Roman Barcelona. The Foundation of Barcelona
Despite romantic theories based on Hannibal’s surname, Barca, and the foundation of Barcelona, the Romans founded Barcelona. However, you might say the ambitious Carthaginian leader was partly responsible for the city’s creation.
Rome was at loggerheads with Carthage, it’s long standing rival in trade who, despite heavy defeats in the Eastern Mediterranean, still held the straits of Gibraltar and South Eastern Spain which they controlled from their base in Carthago Nova –modern Cartagena, in southern Spain.
From here the Carthaginians profited massively from the mining and export of silver, tin, copper and lead.
Their wealth and influence grew once more and Rome, its allies and partners in trade, were increasingly concerned.
When Hannibal tried to extend his territory to River Ebro —the limit agreed in his treaty with Rome— the Republic declared war. But Hannibal was an audacious leader and promptly began a daring march through Spain (crossing the Pyrenees inland at Cerdanya), France and on towards Italy, famously crossing the Alps with his army on the backs of elephants.
In response, Rome sent two legions to Spain landing at the Greek colony of Empuries close to today’s modern resort of L’Escala, thus cutting Hannibal’s supply lines and opening the route to Carthago Nova.
Tarragona was now capital of Nearer Spain and was endowed with towering city walls, forum, circus, aqueduct and amphitheatre. Roman Tarraco, or to give it its full name, Colonia Iulia Urbis Triumphalis Tarraconensis grew to a population of over 30,000 people. The foundation of Barcelona was due to this military campaign and the opening of trade routes with Southern Spain, Hispania Ulterior.
Roman Aqueduct outside Tarragona
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