SEP 25,2016 - SEP 25,2016 (1 DAYS)
Main Attraction: Montjuic Castle, CaixaForum, Las Arenas, Parc de Joan Miró, , Font Màgica.
Duration: 1/2 day.
Public Transport: Take Metro lines 2 (Purple Line) and 3 (Green Line) to Parallel. From there, pick up the Funicular train to Castell de Montjuic. The Funicular is a smaller train running every 10 mins or so from Parallel to Montjuic and back. The ride itself only takes 2 minutes and the journey is included as part of a Metro ride. Remember: you do not need a special ticket for the Funicular. You can use a regular metro card. Another way is by Cable Car (the fun one!). Right next to the funicular Station, lies the Montjuic’s Cable Car. This ride takes you directly to the castle of Montjuic with photogenic views of Barcelona. Changing to the cable car - you do not have to exit the metro station - it connects directly to the cable car. This will leave you quite near the highest point too. The funicular of Barcelona (FM metro line) operates like a metro with two stops: Paral·lel, which links up with metro lines L2 and L3, and Parc de Montjuïc, located on the mountain, which links up with the cable car to reach the top of Montjuïc and access the castle. The funicular is part of the integrated fare system and the ticket is the same price as a trip by metro or bus. Montjuïc funicular operating hours: Autumn-Winter: MON - FRI: 7.30 - 20.00, SAT, SUN and public holidays: 9.00 - 20.00. Spring-Summer: MON - FRI: 7.30 - 22.00, SAT, SUN and public holidays: 9.00 - 22.00.
Option number three, is taking regular bus #150 (we took it from) which also stops at the castle. Buy your ticket to Montjuic’s cable car stop. During holidays, weekends and the busy summer months - expect long queues for the bus:
Fourth option: Barcelona’s Port Cable Car located in Barceloneta (Transbordador Aeri del Port). The journey lasts around ten minutes and it’s the fastest way to get to the mountain from Barceloneta Beach. The view of the seaport and Barceloneta from 70 meters high is priceless (see Tipter blog "Barcelona - Port Vell").
Views to Barcelona City:
Option number 5: you can take the Metro or bus to Plaça Espanya, walk Av. Maria Cristina and climb the stairs or take the automatic stairs to the MNAC museum, and keep walking up. It will be quite a long walk, but scenic and not difficult. It takes about 40 minutes from the Metro stop at Plaça Espanya to walk up to the castle. Option number 6: you can also get to Avenida Miramar (on the Montjuic) by #50 bus which runs along Gran Via to Plaça Espanya. It passes Caixaforum, Poble Espanyol, Olympic Stadium and Miró Foundation on the way. Option number 7: there is a Hop on Hop off bus (22€-24€) that link all places of interest in the mountain, it may be a good option.
The Montjuic Castle itself is very beautiful and the views are incredible. From outside the castle is very beautiful. Especially about its shape, very well kept outdoor gardens and the entrance bridge. The garden around the castle is gorgeous. We would say it’s worth a visit if you’re in Barcelona for a week or so. You have a 360 degree view of the city of Barcelona and over the Mediterranean. There are some superb views from here to the Port Olympic and the city’s southern docks:
View of the Port Vell from the Montjuic Castle:
Views to the commercial port:
All that is worth the entrance ticket. Up until March 2014 this pleasant piece of Barcelona was free to visit to anyone who wanted, unfortunately that soon changed and visitors can now be expected to pay a fee to set foot within the fort. So, is it actually worth it now that the price of Montjuic Castle is €5 per person for a standard ticket and €3 per person for a discounted ticket. Free entrance on Sundays. It's likely to have more of a crowd during this time, but is certainly worth doing if you fancy experiencing this 17th century gem and the vistas that it offers. Note: It is definitely worth bringing food with you to eat either at the castle or around the grounds while enjoying the views around. Another note: almost no signage. It's not to say that the attraction is bad, because that's far from the truth, it's merely that the value offered by the city council just isn't there for a tourist who is visiting to learn more about the castle. Once you enter the castle practically nothing about the history of this wonderful complex is explained. The website says there is "general guidance" provided, however it isn't apparent exactly where that is or in what form it comes in. Without the history, the only attraction for tourists are the views... But there are other more impressive and free to access locations in the city to snap landscape photos or share a romantic moment with someone. You could even just walk around the castle without entering for some equally good views and shots of the castle. There is a snack bar service as well as restrooms. Opening hours: 1st October - 31st March: MON - SUN: 10.00 - 18.00, 1st April - 30th September: MON-SUN: 10.00 - 20.00:
