Montjuïc: culture, sport and architecture in Barcelona’s green lung
Article updated 10 April, 2018.
Montjuïc hill is one of the nicest spaces in Barcelona. Between nature, sport, art and architecture just choose your favourite from one of its many faces.
Need some fresh air? No need to leave Barcelona: simply head to Montjuïc to completely disconnect from the chaos of the city centre.
- The name of this hill comes either from the medieval Catalan “Jewish hill” or the Latin “Mont Jovicus” meaning Mount Jupiter.
A little history…
Montjuïc has always been a strategically important place in Barcelona. It’s from here that the city was defended from its enemies, where the civil rebellions were watched, where the political prisoners were imprisoned during Franco’s dictatorship, and where the 1928 World Expo was held.
In 1992, Montjuïc hill became a sports venue, hosting many of the Barcelona Olympic games.
Today, Montjuïc continues to offer fun and unusual activities.
Montjuïc, a centre for art and culture
Montjuïc is home to a number of cultural centres
- The Miró foundation offers an exciting insight into the Catalan painter-sculptor.
- The Catalan National Museum of Art (MNAC) assembles Catalan artists’ works since the 12th century.
- CaixaForum is a cultural centre known for its temporary exhibitions, generally focused on art.
Montjuïc, a hot bed of architecture
We often associate Montjuïc with its parks and gardens, but its foliage hides some real architectural gems.
- The old Casaramona textiles factory: a superb art nouveau building that is today home to the CaixaForum which we strongly recommend you visit!
- The Montjuïc National Palace: another strikingly beautiful building housing an exciting museum (MNAC) which is really worth a look!
- The Mies van der Rohe Pavilion: built for the 1929 World Expo, the Mies van der Rohe pavilion was deconstructed at the end of the festivities but reproduced identically in the 80s by a group of Catalan architects.
- Poble Espanyol: a unique architectural project aimed at producing a perfect Spanish village by reproducing the prettiest and most charming buildings and squares from each autonomous community of the country. Check out our article on Poble Espanyol.
- Palau Sant Jordi: built for the Olympic games in 1992, Palau Sant Jordi is a wonder of architecture and engineering, and due to its incredible acoustics it is today used as a concert hall.
- The Montjuïc castle: this military fortress built between 1640 and 1779 towers over the city. Transformed into a military prison during the Spanish civil war, the castle was the sad setting for many trials and executions.
- The Montjuïc telecommunications tower: you will no doubt notice from far away that its design is audacious and innovative. This construction breathed fresh air into the design of telecommunications towers.
- Interested in architecture? Check out our article on contemporary architecture .
Montjuïc, a sports paradise
Montjuïc is a sports paradise for a number of reasons:
- The Olympic village: built to house some of the events of the 1992 Olympics, it is made up of the Olympic ring, the Lluís Companys stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi and the telecommunications tower.
- The Olympic Swimming Pool: this is where the diving took place in the 1992 Olympic games. This open air swimming pool enjoys an exceptional setting, as it offers a breathtaking view of the whole city. Find more info in our article on Barcelona’s swimming pools.
- Olympic and sports museum: for everything you need to know about sports and its role in social integration.
- Green spaces perfect for jogging: Finally, Montjuïc is the perfect place for a walk or run! The green spaces provided by the hill make running particularly pleasant. Although be warned it can be steep in places!
Montjuïc, for taking it easy
- Parks and gardens: Montjuïc is Barcelona’s green lung, and there are plenty of parks and gardens, each more beautiful than the last!
- Views and panoramas: The views from Montjuïc are magnificent: on one side you have the city and on the other the sea or the industrial port. It’s hard to know which direction to look in!
- Lively picnics: Like all green spaces, Montjuïc is particularly well suited to picnics. In Summer, the Brunch in the Park festival is in full swing, and attracts party-lovers and families alike. The concept is simply a giant picnic in a huge park with DJs, dance floors, and activities for children. Fun times guaranteed!
- An open air cinema festival: every year in July, the Sala Montjuïc takes place: an open air cinema festival in the gardens of the Montjuïc castle, showcasing cult films from all eras.
- A high-perched restaurant: peckish? What would you say to a tasty meal in a superb high-flung setting? If you’re tempted, head to the Martinez restaurant.
- An outdoor bar: amid the bushy flora you can find la caseta del Migdia, the perfect place to chill out and enjoy a drink.
Getting to Montjuïc
- By funicular from Paral·lel, for the price of a normal transport ticket.
- By cable car: more expensive but picturesque.
- By electric bike: a lovely experience that takes some of the strain out of pedalling uphill.
- By bus: lines 55 and 150.
- By car: you can park in the car park near the castle or along the wide avenues that lead up to it (although be careful to park properly to avoid getting towed!)
Enjoy your walk!
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