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10 Stunning Attractions of Montjuic Barcelona

Mary recently stayed in Barcelona for a few months and has fallen in love with the city and all its interesting history and attractions.

Joan Miro Museum

Joan Miro Museum

Parc de Montjuic

Given its humble beginning as a Jewish burial place, Montjuic today is not only the crown on the top of Barcelona, offering stunning views of the city, but is also the repository of Catalan history and the major player in the rebirth of Barcelona.

Many Catalans look at this site as part of their struggle for independence as many of them have fought or been imprisoned there. More recently, it has been the site of some of the most important events not just to the city but to the world as it hosted the 1929 International Exposition and the 1992 Summer Olympics. Both of these events helped Catalans move from their inward navel gazing to a profound awareness of the world around them.

Today, Montjuic is one of the most visited places in Barcelona because of the many things to see here. From here, you can have the best view of the city even a peek at "Sagrada Familia" , the Poble Espanyol, a minature Spain with all regions and their food represented as well as the treasures of the Boi Valley, 11th century church paintings house in the glorious 19th century castle at the peak of the hill.

Montjuic View from Plaza de Espanya

Montjuic View from Plaza de Espanya

History of Montjuic

Naturally wooded on its slopes, this hill was used historically by the inhabitants of Ciutat Vella to grow crops and graze animals. But given its strategic position by the Mediterranean and as one of the hills surrounding Barcelona, Montjuic played a significant role in the struggle for an independent Catalunya.

It was here that the Catalunyans took a strong defense of the city amidst fierce fighting in the 1705 Siege of Barcelona where many of Catalunya's defenders were imprisoned. In the next 300 years, Montjuic came under the control of the Spanish central government when the hill was used against the Catalan revolutionaries who looked at the hill as a place of defeat, imprisonment and execution. It was said that more than 170 people were executed in Montjuic from 1936-1938 during the Spanish Civil War..

After the end of the conflict, the area was cleared to give way to development which then attracted several international events. Today, it has become one of the most visited areas in Barcelona with its many attractions including the Olympics site, the Joan Miro Museam and even a Greek wall. Below is the map showing the various attractions in Montjuic.


Attractions in Parc de Montjuic

Montjuic

Montjuic

Stunning Attractions in Montjuic Barcelona and Vicinity

There are so many things to see and do in Montjuic for everyone. There are gardens, parks, museums, fountains, snippets of Spain, concerts, games, castle and fortress and 360 views of Barcelona. What more can one ask for? Here is a list of these attractions:

1. Palau Nacional

2. National Art Museum in Barcelona

3. Montjuic Castle

4. Olympic Park

5. Joan Miro Museum

6. Ethnology Museum

7. Joan Brossa Garden and the Botanical Garden

8. Poble Espanyol

9. The Magic Fountain

10. Caixa Forum

Palau Nacional and the Museum of National Art of Barcelona

Palau Nacional and the Museum of National Art of Barcelona

Palau Nacional of Catalunya

Approaching from Plaza Espanya, your eyes will immediately be caught by the most imposing attraction on the crest of the hill, the Palau Nacional. When the Magic Fountain is on, this whole area is transfomed into a fairy tale and with escalators to bring you all the way up, it is an easy climb.

As the main site of the 1929 International Exhibition, the Palau has a huge Oval Room, about 2,300 m², where the opening ceremony was hosted by King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenie.

There are always performers here both inside and outside. When we were there, there was a fabulous guitarist, Gaby Sellanes, who played right in front of the Palau. You can enjoy his music of the Montjuic as you gaze down the city and enjoy the full view with a cup of coffee from the Cafe.

There is also a reasonable restaurant and a cafe inside.

Romanesque Art

Romanesque Art

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

Inside the Palau Nacional is the Museum of National Art of Catalonia. This Museum takes visitors to a journey through the development of Catalan art and helps to engage with the artists who shaped the uniqueness of Catalan art.

The works of the artists are displayed on the background of what was happening in the world of art in specific eras. The Renaissance and Baroque collections are exceptional including works of Titian, Velázquez and El Greco but what we enjoyed most was the Romanesque exhibition which portrays art from the isolated villages at the foot of the Pyrenees like the Boi Valley. The design of the exhibition imitating the Church naves displays the Romaneque art close to its authentic orginal setting. One begins to develop an understanding of why Catalans see themselves as having a unique culture.

