El Born CCM (Center for Culture and Memory) is a window into Barcelona’s past. It is an archaeological dig of Barcelona old city, much of which was destroyed in the Succession War of 1714 or demolished in its aftermath. The dig is housed in the Mercat del Born, a gorgeous market hall that dates from the nineteenth century.
In this article you will find:
- Practical info about tickets and guided tours for your visit to El Born CCM
- Opening hours
- Information on how to get there
- Tips to visit El Born CCM for free
- Background information (facts, history and architecture) on El Born CCM
- Insider tips, for example restaurants and bars nearby
What is El Born CCM and why should you visit it?
El Born CCM is a museum housed in a former market hall. In the nineties the city hall decided to use the building to build a library, but soon after construction began archaeological remains of Barcelona’s old city were discovered underneath the building.
These remains are very important, because they date back to the Succession war of 1714, one of the defining events in the history of Catalunya.
The museum is unique because of the way the ancient ruins have been displayed.
A large area of the floor has been dug out, uncovering the remains, and there are walkways surrounding the entire area and crossing over it, so you get a real sense of what Barcelona of the 17th and 18th centuries looked like.
El Born CCM is one of the highlights of the area so we strongly recommend you visit, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Plan your visit to El Born CCM
El Born CCM is located in the city center, in the neighbourhood of El Born.
You can combine your visit with a stroll around this area, a visit to the Picasso Museum, and perhaps a picnic in the Parc de la Ciutadella.
If you only want to visit the free part of the museum (yes, most of it is free, but it’s worth it to pay for the full experience) you’ll take around 30 minutes.
If you also plan to see the exhibition spaces you will spend about an hour, and slightly more if you watch the video presentation on the history of Barcelona.
- You can get to the basilica of Santa Maria del Mar via the Passeig del Born, a nice walking street lined with many bars and restaurants where you can stop for a tapa and something to drink. Note: between 1pm and 5pm you need to buy a ticket to enter.
- El Born is a great shopping area, its narrow streets house dozens of interesting boutiques owned by local designers.
- Brought the kids with you to Barcelona? Behind the Born CCM you’ll find the Parc de La Ciutadella, a wonderful spot to have a picnic, where the children can play, and you can rent row boats.
- There is a public lavatory (wheelchair accessible) next to Sala Villarroel.
When to visit El Born CCM?
The museum is closed on Mondays, except for holidays. On the other days of the week it doesn’t really matter at what time you visit as it’s not usually very crowded.
If you wish to go down into the actual dig and take a closer look at the excavations, you need to book a tour with a guide. More information on this a little further down.
Also check the agenda of El Born CCM, there are all kinds of activities like (puppet) theater, workshops for kids, interesting expositions and concerts.
A lot is in Catalan and/or Spanish, but nowadays more and more is also organized in English.
Tickets and guided tours at El Born CCM
One of the great things about the center is that you don’t need to buy a ticket to visit — it’s free.
You can enter, walk around, and read the many informational panels (in English) and learn about them at your own pace.
However we recommend you consider buying a ticket to join a guided tour. The guide will take down into the actual ruins and share many interesting facts on ancient Barcelona.
This is a really cool off the beaten path activity that will give you unique insight into Barcelona’s history. Book this tour well in advance, because the groups are small.
Finally you can visit the expositions in the two exhibition spaces, you need to buy a ticket that you can purchase on the spot (scroll further down for prices).
Guided tour at El Born CCM
You can take a close look at the excavations on a guided tour, some of which are offered in English.
The duration of the tour is about sixty minutes. Children younger than nine years old may join for free.
Click here for more information about times, prices and how to book the tour.
The entrance to El Born CCM is free, but you have to pay to visit the permanent and temporary exhibits, except for Sunday afternoons and the first Sunday of the month, which are free.
- Adults: €4.40
- Young people between 16 and 29, and 65+ seniors: €3.08
- Children younger than 16: free
- With a ticket from the Bus Turístic: €3.52
- Audio guide: free (note: not available on days of free admission).
El Born CCM is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 8pm.
The center is closed on the following dates:
- January 1st (New Year’s Day)
- May 1st (Labor day)
- June 24th (local holiday Sant Joan)
- December 25th (Christmas)
Visit El Born CCM for free
Every Sunday afternoon from 3pm to 8pm you can visit the entire museum including the exhibition rooms for free, and on every first Sunday of the month it’s free the entire day (10am to 8pm).
On those days, there are no audio guides available and there are no guided tours.
El Born CCM can also be visited for free on these holidays:
- February 12th (day of Santa Eulàlia)
- May 18th (International Museum Day)
- September 11th (La Diada)
- September 24th (La Mercè)
- November 30th (San Andrés)
How to get to El Born CCM
- Metro: the nearest metro stop is Arc de Triomf on the red line (L1). After you get off the metro walk under the titular Arc de Triomf and head down the avenue until you reach Parc de la Cutadella. The museum is outside the park on the right. This is a very pleasant walk and should take you 10 minutes.
- Car: parking in the streets can be difficult because there aren’t many parking spaces, however there are a few parking garages around El Born CCM and near the Arc de Triomf. Use Google Maps to find the nearest one.
- Hop-on hop-off bus: the red route stops at Parc de La Ciutadella, from there it’s only a short walk.
- Bicycle: From the city center you can easily reach El Born CCM bike, and there are bicycle racks nearby where you can park. You’ll take roughly 15 minutes cycling, although you may need to get off your bike and walk if you’re going through the Born at certain times because the streets can get crowded.
- On foot: the museum is easily accessible on foot too. From Plaça Catalunya you can be there in under half an hour, although you’re likely to want to stop on the way as you’ll be going through two very interesting neighborhoods. You can cross to El Born via Plaça Sant Jaume and while you are at it, visit the beloved Santa María del Mar basilica.
