Six museums show you how it’s done

Do you know where the things we consume on a daily basis come from and how they’re produced? How is the copper wire that brings electricity to our homes manufactured? How does water reach our taps? Where does the cement used to build our homes come from? What about clothes? Or spaghetti? Six museums in the regions of Barcelona show you what lies behind some of the most commonplace elements of life. Sound interesting? Well come along for a visit!

1. Copper Museum

At the Copper Museum you'll discover that this noble metal is one of the few materials that can be recycled an infinite number of times, which means we could in theory use a necklace dating from the Neolithic period to obtain the copper necessary for the conductor track of a state-of-the-art computer. Without losing any of its properties! What's more, from the walkway of La Farga you can observe the copper smelting and wire drawing processes.

2. Cement Museum

Among the wonders of our industrialised world which no longer surprise us, there are two which are so omnipresent we take no notice of them. One is cement, such a basic element in our cities. It was developed in England in the mid-19th century and given the name Portland cement. The first Portland cement factory in Spain was built in Castellar de n'Hug, on the orders of Eusebi Güell. It no longer operates as a cement plant but instead houses the impressive Cement Museum. You can get there by train from la Pobla de Lillet, stopping off at the Artigas Gardens designed by Antoni Gaudí.

3. Agbar Water Museum

We turn on the tap and, as if by magic, a jet of fresh water runs over our hands. It holds no surprises for us yet would have been unthinkable to our ancestors who had to collect their water from public fountains and wash their clothes at communal washing places. However, at the end of the 19th century, the needs of an emerging industrial sector and a growing population led work to begin on the pumping and piping of water from subterranean aquifers. Today, facilities built in the Catalan modernist style display this industrial archaeology and raise awareness about the importance of this resource.

4. La Casa de les Aigües (The Water House)

This facility was designed by the architect Rovira i Trias in order to draw water from subterranean aquifers and solve the city’s water supply problems at the end of the 19th century. The Casa de les Aigües (also known as the Montcada Wells) is a magnificent example of Catalan industrial modernism.

5. The Sèquia (Irrigation Channel) and the Can Font Water Centre

The Sèquia or Irrigation Channel has been carrying water from the Llobregat River in Balsareny to Manresa since the 14th century. This great feat of hydraulic engineering, dating from the Middle Ages, stretches 26 km, with many places of natural, historical and architectural interest dotted along it. At the Can Font Water Centre you can see how clean, fresh and purified water reaches your home, something which we take for granted but which is still considered a miracle in many parts of the world!

6. Pastes Sanmartí

There are so many things that form part of our everyday lives that seem insignificant to us. “What shall we have for lunch today? Oh, anything really... spaghetti?” But hey, pasta is not just anything; especially the artisanal pasta made by Pastes Sanmartí, in the spa town of Caldes de Montbui. It’s a product with plenty of history and a secret behind it. A secret thanks to which, as the slogan of this family company says, they've been “fideu (vermicelli) makers since 1700”. You'll have to pay them a visit to discover it.


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