This canal had its origin in the right margin of the Besòs, within Montcada. A lock diverted water from the river to the canal where it followed a path determined the ground elevation. It crossed Sant Andreu de Palomar and Sant Martí de Provençals and reached the walled city of Barcelona near the Porta Nova
(New Gate) and drained between the port and the current Parc de la Ciutadella. Its route was about 12 km.
It seems that even in Roman times there was an aqueduct that brought water from Besòs to Barcino. In the year 954, the Count of Barcelona, Mir I, built a canal along the same route, which would provide hydraulic power to 13 different mills up until the 18th century. It would also irrigate the land in Sant Andreu, Sant Martí and the orchards of Porta Nova
and the water would be used for certain activities such as craft-related trades like textile and leather work.
From the beginning of the 18th century, Rec Comtal served as a resource for the supply of water to Barcelona. In 1778, the first underground mine was built to increase the volume of water available, which allowed the canal to extend and intensify crop irrigation and prepared for the installation of a large number of factories and Calico fabric mills by facilitating access to the water needed for these textile production operations.
In the 19th century, the Montcada galleries were extended to increase intake and a covered aqueduct from the entrance of the mine to Barcelona was built, which would constitute the main supply of water to Barcelona for half a century. The aqueduct was closed in 1914 and replaced in 1918 with another conduit with greater guarantees of safety. Water from Montcada would be consumed by the Barcelona population until 1987.
The village of Sant Andreu had a mill. Some damaged remains of this mill still exist on the north side, adjacent to the old quarters, between C/Palomar
and C/Fernando Pessoa
. Besides the mill, there are remains of the Roman aqueduct, the old road and the bridge of Santa Coloma.
- Manel Martín Pascual (1999). El Rec Comtal (1822-1879). La lluita per l'aigua a la Barcelona del segle XIX
. Barcelona: Fundació Salvador Vives i Casajuana. [in Catalan]
- Blog sobre el Rec Comtal: http://el-rec-comtal.blogspot.com.es/