Behind large wooden doors, at number 10 of Carrer Paradis, a narrow, zig zaggie street between the cathedral and Plaça de Sant Jaume, is a spot with hidden history that I am going to show you today.
Upon entering those wooden doors (when they are open!) you find a courtyard, which is bright and yellow and rather Art Déco in style when you look up towards the sky, and where minimalist green balconies with a profusion of potted plants create an interesting contrast.
At a lower level the ‘scenery’ changes dramatically, and Gothic arches on slim, dainty columns separate 3 arched windows with pretty stained glass insets…
… but what is that, which can be seen through the windows?
They are a handful of massive Roman columns! And that is the secret that this courtyard keeps, it hides the Temple of Augustus, or what is left of it, a well kept remnant of Barcelona’s Roman past.
The columns stand tall above ground level, and the building which hides them from view appears wrapped around them in a protective manner. Just as well, for they are glorious and have been quite well preserved, as can be seen from the detail shown below.
I love how there are very mundane, neighbourly windows just beside the column to the left, squeezed into a corner. And find the minty green that has been used to colour the walls to be very soothing. I wonder what it’s like to live, bathed in soothing minty green light?
Impressive, aren’t they?
Looking back towards the entrance and to the space behind the columns, it becomes apparent that we are surrounded by a Gothic structure, which is delightful in its own right. It was built in the 15th Century and houses the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya, an association dedicated to promoting excursions around Catalunya, which was created in the late 19th Century.
Above our heads, a skylight keeps the columns dry and safe from the inclemencies of weather as well as the droppings of pigeons, sea gulls and cotorras that can be seen around town. Hopefully this will keep this gem of a ruin in good shape for many generations to enjoy!