The town of Castelldefels has grown at the same pace as Barcelona. A group of country houses formed the very first settlement in the area which did not have any real urban structure until the 20th century. With the economic growth of Barcelona and the boom in the automotive industry, Castelldefels became a summer destination for many Barcelona citizens during the mid 50s.
Iberians and Romans
Castelldefels is situated in a strategic enclave, and its little hills provided a perfect location for the first Iberian settlements between the 3rd and 2nd century BC. Places such as La Muntanyeta and the hills of Castillo, Cal Tiesso, Torre Barona, and La Serra d’en Llopart are some of the sites where vestiges of this culture have been discovered.
With the arrival of the Romans to Barcino, these settlements became Roman towns, dedicated to agriculture in general, and particularly to the cultivation of grapes. From the numerous underwater discoveries of amphora on the coast between Castelldefels and Gavà we can deduct that there was significant marine traffic in the area until the 2nd century AC.
The Middle Ages
Castelldefels Castle is the most emblematic building from this era. It is situated on a little hill at 59 metres above sea level and built on Iberian ruins and a Roman town. The construction involved different phases. The first of these was a church, which was built in the 10th century and reconstructed in the 12th, to be later fortified in the 14th and 15th centuries.
In 1550 building began on a defensive tower. Later, in the 18th century, the church was extended, with the construction of a welcome chapel, and the expansion of the fortress to defend it from the pirate invasions which were still commonplace at that time.
From country houses to urban structure
Unlike other towns, Castelldefels did not grow from the nucleus of its medieval origins, but rather was organised around country houses and fishermen’s huts, and lacked a predefined urban structure.
It was in the 20th century, following a significant increase in population in the 18th and 19th centuries, that the town of Castelldefels started to organise itself and joined the old town (Poble Vell) with its fishermen’s huts and the more remote settlements of Les Botigues.
Boom in the 20th century
Between 1931 and 1932 an urban plan was drawn up for the city of Barcelona which considered a vast urban complex for the municipalities of Castelldefels, Gavà, and Viladecans. The aim of this project was to create “The city of rest and holidays”, an attractive destination for bathers and holidaymakers from Barcelona, especially the working classes.
However, the project failed due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and it was not until the 60s and 70s that Castelldefels saw a growth of 888% in its population, rising from 2,000 to 20,000 inhabitants, along with the development of 35 different residential areas. This was a result of the economic growth of Barcelona and the emergence of a new moneyed class that considered Castelldefels an ideal place for rest and relaxation within reach of the city.
The end of the 70s saw the consolidation of the town’s five districts; El Centro, El Castell, Vista Alegre, Can Roca, Montemar and the residential areas of Bellmar and Poal, Can Bou, and La Platja. Shortly after, the neighbourhoods of La Muntanyeta, Can Bou Canyars, Can n’Alaió, and Can Vinader were added to the town.
What we see today is a town that is open, plural, with a carefully-kept urban centre, cultural and sports facilities, and green spaces. It is a sustainable town that provides tranquillity and entertainment for residents and visitors alike.