • La Villa Joana: this 19th Century farmhouse in the hills of Barcelona is currently closed for renovation. It will soon become a museum dedicated to the poet Jacint Verdaguer, who spent his final days in this house. Verdaguer was a principal figure in re-establishing Catalan as a literary language.
  • The Fabra i Coats factory: This factory follows the model of the English Industrial complexes and includes a number of spaces including large energy system rooms.

These different centres are all independent and not stages in the same single tour.

Enjoy traveling through time!

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