Montjuïc Hill, at just over 600 feet high, is a major landmark in Barcelona. Located to the southwest of the city’s old town, in the Poble-sec neighborhood, the hill has been quarried by the Romans and the Christians for its stone, and served in the Middle Ages as a burial site for the Jewish community. Today, the hillside is a popular tourist destination due to the numerous museums and historical sites, including the 18th-century hilltop fortress Montjuic Castle and several buildings remaining from the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition.
Montjuïc Hill is easily reachable by various means of transportation, which includes the Metro (L1, L3, L8: Plaça Espanya), Montjuic Funicular, and Montjuic Cable Car systems.
However you get there, you’ll find plenty of sights and attractions to keep you busy – at least for a day. Among the most notable sites (working your way uphill) are:
Arenas de Barcelona – the former Plaza de toros de las Arenas inaugurated in 1900 was the site for bull fights and other events for over 70 years. Following extensive remodeling – the entire ring was elevated to make a new ground floor – the bullring reopened as the Arenas de Barcelona shopping mall and cinema. A 360° rooftop terrace offers an aerial view of the neighborhood and Plaça Espanya, which features a central fountain of marble, bronze, and wrought iron. Arenas de Barcelona is located at Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes núm. 373-385.
Font Màgica – this ‘Magic Fountain’ at the foot of the stairs leading to the National Palace, was created for the 1929 Expo. On certain nights throughout the year, the water is synchronized to music and lit with a changing palette of color. Located at Plaça de Carles Buïgas, 1.
Caixa Forum – this cultural center, which hosts temporary exhibitions, is housed in a former textile factory built in the early 20th century. A more recent addition, a sunken patio and the Secret Garden (a walled reflecting pool), serves as the main entrance to the building as well as exterior exhibition space. The old factory’s rooftop terrace offers an interesting view of the various wings of the building. Caixa Forum is located at Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8.
Pavilion Mies van der Rohe – designed by German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 International Exhibition, this sleek modern building of steel, stone, and glass was reconstructed on its original site and opened to the public in the 1980s. The pavilion, popular with fans of architecture, features an elegant sculpture, a pond, reflecting pool, and Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair. The Pavilion is located at Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 7, directly across the street from Caixa Forum.
Palau Nacional – built for the 1929 International Exposition, this ‘National Palace’ has served as an art museum since the 1930s and is currently home to the impressive Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunha (MNAC) and boasts a collection of works spanning over 1000 years of art history. Palau Nacional/MNAC is located at Av. dels Montanyans in Parc de Montjuïc.
Museu Etnològic de Barcelona – The Barcelona Museum of Ethnology presents exhibitions on human culture and society, including aspects of local Catalan heritage. Museu Etnològic de Barcelona is located at Passeig de Santa Madrona, 16-22.
Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya – The Catalan Museum of Archaeology, housed in the former Palace of Graphic Arts built for the 1929 International Expo, focuses on the pre-historic era of Catalunya, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Mediterranean region. Exhibits also include antiquities from the Greek and Roman periods. Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya is located at Passeig de Santa Madrona 39-41.
Fundacio Joan Miró – a museum dedicated to works by, and in tribute to, modern artist and Barcelona native Joan Miró. The unique building houses a collection that consists of over 14,000 pieces, some of which are displayed on the rooftop terrace. Fundacio Joan Miró is located in Parc de Montjuïc.
Castell de Montjuïc – this former 17th-century military fortification at the top of the hill hosts several permanent and temporary exhibits and offers a spectacular view of the harbor. Get there with bus #150.
As you wander around the various sites, you’ll no doubt come across several gardens and parks including:
Jardí Botànic Històric – established in 1930 on the site of two former quarries, this Historic Botanic Garden is known for its research and plant conservation. Jardí Botànic Historic is located at Av. dels Montanyans, 26, directly behind the Palau Nacional/MNAC; entrance is via the MNAC parking lot.