Visit Montjuic, Barcelona
It's worth going to Montjuic just for the fabulous views of the city but there is also a lot to explore in this part of town.
Visit Montjuic, Barcelona, Spain
Set off for Placa d'Espanya. From here there is a wonderful stone staircase, the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, interspersed with fountains which leads all the way up to Monjuic. On either side are buildings built for the International Exhibition of 1929.
The beautiful Palau National, the National Palace, is immediately above the steps and in front of this is the Font Magica which is an illuminated fountain. In the summer this is part of an amazing sound and light show which takes place Thursday to Sunday evenings, totally free. There are escalators all the way up the Avinguda if you run out of energy for the climb.
From the Palau Nacional there are excellent views of the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina and beyond over the city below.
Before setting off for the top visit the Pavello Mies van der Rohe. This is a replica of the building built for the 1929 exhibition and designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, then director of the Avant-Garde Bauhaus school. The building is beautifully simple with lots of straight lines, water and polished green onyx. Stunning.
At the top of the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina is the Palau Nacional, again built for the 1929 International Exhibition and now home to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. In here is a magnificent collection of 12th Century frescoes taken from the walls of Catalan churches in order to preserve them.
For the gardeners amongst you there is a lovely Botanic Garden round the corner from the Palau. A good place to stop and relax for a while.
From here walk round to the Olympic Stadium. The stadium was originally built for the 1936 Alternative Olympics which were cancelled because of the Spanish Civil War. The neo-classical facade remains but the rest was completely overhauled for the 1992 Olympics.
For many people the highlight in this area is the Fundacio Joan Miro. The building was designed by Josep Lluis Sert, a friend of Joan Miro and provides a very simple area full of natural light in which to admire the extremely good collection of Miro's paintings, sculptures and lithographs, many of which were donated by Miro himself.
Parc Guell and Sights a little further from the centre of Barcelona
One of Barcelona's key sights is Parc Guell, one of my favourite works of Gaudi as I love his mosaics and love gardens and so a mix of the two is fabulous. Parc Guell has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The park was opened to the public in 1922. The entrance is famous for the giant mosaic lizard which rises up the steps to enter the park. Inside the park there is a large circular seating area where all the seating is covered in Gaudi's mosaics. There is a large hall of columns and another large open area full of palms and columns and with a very Rudyard Kipling feel. At the entrance to the park is a 'gingerbread' house, where Gaudi lived from 1906 until 1926. This is now the Cas Museu Gaudi and has a collection of some of the furniture Gaudi designed.
The Monestir de Pedralbes was founded in 1326 for nuns of the Order of St Clare, the nuns moved to an adjoining building in 1983 but the old monastery has been preserved very well and it is easy to imagine the life led by the nuns here. As well as the monastery and its lovely cloister there is a very impressive private art collection.
Football fans can visit the Barcelona football club stadium, Europe's largest. A tour of the football stadium is a hugely popular tour for visitors to Barcelona and gives you a real insight into the club, its players and all the behind the scenes activity. Apparently the Barcelona football club's museum is the most visited museum in the city pushing the museum of Picasso into second place! It is reputed to be the best football museum in the world.
The Barceloneta district of Barcelona was developed during the Barcelona Olympics to provide accommodation for the atheletes.
Apartments in the Barceloneta area are much cheaper than those in the old quarter and Eixample but in fact this area is very well served by public transport to Barcelona centre and has plenty of bars and restaurants of its own. Added to this there are beaches in this area and so for summer holidays it is well worth considering. Indeed I understand Barcelona becomes quite smelly and very overcrowded in peak summertime and so Barceloneta could be a very good alternative.
Tourist Buses in Barcelona
The sights in Barcelona are reasonably spread out and if you have limited time then the tourist bus is a good option. These are quite pricey but are a very good way of seeing a lot of Barcelona in a short space of time. The buses are open top and so if you don't want to get off for a closer look you can get unobstructed views from the top deck of the bus.
The buses follow a set route and you get on and off as often as you want during the day.
More Places to Visit in Barcelona
see: Barcelona old town / Barri Gotic to discover Barcelona's medieval old town.
see: Eixample to discover the superb Art Deco (Modernista) buildings of Barcelona.
The beautiful Monestir de Montserrat is an easy excursion from Barcelona.