19th-Century Chocolate Factory Unearthed in Spain

Once a large medieval manor, the building became the site of Clemente Guardia, a chocolatier featured in Barcelona’s 1888 World’s Fair.

Several artifacts have been recovered in relation to the chocolate factory, including the lead plates that would have been used to make Clemente Guardia’s chocolate labels.
Several artifacts have been recovered in relation to the chocolate factory, including the lead plates that would have been used to make Clemente Guardia’s chocolate labels.
Marta Lucas, Global Geomática

An archaeological site unearthed during construction last year in Barcelona has since been identified as a chocolate factory run by Clemente Guardia, a prosperous chocolatier operating during the 19th century, according to a statement from the Barcelona Archaeology Service.

Photogrammetry provides a view of the site’s lower floor.Photogrammetry provides a view of the site’s lower floor.Global Geomática

Several artifacts have been recovered in relation to the chocolate factory, including the lead plates that would have been used to make the chocolate labels.

Clemente Guardia began operations in 1824, according to a report from Smithsonian Magazine. This aligns with a request in 1825 from the property’s owner, Josep Serra, to carry out improvements, the archaeology service notes.

A 14th-century home

Although the chocolate factory dates from the 19th century, the building itself proves to be hundreds of years older. Arches and doors unearthed in the building can be attributed to a large medieval house of the 14th century owned by the Pia Almoina. In the next century, the house was converted to a hostel called Hostal de Sant Pere, which operated into the 16th century.

Illustrations from Global Geomática show how the site would have looked as a manor in the 14th century (left) and an upgraded building in the 18th century.Illustrations from Global Geomática show how the site would have looked as a manor in the 14th century (left) and an upgraded building in the 18th century.Global Geomática

“At the beginning of the 18th century, the old manor house was divided into three different properties, one of which corresponds to the current building in Plaça de la Llana, no. 23,” says the Barcelona Archaeology Service, translated from Catalan. Archaeologist have linked a set of seven large ceramic containers to this time period, but they have not yet determined their contents. They still plan to excavate the containers and carry out a bioarchaeological analysis of their remains.

Large ceramic containers date back to the 18th century, though archaeologists do not yet know what they would have held.Large ceramic containers date back to the 18th century, though archaeologists do not yet know what they would have held.ICUB

Clemente Guardia, a maker of chocolates and other candies, occupied the site during the 19th century. In fact, the chocolate maker—at this location—was referenced as part of the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition, Spain’s first International World’s Fair.

Work on the archaeological excavation continues, and archaeologists are continuing to learn more about the evolution of the building.

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