The Born CCM has two entrances: the main entrance where you will find the ticket booth (on your right when you walk in) at the Plaça Comercial, a spacious square immediately recognizable because of the huge Catalan flag that is placed near the entrance.
The other entrance is at the back side, from there you can cross the street and walk into the park La Ciutadella.
What can you see and do during your visit to El Born CCM?
When you enter El Born CCM you will immediately know what it is about: the excavations from the 18th century that were discovered here.
These are below ground level and surrounded by a walkway so you can walk around and see them. Around the excavations there are information boards in English that tell you exactly what you are seeing.
You can also descend to get a closer look but only if you join a guided tour (on fixed times).
Cultural centre El Born CCM is located in a beautiful, 19th century market hall that was renovated completely beginning in the 90’s.
The result is stunning, even if you decide to just walk in and take a look around for a few minutes.
Inside the centre there are four separate rooms with both permanent and temporary exhibitions, a concert hall, a restaurant and a museum shop:
- Sala Villarroel: in this space you can see the permanent exhibit called Barcelona 1700, from stones to people. There is a large collection of all kinds of objects that were found during the excavation works, from everyday tableware and tobacco-pipes to unique jewelry. You can get a clear idea of the daily life in 17th and 18th century Barcelona. There are portraits of famous people of that time and you can see how the city changed by looking at the city maps. You can also watch a movie, in English, with a lot of information on the history of Barcelona.
- Sala Casanova: Sala Casanova occupies one of the sides of the building. The space is used to hold temporary exhibits, which change periodically. Check El Born CCM’s website to find out more.
- Sala Moragues: there is a concert hall with 280 seats and a beautiful grand piano on the stage. El Born CCM hosts a varied program of concerts and other performances, check their website to find out more.
- Sala Castellvi: here you will find the restaurant El 300 del Born (of the popular beer brand Moritz). From 8pm onwards, the restaurant can only be accessed from the street.
When you enter through the main entrance, you will find the museum shop on your right where you can buy maps, souvenirs and books.
History and architecture of El Born CCM
When Catalunya lost the war against the Borbonic army in 1714, it also lost its political freedom.
Vowing to never allow another insurrection, the victors forced the residents of the La Ribera neighborhood to demolish their own homes so a massive military fortress could be built to pacify and control the city. At the time of its construction, it was the largest in Europe.
Years later it was demolished and replaced by the Parc de la Ciutadella. Ciutadella means ‘citadel’, which refers to the fortress.
Instead of pointing outwards, the Citadel’s canons were pointed inwards at Barcelona, a grim reminder to the city’s residents of its purpose.
The excavation is of such importance because many of the remains are of the partially demolished homes of La Ribera.
The dig is a historical testimony of the aftermath of the War of Succession.
Modern day Catalan nationalism, often in the news these days due to the independence movement, draws its historical grievances with Spain from here.
King Philip V was a cruel leader that governed Catalunya with harsh methods, he basically hated everything Catalan.
As soon as he became the ruler, he banned the use of the Catalan language and severely curtailed Catalunya’s autonomy by dissolving many of its political institutions, including the Catalan government, the Generalitat de Catalunya.
Over a century later, in the year 1876, the market of El Born was built.
Designed by architect Josep Fontserè i Mestre and engineer Josep M. Cornet, it was a unique building for its time, with an abundance of glass and ironwork, and a brick structure.
The market is one of the best examples of iron architecture in Barcelona, a movement that had become extremely popular with the modernist masters of that time.
El Mercat del Born dates back to the early years of Catalan Modernism. The building was used as a market hall for about a century, first as a fresh market where the locals would do their shopping, and after 1921 it became a warehouse for vegetables and fruit.
From market to library to cultural center
Due to Barcelona’s rapid growth, the market hall became too small for use and ended up closing its doors in 1971.
The city council planned to demolish it, but the locals protested and convinced the government to leave it up.
After a few years, a plan was formulated to convert the old building into a library instead.
Soon after the beginning of the works, important archaeological remains from the 18th century were discovered underneath the building and the plan for the library was scrapped.
Once again, the locals protested because they feared a museum would become a major tourist attraction and their neighborhood would become touristy like the Gothic quarter.
Archeologists started their research in 1994, and it was not until 2003 when the final decision was made to turn the building into a cultural centre.
The official opening took place in 2013 on a very important date for Catalunya: September 11th.
The center was called El Born CC at first. CC stands for Cultural Center. Recently the letter M was added, that represents the word Memòria, which means ‘memory’.
The struggle for Catalan independence
Recently the Catalan independence movement has featured prominently in the news.
On September 11th 2013, the first Vía Catalana cap a la Independència (Catalan road to the independence) took place.
1.6 million people gathered all along the Catalan coast line to form a 400 km long human chain, stretching from the French border in the north to Valencia in the south.
Since then, the pro-independence movement has organized many more mass protest actions, gathering over 1 million people every year to demand independence from Spain.
Where to eat near El Born CCM
- For a good glass of wine and tapas, go to La Vinya del Señor in front of the main entrance of Santa María del Mar.
- For something sweet head to Bubó, where you’ll find delicious cakes and pastries. Located right behind La Vinya del Senyor.
- For your coffee fix head to El Magnífico, which a few years ago was declared the best coffee in Spain. According to the owner, the secret is that he makes his coffee with love.
- Yummy pintxos (tapas on a little wooden stick) can be had at Euskal Etxea, next to the Picasso Museum.
- For seafood lovers, look for La Paradeta behind the market. It opens at 1 pm and there’s usually a line so try to arrive a bit earlier.
Attractions near El Born CCM
There are many attractions near El Born CCM: