Having begun life as a colony established by the Roman Emperor Augustus between 15-10 BC on the small hillock of Mons Taber, Barcelona continued to be part of the Roman Empire for over 400 years. An impressive smattering of Roman landmarks and artifacts can still be viewed today, though many have been absorbed into the framework of later buildings and structures.
Barcelona's Roman sights are centered upon the Barrio Gòtico. In particular, the area around the La Seu Cathedral and along the edge of Via Laietana, where part of the city walls ran. (You may also want to take a look at the Roman ruins in Cartagena.)
Any Roman-themed trail should culminate in a visit to the Museu d'Historia de la Ciutat (Barcelona City History Museum), which contains a wealth of artifacts from the period. Below is a brief guide to the city's chief Roman remains.
But the very best Roman ruins in the Barcelona area are in Tarragona, a city that is a short train ride along the coast.
Portal del Bisbe
Barcelona was protected by fortified walls with four gateways. The quadrangular 4th Century turrets of one of the gateways can be glimpsed at the Puerta del Bisbe on Plaça Nova. Here, at the back of the medieval ecclesiastical palace, Casa de l'Ardiaca (Santa Llùcia 1), there's also a modern replica of the aqueducts that once led out into the surrounding countryside from the gateway.
Remains of another gateway and original Roman paving can be glimpsed on Carrer Regomir at the Pati Llimona Civic Centre, which was also home to Roman Baths.
Plaça Ramon Berenguer
Beside the cathedral on Via Laietana, this square presents one of the most spectacular sections of the old city walls. Mostly dating back to the 4th Century, the walls are crowned by a Gothic chapel, that of Santa Àgata.
Temple of Augustus
Just off Plaça Sant Jaume on Carrer del Paradís, in the courtyard of the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya, are four impressive Roman columns standing 30 feet tall. Sculpted in the Corinthian style, these columns are all that remains of what was once Barcelona's Temple of Augustus, built in the 1st century BC.
Plaça Villa de Madrid
On this square near the top of Las Ramblas are the remains of a Roman necropolis, whose 2nd- and 3rd-century tombs were recently excavated and have become the focal point of a small park enclosed by fashion stores and cafes.
Museu d'Història de la Ciutat de Barcelona
Barcelona's principal Roman-themed attraction, this museum is built on the remains of a Roman garum factory and a clothes-dyeing workshop and has hundreds of artifacts recovered from the Roman period.