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Barcelona’s Top 10 : Parc de la Ciutadella

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Unfolding languidly just to the east of the old town, this green, tranquil oasis provides a welcome respite from the city centre. Built in the late 1860s on the site of a former military fortress (ciutadella), the park was artfully designed to offer Barcelona’s citizens an experience of nature (shady corners, paths and greenhouses), recreation (rowing boats on the lake) and culture (two museums). The 1888 Universal Exhibition was held here and in preparation the city’s great Modernista architects were brought in to work their magic. Lluís Domènech i Montaner created the eye-catching Castell dels Tres Dragons (today the Zoological Museum) and a young Antoni Gaudí helped design the flamboyant Cascade Fountain.

  • Main entrance: Pg Pujades

  • Park: open 8am– 10:30pm daily

  • free

  • DA

Zoo

  • open Nov–Feb: 10am–5pm daily; Mar–May & Oct: 10am–6pm daily; Jun–Sep: 10am–7pm daily

  • €16, children €10

  • DA

Museu de Ciències Naturals (Castell dels Tres Dragons) & Museu de Ciències Naturals (Edifici Geologia)

  • open 10am–6:30pm Tue–Sat, 10am–2:30pm Sun

  • €3.50 joint ticket

  • DA


Park Guide

Two metro stops provide access to the park: to approach through the grand Arc de Triomf, disembark at the metro station of the same name. If you’re heading to the zoo, get off at Barceloneta metro stop, which is within easy walking distance.


Park Plan

Pick up a picnic at the bustling Santa Caterina food market (northwest of the park), or have a drink and a snack within the colonial elegance of the Hivernacle café. If it’s a hot day, cool down with a bowl of gazpacho.



Top 10 Sights
  1. Cascade Fountain

    One glimpse of this Baroque-style fountain and you’ll guess Gaudí had a hand in its creation. Winged horses with serpent tails rear over a waterfall and cherubs play amid jets of water.

    Statuary on the Cascade Fountain
  2. Arc de Triomf

    The grandest entrance to the park is the Arc de Triomf, designed for the 1888 Exhibition by Josep Vilaseca i Casanoves. Topping the arch are angels tooting horns and offering wreaths.

  3. Parc Zoològic

    Snowflake, the albino gorilla is just one of the stars at this child-friendly zoo, which also has pony rides, electric cars and a train .

  4. Llac

    Located in the centre of the park is a placid, man-made lake where it’s possible to rent a boat for half an hour or more.

  5. Antic Mercat del Born

    The outline of Barcelona’s medieval streets, houses, shops and palaces are revealed below this old market. The foundations date from 1714, the year Felipe V and his French allies entered the city.

  6. Castell dels Tres Dragons

    Domènech i Montaner’s striking building is now part of the Natural Science Museum. The centrepiece is a huge whale skeleton, which hangs amid scores of stuffed animals, including a sabre-toothed tiger.

  7. Edifici Geologia

    Roam to your heart’s content among 15,000 minerals, 14,000 rocks and over 100,000 palaeontological pieces, including a collection of Catalonian fossils.

  8. Hivernacle & Umbracle

    Palm trees and other tropical vegetation exude humidity inside the late 19th-century Hivernacle and Umbracle greenhouses. The latter was designed by architect Josep Fontseré, the former by Josep Amargós.

  9. Parlament de Catalunya

    Housed in the lovely Palau de la Ciutadella, 1891, is the Catalonian Parliament, where José Montilla (the President of Catalonia) and other political groups meet. In front is the Plaça d’Armes and a graceful waterlily pond with a sculpture (1907) by Josep Llimona.

  10. Homenatge a Picasso

    Antoni Tàpies toasts Picasso’s cubist legacy with an abstract creation of his own. Tàpies’ Homage to Picasso – a large glass cube filled with furnishings and abstract objects – requires some mental gymnastics to decipher its meaning.

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