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The bastions of the Mercadal medieval wall

How many times have you walked along the Gran Via de Jaume I? Do you know that in its place there used to be a city wall with several bastions until 1936? You may find out in the following interactive animation:

Chronology

Work started on the wall that enclosed the entire Mercadal district of the city in the year 1418, and it came to an end in the mid-fifteenth century. Its walls were lower and stouter than the ones in the old part of the city, and were approximately one kilometre long, running along the present-day Gran Via de Jaume I all the way from Plaça de la Independència square to the Municipal Market, and closed off at the river end.

Eighteen towers were built up against the wall in the sixteenth century. Then in the second half of the seventeenth century, in an attempt to adapt to new military strategies, new fortifications were built, intended to supplement the medieval wall; fortification with polygonal bastions all along the wall was the new approach. In the Mercadal section, five bastions were built into the wall at the front, with a lunette (small bastion) further out. Trenches were dug, and embankments were built against the walls. The appearance of artillery made it necessary to lower the towers and to enlarge them to make room for the batteries of arms. Twelve of the eighteen towers were left standing in view, with a cannon placed in each during the Napoleonic sieges.

In the late nineteenth century, these Mercadal walls became one of the chief obstacles to the growth of the city.

From 1901 to 1936, sections of the wall and the bastions were demolished to make way for the present-day avenue. At first, one of the towers in the wall, the Santa Clara tower, was left as a memorial, but it was eventually demolished in 1958 on the occasion of the building of the Inland Revenue delegation building.

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