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Regional route Catalonia | Spain

One of Spain’s historically autonomous regions, Catalonia was one of the first industrialised regions in Europe and dominated by the textile industry. This has even made its way into the language. Vapor actually means steam, but Catalans use this word to describe a cloth factory. The first steam-powered ... more


One of Spain’s historically autonomous regions, Catalonia was one of the first industrialised regions in Europe and dominated by the textile industry. This has even made its way into the language. Vapor actually means steam, but Catalans use this word to describe a cloth factory.

The first steam-powered factory in Catalonia, a textile factory, was built in Barcelona in 1832. Until that point, the country had already experienced a development which contrasted greatly with the process of industrialisation in most other Mediterranean regions. Although this indicated a predominantly agricultural economy, trade and crafts had blossomed in Catalonia since the Middle Ages. Manufactured products included nails and small arms from Ripoll and high-quality paper from the mills around Capellades, but the strongest impetus for Catalonia’s industrial development sprang from chintz. Towards the end of the 18th century, Barcelona was intermittently Europe’s largest producer of this printed cotton fabric. By the mid-19th century, the Catalan cotton industry had climbed to third place worldwide, behind England and France.

Steam power quickly dominated transport as well. Spain’s first rail connection, between Barcelona and Mataró, was inaugurated in 1848. Difficulties in obtaining cheap coal to fire the steam-powered machines meant that water power was used in the new textile factories along the main river courses from the 1860s onwards. Although there were mining operations to some degree in Ogassa, Cercs and Berga, the lack of coal and iron ore prevented any significant metal-processing industry from developing. As a result, Catalonia as an industrial economy was geared solely towards the textile industry.

In the pre-industrial era, production sites such as grain, fulling and paper mills, forges, tanneries and similar were designed in line with the traditional architecture of the region and barely differed from typical farm buildings, Pyrenean mountain shacks or village houses with thick, stone or clay walls and tiled roofs.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, large spaces became necessary. The British example was followed and detached, multi-storey factory buildings were constructed with large windows to let in the light. However, it is modernisme, a Catalan form of art nouveau, which makes Catalonia’s industrial heritage so unmistakable. The architect Lluís Muncunill (1868-1931) was one of the most important representatives of this style and created a large number of industrial buildings. His “Vapor Aymerich, Amat i Jover”, built between 1907 and 1909 in Terrassa, is considered one of the more superb examples of European industrial architecture.


ERIH Anchor Points

Cornellà de Llobregat | Spain

The Cornellà Central Pumping Station has been ...

Museu Agbar de les Aigües
Museu Agbar de les Aigües
Ctra. de St. Boi, 4-6
08940 Cornellà de Llobregat, Spain

Terrassa | Spain

The most eye-catching feature of the Vapor ...

Catalonian Museum of Science and Industry
Museu nacional de la Ciéncia i de la Tècnica de Catalunya (mNACTEC)
Rambla d’Ègara 270
08221 Terrassa, Spain

Member Sites ERIH Association

Manresa | Spain

The museum occupies the Dipòsits Vells (Old ...

Manresa Museum of Technology
Museu de la Tècnica de Manresa
Carretera de Santpedor, 55
08242 Manresa, Spain


Capellades | Spain

The region around the town of Capellades was ...

Capellades Paper Mill Museum
Museu-Moli Paperer de Cappelades
Pau Casal 10
08786 Capellades, Spain

Castellar de n’Hug | Spain

Portland cement factories were built in most ...

Asland Cement Museum
Museu del Ciment Asland de Castellar de N’Hug
Paratge del Clot del Moro
08696 Castellar de n’Hug, Spain

Castelló d’Empúries | Spain

Castelló d’Empúries is a small town in the ...

Flour Milling Ecomuseum of Castelló d’Empúries
Ecomuseu-Farinera de Castelló d’Empúries
Carrer de Sant Francesc 5-7
17486 Castelló d’Empúries, Spain

Cercs | Spain

Around the upper reaches of the Llobregat ...

Cercs Mining Museum
Museu de les Mines de Cerc
Plaça Sant Romà s/n. Colònia Sant Corneli
08698 Cercs, Spain

Esplugues de Llobregat | Spain

The ceramics factory “Pujol i Bausis”, ...

La Rajoleta Ceramic Museum
Museu de Ceramica La Rajoleta
C. Esglèsia 36
08950 Esplugues de Llobregat, Spain

Gerri de la Sal | Spain

Salt has always been the element which has ...

Gerri de la Sal Salt Museum
Museu de Gerri de la Sal
Square Àngel Esteve, s/n
25590 Gerri de la Sal, Spain

L’Espluga de Francoli | Spain

L’Espluga de Francoli is a wine-making town ...

Museum of Wine | The wine cathedral
Museu del Vi "La catedral del Vi"
Josep M. Rendé, 5
43440 L’Espluga de Francoli, Spain

Palafrugell | Spain

The change from an agrarian to an industrial ...

Cork Museum
Museu del Suro
Placeta del Museu del Suro
17200 Palafrugell, Spain

Santa Coloma de Cervello | Spain

The Colonia Guell is a workers’ settlement in ...

Colonia Güell
Colonia Güell SA
08690 Santa Coloma de Cervello, Spain

Tàrrega | Spain

The Trepat factory, known as ‘Cal Trepat’, was ...

J. Trepat Factory Museum in Tàrrega
Museu Fàbrica J.Trepat de Tàrrega
Avinguda de Josep Trepat Galceran, 9
25300 Tàrrega, Spain

Vila Rodona | Spain

This is one of about 50 ...

Wine Cathedral
Celler Cooperatiu i Secció de Crèdit de Vila-rodona, SCCL
Avda Enric Benet, 4
43814 Vila Rodona, Spain

Vilanova i la Geltrú | Spain

This open-air museum next to the Renfe ...

Catalonia Railway Museum
Museu del Ferrocarril de Catalunya
Pl. Eduard Maristany, s/n,
08800 Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain