The History Of Barcelona's Port Vell In 1 Minute

Tara Jessop

Barcelona has long been an important port on the coast of the Mediterranean, with over 2000 years of history that date to the time of the Ancient Romans. Today, the heart of this historic maritime hub is known as ‘Port Vell’, meaning quite simply ‘Old Port’ and is home to thousands of yachts and small leisure boats.
The first traces of significant maritime activity from the city of Barcelona date back to the 4th century BC when its inhabitants first started navigating the seas for trade. The city was active as a port throughout the Middle Ages and its location on the border between the Muslim world of the South and Christian world of the North, made it a crucial epicenter of trade between civilisations. However, the area was prone to powerful storms which caused damage to the ships anchored there.

Numerous attempts were made throughout the centuries to create an artificial harbor which could offer refuge to boats. Eventually, in the 15th century one such attempt was successful, and resulted in the creation of a large dock which stretched out into the sea. This area soon became home to what is now known as the Barceloneta neighborhood.

© böhringer friedrich / WikiCommons

Today Port Vell is an important reminder of the city’s historic maritime tradition and has been the focus of significant renewal projects and investment to expand its status as a yacht harbor. One of the most recent projects has been the construction of the OneOcean marina, a somewhat controversial development which aims to attract what are known as ‘super-yachts’ (ranging up to 190 meters in length) to the city. The area around Port Vell is home to a number of historic landmarks recalling the city’s maritime past, such as the the customs’ office building known as ‘Aduana del Puerto‘ which was finished in 1902, and the clock tower known as ‘Torre del Relotge‘ which dates back to the 18th century. Port Vell is also home to a large shopping and leisure complex known as Maremagnum and is the only shopping area in Barcelona to regularly be open on Sundays.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article