Montjuïc or “Jew Hill” is a mountain located between Barcelona and the sea, filled with parks, gardens, museums and sports facilities. It is the city’s largest urban green zone, and it was here that the 1929 International Exposition and the 1992 Olympic Games were held. At its peak sits a castle that today belongs to the city, and around it are numerous viewpoints overlooking Barcelona and its port. A one-day visit won’t be enough if you want to see museums and enjoy the beauty of its gardens. We recommend a minimum two-day visit.
The Magic Fountain
No one should leave Montjuïc without seeing the spectacle offered by these fountains at nightfall. Montjuïc’s Magic Fountain, as it’s known, was designed by the engineer Carles Buïgas, son of the creator of the Columbus Monument, for the 1929 International Exposition. It was designed in 1928 and inaugurated, to everyone’s surprise, one year later. It’s located at the end of Maria Cristina Avenue, and at the foot of the Palau Nacional. During the Civil War years (1936-1939) the fountain broke down and did not operate again until 1955. Since then, and to the present day, it has continuously offered its light and water show, to which music was addedinthe80’s.Untilnowthe choreography was performed manually, but in September 2011 a new computer system debuted, allowing new choreographies to be created in 3 minutes using all 3,620 water jets and 4,760 floodlights that together can produce 7,000 different combinations of water and light. Anunforgettable spectacle for all visitors to Barcelona regardless of age.
Address: Maria Cristina.
Metro: L1 and L3 Espanya.
Barcelona Bus Turístic: Plaça Espanya.
Barcelona City Tour: Plaça Espanya.
Show Hours: From October to April, Fridays and Saturdays from 19:00 to 21:00. Show with music and colours 19:00, 19:30, 20:00 and 20:30.
Prices: Free show.
There are several museums on Montjuïc mountain: the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC); the Fundació Joan Miró; the Museu Olímpic i de l’Esport; the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya; the Museu Etnològic, and the Museu del Castell. While each one is of great interest, here we highlight the first one, the MNAC, which houses the best European collection of Romanic art, with frescos from numerous Catalan chuchees.
The MNAC Collections
The MNAC is a must-see museum for anyone who wants to learn about Catalonian art.
Of particular importance is the collection of Romanesque art, which includes impressive murals from different Catalan churches. The Gothic section contains remarkable altarpieces by local masters such as Lluís Dalmau and Bernat Martorell, among others. The Renaissance and Baroque collections offer a more international perspective, with works by artists such as El Greco, Zurbarán, and Rubens, while the sections showcasing modernism, Noucentisme, and the avant-garde allow the visitor to understand Catalan art from the 19th and 20th centurias.
The Olympic Ring
There are several sports facilities that were either built or restored and expanded to welcome the 1992 Olympic Games at Montjuïc’s Olympic Ring: Palau Sant Jordi, Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, the October 2011 Montjuïc diving pool, and the Bernat Picornell pool.
However, the building that stands out most for its beauty and continuous use is perhaps Palau Sant Jordi, inaugurated in 1990 and designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. It was the main covered pavilion for the Olympic Games, and numerous qualifying heats were held in it for the 1992 Olympics. Since that year it has continuously welcomed sporting, musical, theatre, and social events.
Next to the Palau is the Olympic Stadium, which was inaugurated for the 1929 International Exposition. Afterthatit was on the decline until it was renovated for the Olympic Games, saving only its façade. It was re-inaugurated in 1989 and housed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1992 Olympics. In 2001 it was renamed Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys in memory of a Catalan government president. It holds 55,000 people.
A highlight next to these facilities is the famous Communications Tower by Calatrava, known among visitors as the Montjuïc Tower. It’s a large white tower standing 136 metres tall, with an innovative design by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. It was also built for the Olympic Games between 1989 and 1992. Another communications tower, this one by Norman Foster, stands out on the opposite side of the city in the Parc de Collserola.
Montjuïc Mountain has garden areas for all tastes. A good number of the city’s gardens are found here, among them: the Botanical Garden, the Joan Brossa gardens, the Petra Kelly garden, the Mirador, Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer, Mossèn Costa Llobera, and Laribal gardens, etcétera.
We highlight the Botanical Garden for its interest, located on the upper part of the mountain that previously housed an amusement park. It is an authentic Mediterranean garden, and the Barcelona Museum of Natural Sciences offers a guided tour on weekends to discover the principal Mediterranean habitats: the Mediterranean Basin, southern South Africa, central Chile, southern and south-western Australia, and western California. A great trip without leaving Montjuïc. The garden managers maintain that any time of the year is good for a visit, although summer is the driest season.
The Mossèn Costa i Llobera Gardens is considered one of the most important in the succulent plant world. Classifications aside, this garden of arid plants, little given to dalliance, has the capacity to dazzle the visitor with its great quantity and variety of cacti and tropical plants.
The Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer garden is by far one of the most beautiful in Barcelona. The combination of the different flowering periods and seasonal changes of the leaves on the trees grant exceptional colour to this space dedicated to bulb, rhizome and aquatic plants. Each season has its charm and colour. The serenity and landscape design of the space alone are worth a visit.
Poble Espanyol on Montjuïc Mountain houses reproductions of the most emblematic buildings and squares from all over Spain. It was built for the 1929 International Exposition, and it is still there today. Extremely popular with tourists, the space, once accessed through the “Walls of Ávila”, gives the appearance of a city in which buildings from different regions in Spain are occupied by gift shops, museums, bars and restaurants. In the summer, various concerts and festivals are held in the main square. There are also organized tours of Poble Espanyol with a chance to enjoy the spectacle of Montjuïc’s Magic Fountain on the way out. It’s the city’s main outdoor Museum.