Jessica Bowler's Video of Montjuic Castle

Montjuic Castle

With 360 degree views of Barcelona, Montjuic Castle sits about 173 meters above the Port. Today, it is a popular attraction but for Barcelona, it was from this Castle that their city sustained heavy bombing and many of their fighters were imprisoned. General Franco opened a weapons museum here and the Spanish government had control of this area for many years.

Today, the citizens of Barcelona feel ownership of this place and from here, one can enjoy amazing views of the city. The gardens are well worth a visit especially in Spring and Summer..

The Olympic Park

The Olympic Park

Olympic Park Barcelona

The Olympic Park alone could take you the whole day to explore. The stadium is huge and the Telecommunications tower is such a photographic interest. But the most interesting thing to do here is to enjoy the exhilarating views of the various parts of the city and then visit the museum.

The place is quite impressive and one hopes that more events can be held here. In peak tourist season, when you get tired of the hustle of Barcelona, come up here with a picnic lunch and there are many places where you can enjoy peace and quiet with a just distant view of the busy city.

Joan Miro Museum

Joan Miro Museum

Joan Miro Museum

Joan Miro Museum displays the evolution of Joan Miro's art work and his commitment to the use art to express his nationalist views. He also experimented with many art materials which he then incorporated into his works. The collection is impressive and very well curated. You can sit in the Cafe and gaze at some of Miro's works while enjoying an Espresso. Miro's work engages children as well and with both indoor and outdoor exhibits, bring the kids.

Ethnology Museum in Montjuic Barcelona

Ethnology Museum in Montjuic Barcelona

The Ethnology Museum

Many visitors miss this, as the location is a bit hidden and the building is not as spectacular as its neighbours but what's inside is very interesting. It is an exhibition of the evolving culture over recent time. It shows the faces of Barcelona inviting tourists to look at the city with eyes of one who sees it for the first time. It is one of my most enjoyable visits as it gave a much deeper understanding of the Catalan culture today but most especially of the city of Barcelona.

Botanical Garden in Montjuic Barcelona

Botanical Garden in Montjuic Barcelona

Montjuic Gardens

There are several gardens in Montjuic worth spending time in, the Botanical Garden and the Joan Brossa Garden are but two. In these two gardens, there are many unique plants you can enjoy and some of them had been there for many years. You can sit and recover your spirit after being sensually inundated. There is also another garden within the Poble Espanyol full of sculptures of and by famous Catalan artists.

Poble Espanyol

Poble Espanyol

Poble Espanyol

Poble Espanyol was created for the 1929 International Exhibition to give visitors a glimpse of Spain's varied regions. This architectural display imitates regional Spanish villages with its narrow lanes and significant features. It give visitors a glimpse of what they might see in the different regions of Spain.

Today, these architectural gems house artisans, restaurants and stores of the region- specific food and products of Spain. This has also become a popular venue for concerts, weddings and other events. It's also a great lunch spot away from the boiling city.

The Magic Fountain

The Magic Fountain of Gaieta Buigas is a sight not to miss. Unhappily, in the winter the fountain is seldom in operation. We were lucky to be there for the New Year when the fountain danced in various colours and it was awesome.

In the summer, it is in operation the whole time. So, if this is one of the things you really want to see, make sure you visit when it is on.


The Magic Fountain in Barcelona

The Magic Fountain in Barcelona

Casaromana

Casaromana

Caixa Forum

This Art Nouveau Modernist Architectural structure at the bottom of Montjuic is a social and cultural centre. When we visited, there was the classical Greek exhibition from the British Museum and it was fascinating to see some of the rare pieces in Greek history and how these pieces spoke of the values of Greek culture.

Looking more like a Castle, this building used to be a textile factory called Casaramona. Its owners commissioned one of the famous Modernist Art Nouveau architects in Barcelona, Josep Puig I Cadafalch who created one of the most human places to work in at that time reflecting the socialist concerns that were the norm.

Part of the Caixa is the Mies Van Der Rohe Pavilion which was reconstructed when this site was the temporary German pavision in the 1929 International Exhibition in Barcelona. Mies Van der Rohe was a German-American architect famous for his "bones and skin" architecture. For him, less is more and he showed this in this pavilion shown below.

