- Open Air
The Clock Tower is an old lighthouse located on the city’s Fishermen’s Port.
Metro: L3 (Green) - Drassanes
L4 (Yellow) - Barceloneta
Bus: 47, 59, D20, V15 & V19
Its structure consists of a square base and a tall tower, topped off by a large-faced clock. Built in 1772, it was designed by engineer Jorge Próspero de Verboom, who oversaw the renovation of the entire port, transforming it into an iconic neighborhood symbol in the 18th century.
One of the most interesting anecdotes about the structure is the important role it played in standardizing the international decimal Metric system that’s observed all over the world today. It happened in 1791, when the Paris Academy of Sciences sought out a unique measurement system for use throughout Europe. The Paris meridian was used as a reference point, concretely for its position between Dunkirk and Barcelona. Well, it just so happens that the lighthouse marked one of the geodesic points where scientist Pierre François André Méchain took the measurements that today serve as the basis of the decimal Metric system. As it happens, the tower stood in an amazingly strategic spot, as its location coincided with the intersection of a parallel and the Paris Meridian. In fact, years later, Ildefons Cerdà too would take this into account, when he plotted Avinguda Paral·lel and Avinguda Meridiana in the course of designing the Eixample expansion; indeed, those two avenues coincide exactly with the imaginary lines referenced by their names.
In the 20th century, as an unintended consequence of improvements made to the Port of Barcelona, the lighthouse was stripped of its principal function; in 1904, the Montjuïc lighthouse was built to replace it, and that structure has lasted to the present day. The designers overseeing the reconstruction declined the possibility of demolishing the iconic original lighthouse, recognizing its iconic symbolism. The perfect compromise was to rebuild it as a clock tower, giving it a new role to play, and one it could keep indefinitely.