History: The castle was originally constructed during the 17th century war between Spain and Catalonia (War of the Reaper). The star-shaped fortress dates back to 1640 has served as a defensive fort, a prison, a military museum (which was inaugurated in 1963 under Francisco Franco) and now a municipal facility. It was destroyed by Bourbon troops in 1714. The Castle was rebuilt between 1751 and 1779 with improved defences that included large moats and impenetrable ramparts. Montjuic castle is one of the oldest constructions on Montjuïc hill. It is mostly from the 18th century and has been used both for the defense of Barcelona, and to keep the Catalans control using the threat of attack from Montjuic during times of oppression of the Catalans. In 1919, during the revolutionary anarchy that invaded Barcelona, over 3000 workers were made prisoners here. Also, during Spanish civil war, 173 people were executed in the Castle, mainly Catalan politicians. Today the castle holds limited appeal for many of the city’s citizens as it is seen as a symbol of Spanish repression (Catalan leader Lluis Companys was executed here by General Franco’s Nationalists in 1940). The castle was a military prison until 1960, and was inaugurated by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in June 1963 as a military museum, which it remained until 2009 for more than 30 years after the Spanish transition to democracy. It was only in 2008-9 after the castle was returned to the city of Barcelona, that a rare (for post-regimen Barcelona) statue of General Franco was finally removed. Now Montjuic fort is only used for cultural events and festivals, like outdoor cinema in the summer, concerts and festivals.
In front of the entry is a nice colorful garden parterre filled in from the original moat. Bright spring annuals to add more visual color and frame some nice photos of the fortress. It’s worth spending a little time here to take a few photos of the fortress or some magnificent views of Barcelona. Once you reach the castle, taking a break on its wide expanse of lush green lawns is a good plan. Just be sure to bring a beverage to slurp and something to snack on:
Post-rest, take a self-guided tour of the Castle gardens and search out famous sculptures like the snowy curves of “La Fertilitat” by Josep Clarà and strangely challenging stance of Pau Gargallo’s “La Pomona”, clutching apples in her skirts. Along the way, pose with cannons and snap shots of Barcelona’s busy port at the Alcalde look-out point and the Explanada de Miramar. At the look-out point, the floor, an elaborate mosaic of ceramic and glass, warrants a few moments of your undivided attention.
After a nice stroll about the grounds, cross the drawbridge and follow stone steps to the wide expanse of the castle’s roof-top terraces for sweeping views of Barcelona and beyond.
BTW, Montjuic has many lovely green parks and gardens including the Barcelona botanical gardens.
Montjuïc Castle hosts many temporary exhibitions throughout the year as well as those that are permanent, including installations on the development of the castle and the story of Montjuïc Hill at the Montjuïc Interpretation Centre. The castle is also the venue for the highly popular Sala Montjuïc with its open-air film festival during summer. The festival screens popular movies as well as the classics and makes for a wonderful summer night under the open sky. The Montjuïc Castle was the stage for a big circus fiesta, during La Mercè 2016. During several performances of "Circus at the Montjuïc Castle" - thousands of spectators, everyday, could discover the high level of contemporary Barcelona circus, as well as the extraordinary skills of the circus artists from Paris, the guest city of La Mercè in year 2016. In total, between Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th, there were some 20 shows, on stage 1 Fossat de Santa Eulàlia, all presented by the clow Morc Fant (Marcs Font): acrobats, clowns, air dancers and daring jugglers were out to surprise all who made the journey up to the Castle:
The Montjuic hill is a very green area, and several gardens are present there. The most famous is the Botanical Garden with more than 2000 plants speciesbut, there are other great gardens in Montjuic Hill (all north-east to Montjuic castle) :
o Hortes de Sant Bertran y escaleras de Forestier
o Jardines de Mossèn Costa i Llobera
o Jardines de Miramar y camino dels Cims
o Jardines de Joan Brossa
o Jardines de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer
The only hotel on Montjuic hill is the luxury 5 star Miramar hotel, pretty close to Jardines de Joan Bross. The Miramar hotel occupies an old mansion which was previously used in the early days of Spanish television. This historic building was renovated a few years ago and hotel guests at the Miramar can now enjoy stunning scenery and views. From the Miramar hotel you are just a few steps from the thrilling Transbordador Aeri del Port cable car, which takes you across the Port Vell marina of Barcelona to the first of the Barcelona beaches. This exciting transportation facility is described at our "Barcelona Port Vell" blog.
