Part 1. The site: history

You are just in front of one of the sites where students of the degree in Archaeology of the University of Barcelona carry out fieldwork. And with good reason, its history goes several centuries back.


If we move back to the Roman foundation of Barcino, we would be in the suburbium, outside the city walls. To be exact, the site was located 645 metres far from the north-west wall gate. A path went from the gate through today’s Carrer dels Arcs and Carrer de la Canuda to the Carrer Tallers.


Roman walls remained many years, but from the 13th century the city began to grow outside its walls: boroughs associated with religious and economic enclaves appeared, such as Santa María del Mar, the Atarazanas Reales and Santa Anna. The process —initiated in the 11th century and consolidated throughout the 12th century— resulted in a walled city that hosted the most important political buildings, aristocratic residences and the Jewish neighbourhood.


Thanks to this process, the path that led to the Carrer Tallers consolidated as the community that began to grow around the church of Santa Anna and the borough of the Santo Sepulcro acquired importance. A certificate of the Consell de Cent (Barcelona’s governmental institution) proves that before 1350 some potter’s workshops were located at the Carrer Tallers. Workshops’ intense activity and the waste they generated bothered neighbours and, curiously, the certificate banned artisans from throwing away clay waste in street!


In spite that James I commanded the construction of a new wall, the neighbourhood of El Raval remained out of the wall until the 14th century when Peter IV the Ceremonious set up a project that extended city walls. In this way, urbanization was made according to the paths that had appeared outside the walls.


In 1841, Antoni Tarrés sited his workshop here; there were three houses, a courtyard, an orchard, some warehouses to weave and make pottery, a kiln and some related facilities. In 1858, he carried out a series of refurbishments that created a building with rooms that look out onto the Carrer Tallers, a building that served to exhibit pottery pieces and another four-storey building were pottery was made. In addition, the estate included three big kilns, large basements to store firewood and some buildings devoted to glazed pottery. 


Tarrés’ son inherited the business and, after going into partnership with a prestigious potter, he moved to the Ronda de Sant Pere. In 1953, it took place the last refurbishment of the building until its demolition in 2005.




Part 2. UB excavations

Students of the degree in Archaeology of the University of Barcelona carry out fieldwork here. Last excavation campaign took place in June and July 2014 by a group of 25 students. Its objectives were:


• To delimit the boundaries between the site and the Casa de la Misericordia

• To determine building’s chronology to prove if it was part of Antoni Tarrés’ studio where he created pottery

• To establish the different construction phases underwent by the site


In order to fulfil these objectives, the site was divided into two sectors: the southern, named sector 1000, and the northern, named sector 2000. The first one includes structures built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Later, two structures were built producing a gate: they might have been part of a former building or been the place where Tarrés exhibited his works.


Moreover, remains found in this sector include different deposits and settling basins of clay, as well as a drainage channel that contributed to the process of purification. Furthermore, a pavement which seems to be contemporary with this period has been documented.


All the area was remodelled. We own some information about the process but it has been impossible to date it, apart from the last phase which belongs to the refurbishment made in 1953.


In the sector 2000 we were able to document a two-metre wide deposit and a large settling basin of clay. The basin underwent several reforms throughout the time: it was narrowed, it was used as a basin that supported a smaller one, it was re-paved, etc. In order to fulfil its function as an area to decant clay, different glazed pipes that run into this structure were built. Indicating a probable shift in business, a large hydraulic structure has been found: a drainage ditch cased in ceramic glaze passes through the site and drained into the Carrer Tallers.


Four more channels have been documented in this sector, three in the eastern area and one in the western area. Despite the impossibility to determine their purpose, the abundance of buttons, needles and a safety pin relate it with the textile industry.


As the site continued to be refurbished, many channels are totally or partially destroyed: new structures were added but their function remains unknown, new channels were built, etc.


In any case, excavations have allowed establishing a chronology that explains the changes underwent by the site over the years:


17th century?

Before 1858

From 1858

Before 1950

From 1953

The construction of the wall that separates the site from the Casa de la Misericordia was the first important urbanization of the area. Unfortunately, it has been impossible to set the exact date of its construction.

Before Tarrés purchased the piece of land, an L-shaped building and probably a small deposit were built.

Tarrés purchased the site in 1841, but he did not carry out the refurbishment until 1858. Excavations revealed that there were two different spaces in the site: the northern sector and southern one.

In this period, previous structures were demolished and waste from the workshop began to be thrown away in the street. Moreover, a new channel network was built but it has been impossible to determine its function. However, remains suggest that it could have served the textile industry.

From the second half of the 20th century, a skylight was built in the building in order to get more light into it. The building remained like that until its demolition in 2005.



Part 3. Guided tours

Antoni Tarrés became a master among pottery workers. As time went by, in order to consolidate his position, he purchased some properties and workshops in Barcelona and L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.


Besides bricks and vessels, he created a great number of ornamental objects for the city’s architecture. His workshop was the first factory that produced these ornamental objects.


Tarrés worked together with prestigious architects at the end of the 19th century, for example Garriga i Roca and Francesc Daniel Molina. In 1846, a reform allowed increasing the height of a facade if it was nicely decorated; this served him to promote his work across the city.
























If you want to enjoy at first hand the work that Antoni Tarrés carried out at his workshop, we suggest you a short tour that begins here. Then, you will visit five different places around Barcelona city centre where you will be able to enjoy some extraordinary works.






  • Unitat de Cultura Científica i Innovació (UCC+i)
  • Edifici Històric
  • Gran Via, 585
  • 08007 Barcelona
  • Telèfon: 934 035 412

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  • Universitat de Barcelona
  • Unitat de Cultura Científica i Innovació (UCC+i)
  • 934 035 412