Once the site of medieval jousts and autos-da-fé of the Inquisition, the passeig, at the end of Carrer Montcada behind the church of Santa Maria del Mar, was early Barcelona's most important square. Late-night cocktail bars and miniature restaurants with tiny spiral stairways now line the narrow, elongated plaza. The numbered cannonballs under the public benches are the work of the "poet of space"—a 20th-century specialist in combinations of letters, words, and sculpture—the late Joan Brossa. The cannonballs evoke the 1714 siege of Barcelona that concluded the 14-year War of the Spanish Succession, when Felipe V's conquering Castilian and French troops attacked the city ramparts at their lowest, flattest flank. After their victory, the Bourbon forces obliged residents of the Barri de la Ribera (Waterfront District) to tear down nearly a thousand of their own houses, some 20% of Barcelona at that time, to create fields of fire so that the occupying army of Felipe V could better
train its batteries of cannon on the conquered populace and discourage any nationalist uprisings. Thus began Barcelona's "internal exile" as an official enemy of the Spanish state.
Walk down to the Born itself—a great iron hangar, once a produce market designed by Josep Fontseré. The initial stages of the construction of a public library in the Born uncovered the remains of the lost city of 1714, complete with blackened fireplaces, taverns, wells, and the canal that brought water into the city. The Museu d'Història de la Ciutat opened a museum here in September 2013, kicking off a year of events concluding with the September 11, 2014, commemoration of Barcelona's defeat. The streets of the 14th- to 18th-century Born-Ribera lie open in the sunken central square of the old market; around it, on the ground level, are a number of new multifunctional exhibition and performance spaces; these give the city one of its newest and liveliest cultural subcenters.