Mies Van de Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona

Mies Van de Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona

How to Get to Montjuic

The best way to go to Montjuic if you are using the Metro is to get on the funicular which is part of your Metro fare. The funicular was built to ferry people during the 1929 International Exposition. Built in 1928, it carried around 6000 people one of the leading funiculars at its time.

If you stay close to Barceloneta, the best way for you and the one which will be more fun and scenic is to use the cable car.

If you are fit enough, take a walk from Plaza Espanya and just keep going up. There are escalators to help you so the walk is easy. With a cane, my husband made it to the Olympic park and Poble Espanyol. In front of Poble Espanyol, you can take a bus to go to Montjuic Castle.

Don't be discouraged by the fees you must pay to visit the Montjuic attractions. Every Sunday, at 3 p.m. the Castle, Poble Espanyol and Palau National Museum of Art are free. In fact, the National Museum of Art is free to Seniors every day.

Cable Car to Montjuic

Cable Car in Barcelona

Cable Car in Barcelona

Where to Stay When Visiting Montjuic

Because we stayed close Plaza Espanya, we could easily walk to Montjuic and enjoy the attractions a piece at a time to truly appreciate what each one of them has to offer. The first two days of our visit, we spent on board the Hop On Hop Off bus as we really wanted to see the extent of what the city offered. We wanted a small taste of it all as we were planning to come back here after our self-drive tour of other cities and just hibernate for the winter.

We did just that and Montjuic is one place we would return to often. Just the museums alone took us several days. Our first visit took us to Joan Miro Museum. We gave this priority as we have not seen his works in other museums we have visited before.

We, then, went to Poble Espanyol to give us an idea of the other places we must visit on our drive to the rest of Spain. We got good ideas here and even identified the places we have to see in the various Spanish cities as well as the things we "must do".

A Visit to Parc de Montjuic

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium

Montjuic and Barcelona

Barcelona is so much more than Gaudi's amazing architecture. It is the core of the story of the Spanish civil war. It is a thousand year history of the changes and travails of a city. It is the home of Catalan culture. Montjuic gives a taste of all of these and helped us understand that Barcelona was worth more than a 3-day visit.

© 2018 Mary Norton

Comments

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on July 04, 2018:

Audrey, luckily the magic fountain was on Christmas and New Year so we had a glimpse of it. In the summer, it is on all the time.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on July 03, 2018:

Thanks, Mary, for this lovely tour. The Magic Fountain really caught my eye. Great photos!

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 21, 2018:

I'm happy you enjoyed it as I did. Have a great day.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on June 20, 2018:

Even if I never get to visit such a wondrous place I feel you have shared so much that I have a glimpse at what it must be like. thank you for sharing. Angels are headed your way this evening ps

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 10, 2018:

Thanks Ellen. Yes, there are many interesting attractions in Montjuic which will take up several days.

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on June 09, 2018:

It seems there is an awful lot to see and to in Montjuic

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 09, 2018:

Thank you Dora. You'll never know. Maybe, one of these days, you'll find yourself there. Those two are also my favourites.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 08, 2018:

All very interesting but my greatest pull is toward the Museu Nacional d'Art and the Montjuic Gardens. You do a great job of taking me to and through places I would never see otherwise. Thank you.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 08, 2018:

Mary I apologize a bit that I just came back for the pictures. I had a thought on the Moorish influence like "Minuets?" Thanks for the pics.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 08, 2018:

Thank you Miebakagh. I hope you do and aside from this, because you're a religious person, you must visit La Sagrada Familia of Gaudi.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on June 08, 2018:

Hello Mary Norton, thanks for the article.It is very interesting with eye-opening photos.

I am a retired Administrative Officer, and my in rest in history will some day take me to Bercelona.

I will keep the places you mentioned in mind.

Also as a religious person, all the places you mentioned are interestting.

Thank you, and have a nice time hubbing.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 07, 2018:

Thank you Heidi. Yes, the Miro Museum was our first stop. We really wanted to know more about the artist.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 07, 2018:

You would enjoy the Romanesque art and how these were used then in the Church. The display made us feel we were inside a Church. I wish I live in Barcelona so I could enjoy those gardens everyday.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 07, 2018:

What lovely photos and travel suggestions! Don't know if I'll ever get there, but at least I know it's something to put on the To-Visit list. Would love to see the Miro museum. Thanks so much for always sharing your travel love and enthusiasm!