But, we head down to the north to our next destination - the CaixaForum, near Plaça Espanya. Taking bus #150 would be the easist and fastest way to arrive to the famous square. From Montjuïc Castle walk about 3 min , 160 m to the Castell bus stop. Take Bus 150 to Pl. Espanya and drop off after 11 stops at Pl. de Carles Buïgas. Walk about 170 m. to arrive to CaixaForum Barcelona: Head southwest on Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia toward Carrer de Montfar. Turn right onto Carrer de Montfar. Continue onto Carrer dels Morabos. Turn left onto Carrer del Nord and the CaixaForum, Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8 will be will be on the left. If you want to get away from the hectic crowd for an hour or so this is the place. A unique gallery offering a wide range of exhibitions of ancient, modern and contemporary art. Near Plaça Espanya is Mies van der Rohe Pavillion / CaixaForum, an exhibition space in a Modernista, renovated textile factory building. The renovated building makes a good impression. The museum is good for taking pictures, as the outside is very nice white marble. The rooftop terrace (viewed for FREE) is a very nice example of Catalan Modernista architecture. Excellent exhibitions on very wide range of subjects; 4€ entry and open daily: 10.00 - 20.00. Mies van Rohe established in 1929 the Barcelona Pavillion (which held the German Exhibition), as part of the International Exhibition held in the city in such date. It can be understood as a futuristic Art Deco building, as it is still nowadays considered a pioneer in design (although it’s 83 years old!). The Mies van der Rohe design museum is inside. CosmoCaixa is a restored modernist building that is nowadays Barcelona’s largest free admission museum. It is worth a visit even if it is 4€ admission fee. With this descent fee you can,sometimes, hit sensational temporary exhibitions (photography, Salvador Dali portraits etc'). Check their web site (their website is not available in English): https://caixaforum.es/barcelona/home. There are always at least 4-5 exhibitions going at any one time .They have a restaurant inside (exceptional Menu de Dia) and a gift shop in the lobby area. Together with an evening visit to the Font Magica, this can round out a fun weekend night in Barcelona.
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373 - 385
From CaixaForum we head to the Las Arenas more southward. From CaixaForum, Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8, we walk southeast. Turn left toward Carrer de Mèxic, 35 m. Turn right toward Carrer de Mèxic, 20 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Mèxic, 25 m. Turn left onto Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 100 m. Turn left onto Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, 350 m. At Plaça Espanya, take the 5th exit, 150 m. Turn left, 20 m. Walk for 50 m. Take the elevator down to -1 or to the rooftop (FREE) of Las Arenas, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373 - 385.
Las Arenas de Barcelona is a commercial shopping complex located in Plaça d'Espanya. The structure was first used as a bullfighting arena but was reconstructed and designed into a commercial centre in March 2011 by Richard Rogers. Arenas de Barcelona is now a shopping, sports and music centre with a 360 rooftop view of the city. Take the lift (1 euro, hang on to your receipt, you'll need it to go back down) to the top of Las Arenas de Barcelona and you have a wonderful bird's eye view of Barcelona. The top floor also has several (posh) restaurants that go all the way around the building. A floor down from the restaurants you have the Arenas cinemas, however all the films are in Spanish only. The rest of the floors in Arenas are dedicated to shops and eateries.
