About Temple of Augustus – Barcelona
The Temple of Augustus is a poorly preserved Imperial Roman ruin hidden within the back streets of Barcelona, Spain. Built to honour the Emperor Augustus in the 1st century AD, today all that remains of the temple are 4 main columns. However when it was built, the Temple of Augustus would have been far more spectacular and formed part of the Forum of Barcelona.
Temple of Augustus – Barcelona history
Barcelona, or Barcino as the Romans knew it, was a colony established as the Romans arrived in Catalan territory during the 3rd century BC. The location and former inhabitants were gradually Romanised, the city consolidated through features of typical Roman cities. In Barcelona, one such feature was the Temple of Augustus, built between 15 and 13 BC for the Emperor Augustus who founded Barcino during his reign.
The temple was constructed in a rectangular shape on a podium surrounded on all sides by columns. In the centre was the room containing an image or sculpture of Augustus accessed from the forum. During the Roman period, the 35 metre long temple would have been a massive and dominating feature in Barcino’s landscape with ceremonies performed outside.
Unlike many of Barcelona’s ancient buildings, the Temple of Augustus was incorporated into the city’s medieval construction rather than being destroyed. Most of the stones from the temple were repurposed for other buildings and it was only in the 19th century that their origins were dated back to the Romans.
During the early 20th century, the Gothic building was bought by the Centre Excursionista de Cataluña, a hiking club, who assigned the Catalan architect Lluís Domènech the task of restoring the columns and building a courtyard to display them.
Temple of Augustus – Barcelona today
Today the 9 metre high Corinthian style columns can be seen – free of charge – nestled within the Gothic Centre Excursionista de Cataluña’s bright turquoise courtyard. The temple’s remaining 4 columns are mounted on an old brick wall and tower above you, providing a sense of the domineering presence ancient visitors would have felt in the Roman forum.
At the temple ruins, there are informative plaques telling the story of Roman Barcelona and the temple itself.
Getting to the Temple of Augustus – Barcelona
The Temple is easily found on foot, backing onto the Catedral de Barcelona. The nearest metro stop is Jaume I on the green line, L4. The local bus routes are 17, 19, 40 and 45.