Photograph of the section of the old Rec Comtal preserved at the Born site

The Rec Comtal, invisible heritage

An itinerary explains how the mediaeval settlement from the Besòs brought wealth and opportunities to the inhabitants of the city.

Now that Catalonia is once again experiencing a drought, perhaps it is a good time to take a look back at how a city like Barcelona was supplied with water before the construction of the current infrastructures for catchment, drinking water treatment and distribution.

In this context of water emergency, El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria has programmed three outings of the guided tour El Rec Comtal. Com l’aigua dibuixa la ciutat, once a month. The activity lasts two hours and is conducted in Catalan.

he tour begins at the Born archaeological site, where the remains of the city's ancient water supply and drainage systems are preserved. Walking through the Ribera neighbourhood and the archaeological site, participants will learn about the complex water network that shaped the urban and domestic spaces: sewers, washing places, drains, channels, tanks, fountains, wells and latrines.

Above all these elements is the Rec Comtal, a thirteen-kilometre-long medieval irrigation channel that carried water from Montcada i Reixac to the city before emptying into the sea. Heir to the Roman aqueduct of ancient Barcino, it is one of the most important hydraulic infrastructures in the history of Barcelona, as it was used to irrigate the market gardens, power the mills and run the textile workshops, tanneries, fusinas and slaughterhouses.

Tickets for the itinerary cost 4 euros and can be purchased at the centre's ticket offices or by clicking here. You can also book in advance by email at or by calling 93 256 68 50 (Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 7 pm).

Publication date: Tuesday, 07 March 2023
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