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Hercules Fountain

Barcelona

Walking through the streets of Barcelona, no one would say that this city is more than two thousand years old. And that’s because, although buried under its soil there may be Roman, Greek, Phoenician and Carthaginian's remains, practically nothing of real antiquity stayed on the surface in the view of passers-by.

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Walking through the streets of Barcelona, no one would say that this city is more than two thousand years old. And that’s because, although buried under its soil there may be Roman, Greek, Phoenician and Carthaginian's remains, practically nothing of real antiquity stayed on the surface in the view of passers-by.

The roads of the Roman Barcino were, for sure, filled with statues dedicated to the Gods, the Newts and the Nereids; but today, as you can see, all that’s left here is the Hercules Fountain. It was built between 1797 and 1802, in the middle of the neoclassical period, and the thing is that at that time, they loved the splendour of the classic sculptures. Perhaps they are still here, but in pieces and fifteen meters underground.

So, because of those things that happen in history, in this fountain, work of Josep Moret and Salvador Gurri, we find the oldest statue that exists in the millennial Barcelona.

If we look at the robust hero for a while, it is difficult to avoid letting our heads travel to the past, to the enigmatic origins of the city. It seems that we will never know if it was Hercules himself who founded it after a shipwreck, if it was Melkart, a mythical Phoenician character who would have arrived here a thousand years before Christ, or if it was the Carthaginians of the Barca clan, more than seven centuries later.

What it is pretty clear is that the Romans built this city on top of a much older population, to which they gave brightness and grandiosity as only they knew. Barcino became as important as it proclaimed: a city with its Senate and its flag with the inscription “SPQB” (the Senate and the People of Barcino), instead of the well known “SPQR” (The Senate and the People of Rome).

It is all these things we think about when we observe the demigod who watches from the top of his pedestal in the central Paseo de San Juan. But we also wonder how the inauguration of the monument could have been back in 1802. The act was presided over by King Charles IV and his wife, Maria Luisa. They probably got bored stiff while the formalities of rigour took place. Perhaps, he was thinking about his violins and his hunting dogs, and she in her lover Manuel Godoy. Or maybe, both of them pondered on the silly faces of the people with whom they were portrayed in the family picture that Goya drew the previous year.

Surely they weren’t too interested in the fountain or the face of the strong son of Zeus; but today, however, that old statue is as rare as it is valuable in a Barcelona that keeps very few traces of those distant times.


Hercules Fountain

Carrer de Còrsega, 436
08037 Barcelona

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