1 - H. Hohenberg, G. Braun

The first view of Barcelona in an engraving. This was published in the Atlas Civitates Orbis Terrarum that for the first time systematically covered a selection of European cities. It is a general view overlooking Barcelona, as seen from the mountain of Montjuïc, the natural viewpoint for the city, shown by the small hills situated in the foreground of the picture. Behind these are the Huertas de San Bertrán, or vegetable plots, represented as an agricultural area and then the city itself, delimited by the medieval wall. The stretch close to the Atarazanas, or dockyard buildings – highly visible on the coastal side – was completed at the beginning of the 16th century. The area of Rabal appears with a few agricultural buildings, on the low side, which allows the first circuit of the medieval walls that enclosed the city by the Ramblas to be made out. From that point on the city is more compact and the most important religious buildings stand out. The urban vista fits into a territory that is the plan of Barcelona with a background that is composed of the coastal mountain chain.

The original drawing likely dates from 1535. Its probable creator, Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen, a Flemish artist, must have done it due to the Conquest of Tunis campaign carried out by the emperor Charles V at that time. The expedition sailed from the port of Barcelona and commemorative tapestries with the view of the city and royal troupes were manufactured. The city represented by Vermeyen does not yet show the urban remodelling undertaken throughout the 16th century, such as the Baluarte de las Atarazanas – or dockyard bastion – one of the first modifications of the modern era undertaken on the medieval walls.

This signifies that the first printed view we have of Barcelona is of the city as it was laid out in the medieval era. The engraving of Civitates would be repeated down the centuries with few variations as concerns the city; even when representing sieges and other warlike events.