On the second day of our Barcelona trip, we wanted to visit Montjuic, which is translated as “Jew Mountain” in medieval Catalan. I hadn’t done so during my first trip to Barcelona, Spain so this part of town was new for me as well. We could’ve taken the metro directly from near our hostel to Montjuic, but instead we decided to walk and pass by Parc Joan Miró, the Arenas de Barcelona and the Plaça d’Espanya.
Climing Montjuic is worth it for the view, obviously, but even more so for the sights that mostly date back to two important events: the International Exposition of 1929 and the Summer Olympics of 1992.
Climbing Montjuic, up to the past
The 1929 International Exposition
As for all world fairs, a lot of national pavilions were built for the International Exposition of 1929. Most of them were also demolished again afterwards, except for the Palau Nacional which had served as the central pavilion. It now houses the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC).
In front of the MNAC you find the Font Mágica or Magical Fountain. We saw the fountain during the day but on selected summer nights there’s a big fountain light show which, so I’ve read, should be worth seeing.
From the Palau Nacional, you also have a great view on the big staircase going down towards the Plaça d’Espanya (also built for the 1929 Exhibition), but let’s stay on Montjuic just a little longer. We haven’t finished our tour quite yet.
Unlike the Palau Nacional, the German pavilion, designed by Mies van der Rohe, didn’t survive the demolishings, but it was rebuilt in the 1980s because it was seen as one of Van der Rohe’s greatest accomplishments.
Buildings that were maintained are the Estadi Olímpic and the Poble Espanyol, a ‘Spanish Village’ consisting of buildings in different Spanish architecture styles.
The 1992 summer Olympics
Montjuic served as part of the scene for the 1992 Summer Olympics, officially known as the ‘Games of the XXV Olympiad’. This lead to the construction of the ‘Anella Olímpica’ or Olympic Ring consisting of various sporting venues, such as the Palau Sant Jordi, the Institut Nacional d’Educació Física de Catalunya, the Olympic swimming pools and the prominently present telecommunications tower, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The Estadi Olímpic, completely renewed and renamed the ‘Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys’ formed the center of the ring. It was there that the opening and closing ceremonies of the games were held.
Nice to know: the Olympic swimming pools on Montjuic were used in Kylie Minogue’s video clip for “Slow”
In 2007, the Olympic Sports Museum was opened. It was named after the former president of the International Olympic Committee Joan Antoni Samaranch, who had played an important role in organizing the Games in Barcelona.
Other things to do on Montjuïc
I’m sure you’ll have filled a couple of hours already when you’ve visited all of the above, but for the never tired, there are still some other sights at Montjuic:
- the modern art museum Fundació Joan Miró
- the Montjuic Cemetery, named “Cementiri del Sud-Oest”
- the museum of ethnology
- the Catalan museum of archeology (housed in which was the palace of graphic arts during the 1929 International Exhibition)
- the Castell de Montjuïc, an 18th century fortress. To get there you have to take a funicular from the Parallel metro stop, something we unfortunately didn’t do.
What we did visit, though, was one of the botanical gardens. The Jardí Botànic, part of the Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona, is divided into various sections, each dedicated to different parts of the world. There’s Australia, the Canary Islands, South Africa, the North of Africa, Chili, California, The East Mediterranean and the West Mediterranean.
Getting to Montjuic
Of course, I recommend climbing Montjuic, which you can do from the Plaça d’Espanya, but you can also
- take the metro to Parallel and then the funicular (included in the ticket) up to Montjuic
- take the cable cars connecting La Barceloneta to Montjuic – Click here for tickets.
Where to stay in Barcelona?
If you’re looking for an apartment rather than a hotel, I would recommend checking airbnb. Sign up through my link and get a discount on your first stay!
How to get to Barcelona
We flew from Brussels directly to Barcelona. If you’re traveling within Europe and are nearby, you can also consider taking the train.
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