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Montjuïc

Montjuic

Barcelona's little mountain, Montjüic, is a natural escape from the city bustle—although, with so many monuments to see, museums to visit and historical facts to absorb, it's got its own sort of hubbub. For centuries, the hillside was fortified, and the latest such construction, the Castell de Montjuïc, dates from the 17th century. Among its historical and cultural draws are a handful of museums: the Museum of Popular Arts and Industries, the Museum of Art of Catalonia, the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnological Museum and the Miró Foundation. All are situated within the well manicured gardens and walkways that smatter the naturally wooded hillside, once used by inhabitants of the old city (today's Ciutat Vella district) to grow food and graze animals. Many of Montjuïc's most famous buildings and sites (the Palau Nacional, the Estadi Olimpic, the Venetian towers and the fantastical Font Màgica fountains among them) arrived for the 1929 world's fair. At this time, an amusement park, featuring Spain in miniature, was also built, and Poble Espanyol remains today. The 1929 development of Montjuïc anticipated future events (for example, an anti-fascist Olympics was slated for 1936), which were unfortunately waylaid by the Spanish civil war. Indeed, during the war, Montjuïc was the site of executions of both Nationalists and Republicans. Fortunately, Montjuïc reestablished itself as a landmark for its city's people quickly after Franco, when the city rebuilt, restored and reclaimed the parkland. The site was most recently transformed during the 1992 Olympic games when Barcelona refurbished the existing Olympic stadium (renaming it Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys after the Catalan president shot by Franco) and built swimming and diving pools and a telecommunications tower designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Today, visitors can reach the top of Montjuïc on foot, bicycle, metro, funicular or cable car.