Bede from Minnesota on June 07, 2018:

You have a gift for these travel destination articles, Mary...keep them coming, because they’re enjoyable. I would most enjoy that Catalan museum, especially with the Romanesque art. That fresco is beautiful. After that, I would go down to the botanical garden and rest for some time. The last stop would be the Pobla Española for some lunch.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 07, 2018:

Talking about brave, you are Li-Jen. Hope you're having a great time in your new world.

Li-Jen Hew on June 07, 2018:

Hello Mary! Informative article. Would gladly refer to this if I'm ever going to Barcelona! You encourage others to fulfill their bucket lists by putting aside fears about risks with love for adventures. :) That must be how you keep carrying on with a brave front.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 07, 2018:

Thank you Manatita. That must have been an experience to be there for that opening. Yes, the Sagrada was a feast for the eyes but in one corner there, there is a tiny chapel where pictures are not allowed and one can have a quiet meditation there. Yes, there is so much that Barcelona offers

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 07, 2018:

It is uphill and there are attractions along the way so it is a very interesting walk.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 07, 2018:

The gardens are well grown and has some unique and old plants that are interesting

manatita44 from london on June 07, 2018:

Your photos and the Olympic Park are amazing!

manatita44 from london on June 07, 2018:

What strikes me most, Mary, is the eloquence of your writing. Of course, it is then only natural that you bring the beauty and enchantment of the place alive. You do Barcelona great justice.

Sri Chinmoy was invited to open The Parliament of World religions there in 2004 and so I went. Naturally the Sagrada Familia and Gaudi's other works are always a must, but yes, Barcelona was so much more!!

Can you speak Spanish? Mine is fairly o.k. but in Barcelona they speak Catalan which is sometimes quite different. Your husband is very brave and adventurous. I would love to go again. I bid you much Peace.

Gregory DeVictor from Pittsburgh, PA on June 06, 2018:

Mary, the article is well documented. Montjuic sounds like a fascinating place to visit and do lots of walking.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 06, 2018:

Montjuic sounds like a very interesting place to explore. I enjoyed reading about your discoveries and looking at the lovely photos. I'd like to visit all the places that you've described, but I think I'd enjoy visiting the gardens most of all.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 06, 2018:

Thank you Liz. You are lucky to be so close to so much history and with ease of travel now, you can go back and forth easily to Barcelona.

Liz Westwood from UK on June 06, 2018:

This brings back great memories. We have visited the Magic Fountains twice, once with all our family and another time with friends. It's a memorable experience. We also took our friends up on the cable car to the castle. I haven't made it to Poble Espanyol yet, but it's on my 'to do' list. Thank you for another well-written and very well-illustrated article.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 06, 2018:

Eric, I wish I have that gift. Not as challenging as your mountain walks and adventures but for oldies, it was just wonderful.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 06, 2018:

Loved being there. Loved the history and the architectural significance. The tour was just great and the people pleasing.

Oh, oops. I only just went there with you. You transport. Magical how you do these.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 06, 2018:

You have seen the best of Montjuic Peggy and it was a privilege to be there for the Olympics opening, Mallorca is also beautiful so you had the best of two worlds.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 06, 2018:

We were there for the Olympics and saw the Olympic Stadium for opening ceremonies as well as the venue for diving which overlooked the City of Barcelona. Those fountains are beautiful! We did see the Joan Miro Foundation Museum. I wish we had had more time to see some of the other things but between Olympic events and tours of the city plus flying back and forth to Mallorca...we stayed very busy!

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 06, 2018:

I'm happy you also enjoyed Montjuic. We were there often when we stayed for over 2 months in Barcelona.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 06, 2018:

Thanks Bill. Not much compared to the help you give many of us.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 06, 2018:

We often went to this place when we were in Barcelona and there was always something new to look at.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 06, 2018:

Thank you Eman.

Matt Doran from Manchester, UK on June 05, 2018:

Great article, Mary. I only visited Montjuic for the first time in April. I was blown away by the grandeur and the scale of the buildings and streets. A great area of Barcelona for sure!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 05, 2018:

The clash of architectural styles is glaring, but somehow it works in that beautiful city. Thanks again for letting me stow away on your journey.

Simon Lam on June 05, 2018:

This was very interesting Mary. I love all of your photos! The art museum and the botanical garden sound amazing!

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on June 05, 2018:

A very beautiful place.