Barcelona - Around Town - Montjuïc (part 1)

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Named the “Jewish Mountain”, after an important Jewish cemetery that existed here in the Middle Ages, this sizeable and mountainous park rises 213 m (700 ft) above the port. The park itself was first landscaped for the 1929 International Exhibition, when the elegant Palau Nacional and the strikingly modern Mies van der Rohe Pavilion were also built. During the following decade, the area fell into general disuse and soon became synonymous with decline. Together with the grim shadow cast over the hill by the castle, which for years acted as a slaughterhouse for Franco’s firing squads, it is little short of miraculous that Montjuïc is now one of Barcelona’s biggest tourist draws. However, as the main site for the 1992 Olympics, held on its southern slopes, Montjuïc was given a comprehensive face-lift and the area was transformed into a beautiful green oasis, with two fabulous art museums and a host of stunning sports facilities. All these elements are interconnected by a network of exterior escalators and interlaced with quiet, shady gardens, which offer dazzling views over Barcelona and a welcome respite from the bustle of the city.


  1. Palau Nacional & Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

    The Palau Nacional is home to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya which exhibits Catalonia’s historic art collections. Boasting one of Europe’s finest displays of Romanesque art, the museum includes a series of breathtaking, 12th-century frescoes, rescued from Catalan Pyrenean churches and painstakingly reassembled in a series of galleries here. 

    Palau Nacional
  2. Fundació Joan Miró

    One of Catalonia’s most representative painters, Joan Miró (1893–1983), donated many of the 11,000 works held by the museum. Housed in a stark, white building designed by his friend, architect Josep Lluís Sert, the collection – the world’s most complete array of Miro’s work – was recently extended to include 25 new pieces by him. 

  3. Font Màgica

    Below the cascades and fountains that splash down from the regal Palau Nacional is the Magic Fountain, designed by Carles Buigas for the International Exhibition of 1929. As darkness descends, countless jets of water are choreographed in a mesmerizing sound and light show. When the water meets in a single jet it can soar to 15m (50ft). The extravagant finale is often accompanied by a recording of Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé singing the anthem Barcelona as the fountain fades from pink to green and back to white before silently and gracefully disappearing.

    • Av de la Reina Maria Cristina

    • May–Sep: every 30 minutes 9:30–11:30pm Thu–Sun; Oct–Apr: every 30 minutes 7–8:30pm Fri & Sat

    • Free

    • DA

  4. Castell de Montjuïc

    Dominating Montjuïc’s hill, this gloomy castle was once a prison and torture centre for political prisoners. At the end of the Spanish Civil War, 4,000 Catalan nationalists and republicans were shot in the nearby Fossar de la Pedrera, now a grassy field overlooked by thick stone walls. After such a tragic history, the castle is entering a happier phase: it is being developed into an international peace centre, but visitors can still climb the sturdy bastions for superb views of the port below.

    • C/Castell

    • Open Tue–Sun

    • Free

    Statue, Castell de Montjuïc

    Castell de Montjuïc
  5. Estadi Olímpic

    The Olympic Stadium was first built for the 1936 Workers’ Olympics, which were cancelled with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War . Today, the original Neo-Classical façade is still in place, though the stadium was entirely rebuilt for the 1992 Olympic Games. It is home to Espanyol football team . The nearby Museu Olímpic i de l’Esport is a modern interactive museum dedicated to all aspects of sport.

    • Av de l’Estadi

    • Open 10am–6pm (to 8pm Apr–Sep) Tue–Sat, 10am–2pm Sun

    • Adm

    • DA

    Estadi Olímpic
  6. Teatre Grec

    This beautiful, open-air amphitheatre was inspired by the Classical ideas of what was known as Noucentisme. This late 19th-century architectural movement was a reaction to the overly-decorative nature of Modernisme. With its leafy, green backdrop and beautiful gardens, there are few places more enchanting than this to watch Swan Lake or listen to some jazz. The theatre is used for shows during the summertime Festival del Grec , when it also becomes home to a luxurious outdoor restaurant.

    • Pg Santa Madrona

    • 10am– dusk

    • Free (when there are no shows)

  7. Palau Sant Jordi

    The star of all the Olympic installations is this steel-and-glass indoor stadium  designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. Holding around 17,000 people, the stadium is the home of the city’s basketball team . The esplanade – a surreal forest of concrete and metal pillars – was designed by Aiko Isozaki, Arata’s wife. Further down the hill are the indoor and outdoor Bernat Picornell Olympic pools; both open to the public.

    • Av de l’Estadi

    • Open 10am–6pm (to 8pm May–Sep) Sat & Sun

    • Free

    • DA

    Palau Sant Jordi
  8. Pavelló Mies van der Rohe

    You might wonder exactly what this box-like pavilion of stone, marble, onyx and glass is doing bang in the middle of Montjuïc’s monumental architecture. Years ahead of its time, this surprisingly rationalist gem represents Germany’s contribution to the 1929 Exhibition. Built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969), the elegant pavilion was soon demolished, only to be reconstructed in 1986. Inside, the elegant sculpture Morning by Georg Kolbe (1877–1947) is reflected in a small lake.

    • Av Marquès de Comillas

    • Open 10am–8pm daily

    • Adm

    Barcelona Chairs, Pavelló Mies van der Rohe
  9. Poble Espanyol

    This Spanish poble (village) has been recreated from a hotchpotch of scaled-down famous buildings and streets from around Spain. Although a bit tacky, it has become a centre for arts and crafts, including an impressive glass-blowers’ workshop. There are restaurants and cafés aplenty, and a couple of trendy nightclubs (see La Terrrazza).

    • Av Marquès de Comillas

    • Open 9am–8pm Mon, 9am–2pm Tue–Thu, 9am–4am Fri, 9am–5pm Sat, 9am–midnight Sun

    • Adm

    Poble Espanyol
  10. Caixa Forum

    The Fundació La Caixa’s impressive collection of contemporary art is housed in a former textile factory, designed by Modernista architect Puig i Cadafalch. The collection began in 1985 and assembles some 800 works by Spanish and foreign artists, which are shown in rotation along with temporary international exhibitions.

    • Av Marquès de Comillas

    • Open 10am–8pm Tue–Sun

    • Free

    • DA

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