Las Arenas at Night:
From the Las Arenas rooftop - we can see, perfectly, the the Parc de Joan Miró. This large park is also known as the Parc l'Escorxador (it stands on the site of the old municipal slaughterhouse: escorxador in Catalan) and is situated south-west of Barcelona's Eixample quarter or neighbourhood. This great urban, green "lung", is your best bet before or after you explore the monumental Plaça Espanya. Starting at 1979, a group of young architects, headed by Beth Galí, designed a park, in place of the demolished slaughterhouse, that occupied four blocks of the Eixample, which Ildefons Cerdà – the architect behind the Eixample district – had originally envisaged for this part of Barcelona. The park, known locally as the Parc de l'Escorxador, emerged, at last, as a jigsaw puzzle of different elements set out around a cement plaza designed to host all kinds of events and activities. Around the plaza, there are platforms on different levels, pathways, pergolas and landscaped areas with palms, pines and evergreen oaks, which are the ideal place to take a stroll in hot days. An artificial water channel runs parallel to Carrer Tarragona, lending coolness to this side of the Parc de Joan Miró. This is the site of Joan Miró's 22-metre-high monumental sculpture Dona i Ocell (Woman and Bird). Like the park, it was dedicated in 1983, shortly before the artist's death. There is a public library on the other side of the park, which is named after Joan Miró. To walk from Las Arenas to Parc Joan Miro - it is 280 m.walk. From Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373 - 385 take the elevator up to 0. Head northwest toward Carrer de la Diputació, 20 m. Turn right onto Carrer de la Diputació, 50 m. Turn left, take the stairs and the Parque de Joan Miró, Carrer d'Aragó, 2, is on your right 130 m. further. The park might be under reconstruction during end-2017 and 2018...:
We shall return to Plaça d'Espanya - taking, a bit, longer way. From Parque de Joan Miró, Carrer d'Aragó, 2 we head southeast toward Carrer de la Diputació. Take the stairs, 130 m. Turn left onto Carrer de la Diputació, 25 m. Turn right onto Carrer de Llança, 140 m. Turn right toward Plaça Espanya, 150 m. Plaça Espanya is a famous and lovely plaza in the south side of Barcelona centre. It is, formally, in the Sants-Montjuïc district. Many main roads of Barcelona intersect in this square like: Gran Via, Carrer de la Creu Coberta, Carrer de Tarragona and Paral.lel. It is also home to Barcelona's old bull-fighting ring which has been converted into the Las Arenas commercial centre. South to the square stands the Palau Nacional Art de Catalunya, (MNAC), which is the Museum of Catalan art, regally up on the side of Montjuïc. The fountain at the centre of the square was designed by Josep Maria Jujol, a collaborator of Antoni Gaudí, while Miquel Blay designed the statues. The buildings were designed by Nicolau Maria Rubió i Tudurí. The Venetian Towers (which are similar to the famous tower of S. Marco square in Venice) are 47 m tall and lead the way to the MNAC via Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, an avenue commonly used to host trade fairs. Amazing architecture with beautiful surroundings. It's stunning, especially, during dark hours, when it is lit up with the Magic Fountain (Font Majic) in front. Also, departure and arrival point for the Aerobuses.
Plaça d'Espanya with the adjacent Plaza de Toros de las Arenas:
When work on the Great Universal Exhibition of 1929 was well under way, the organizers felt that it needed that “something” special to make it a cut above the rest. That was when Carles Buigas submitted his project of the Magic Fountain for a “colossal, daring and costly piece of work”. Font Màgica, Barcelona’s largest ornamental water fountain situated at the bottom of the Palau Nacional, near the Plaça d’Espanya and Poble Espanyol. The fountain delivers a spectacular display of colour, light and water acrobatics with musical accompaniment every Thursday to Sunday in the summer months and every Friday and Saturday during winter. The Magic Fountain is a free show that is not to be missed. a fantastic display of water, light and music brings Montjuïc alive at night. Thousands of people go to enjoy the Magic Fountain performances and if you decide to go it will be one of the highlights of your visit to Barcelona. Around 2,600 litres of water, a second flow through the fountain's three concentric pools, driven by a water-recycling system. Music selections include 1980’s mix, cartoon soundtracks, Spanish classical, swing, current hits and more. In all the show lasts about 20 minutes and it’s completely FREE. To get the best view of the Barcelona Magic Fountain show make sure you arrive early. There 30-60 minutes before desired show times to get the best spots. A good way to ensure the best view is taking in the first show. Get there an hour in advance. In general the best place to sit is on the steps leading up to the MNAC museum behind. Another great spot is the pedestrian bridge on the Plaza de España side. If you’re willing to spend a bit of money you could also grab a drink on the 8th floor terrace of Hotel Catalonia Plaza or for a dinner at the Las Arenas rooftop for a view without crowds. Tip: if you’re close up, gauge the wind before the show because if not you might get soaked! There are 8 public toilets in a small building near the fountain. Keep bags in front of you - because the crowds attract pickpockets.
Please note that the Magic Fountain only has performances on certain evenings. Performance times for the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc: Schedule 2017: 06 January - 16 February Closed, 01 January - 31 March Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20.00 - 21.00, 01 April - 31 May Thursday, Friday and Saturday 21.00 - 22.00, 01 June - 30 August Wednesday - Sunday 21.30 - 22.30, 01 September - 31 October Thursday, Friday and Saturday 21.00 - 22.00, 01 November - 31 December Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20.00 - 21.00.
Gustos Barcelona Las Arenas - floor -1:
We paid 21 euros for double lunch: goat cheese with generous salad and several tapas, including soft drinks (or natural juices). Not expensive. Delicious. Splendid, intimate and comfortable surroundings. Good service - even if the restaurant was full up.