Tucked away in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, a few steps from the Cathedral and literally clinging to the side of the Reial Cercle Artístic (lift your gaze for a peek at its stunning terrace), Fuente de Santa Ana might seem like just another meeting spot for many. Yet, this fountain is brimming with history – and when I say brimming, it could very well be Barcelona’s oldest tale of waterworks, dating back to 1375. Before it became the fountain we see today, this medieval spring constructed in 1356 served as a watering hole for the horses of travelers staying at a nearby inn. It marks a time when Barcelona first embraced potable water, making it one of the city’s pioneering fountains.
Over the centuries, Fuente de Santa Anna has undergone numerous transformations. Initially believed to be octagonal, it now sports five sides. The 19th century added a sculptural figure to its ornamental part. Its most notable makeover happened in 1918 when Josep Aragay graced its walls with five ceramic panels and topped the structure with beautifully crafted vases. In 2002, these vases received a much-needed restoration after nearly a century of wear and tear.
Today, the fountain showcases Aragay’s ceramic decorations, a city crest on its central body, and mascarons on four of its walls. This spot isn’t just a place to meet; it’s a dive into the depths of Barcelona’s rich history. So next time you’re wandering through the Gothic Quarter, stop, look, and let the layers of stories wash over you.