El Mercat del Born (Barcelona, Catalonia)

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It might seem odd to find archaeological ruins like these inside a beautiful modernist building, but everything in Barcelona has a history and a reason.

The building is the old “Mercat del Born,” a public market and one of the most important buildings in the city. Constructed mostly of iron, and located in the lower east side of the la Ribera neighbourhood, it is the largest covered square in all Europe and marked the start of Modernism in Catalan architecture. Designed by Josep Fontserè i Mestre in 1873, it was completed and opened to the public in 1878. After serving as a wholesale market for years, it closed in 1971 because of the opening of Mercabarna in another part of the city.

In 2002, the local city council decided to put the old building to use and made plans for a new library. However, they change their minds after the discovery of the extensive medieval ruins under the building. The ruins were part of the Ribera district, an area that was demolished in the early eighteenth century after the defeat of Catalonia in the War of Succession in 1714. The goal was to make space for the construction of the Ciutadella military structure, as ordered by the new Spanish King, Philip V.

The official inauguration of the restored market was September 11, 2013, the 299th anniversary of the fall of Barcelona following its siege, which marked the end of an independent Catalonia state and the start of nearly three centuries of suppression of Catalan autonomy by the Spanish Kingdom.

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