Things to do in Barcelona – Visit Parc de la Ciutadella

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Barcelona has a lot going on and there’s so much to see, but if you’re looking for a change from the busy city take a stroll through Parc de la Ciutadella. At just over 70 acres, this spacious oasis on the edge of Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella (Old Town), offers a quiet place to relax and enjoy a lazy afternoon hanging out with the locals.

The park was created on the grounds where the city’s 18th-century military citadel once stood, hence the name, which means ‘Citadel Park’, and was designed by architect Josep Fontseré for the 1888 Universal Exhibition. 

Arc de Triomf Parc de la Ciutadella Barcelona Spain

If you start your walk from the far end of Passeig de Lluís Companys, you’ll see that Paris isn’t the only city with an Arc de Triomphe. Barcelona’s arch – the Arc de Triomf – is much smaller and younger than its more famous French namesake. This classically designed arch, made of red brick, was built at the entrance to the exhibition grounds.

Ministry of Justice and Passeig de Lluís Companys Barcelona

From here, follow the promenade past the Ministry of Justice and into the park,

Castell dels Tres Dragons Barcelona Spain

where you’ll see the Castell dels Tres Dragons (Castle of the Three Dragons). Built as a restaurant for the Exhibition, this Modernista ‘castle’ serves now as the Nature Laboratory, part of the Natural History Museum of Barcelona. 

Other buildings within Parc de la Ciutadella include the grand neoclassical Martorell Museum (also part of the Natural History Museum complex),

Hivernacle Parc de la Ciutadella Barcelona Spain

the 19th-century Hivernacle, or greenhouse of iron and glass, and the Umbracle, a ‘shade house’ filled with lush plants and trees.

Sculpture Parc de la Ciutadella Barcelona Spain

As you wander though the park you’ll come across sculptures and fun artwork,

Barcelona Map Parc de la Ciutadella Spain

like the giant map of Barcelona painted near the Arc de Triomf,

Metal Lizard Sculpture Parc de la Ciutadella Barcelona

the metal lizards in front of the Castle of the Three Dragons, and the stone mammoth on the far side of the park near the Barcelona Zoo.

Boat on the Lake Parc de la Ciutadella Barcelona

Venture down the pathways winding deeper into the park where you’ll find a tranquil lake, with boats available for rent if you’d care to row out and drift on the water.

La Cascada Parc de la Ciutadella Barcelona Spain

And, nearby, you’ll see la Cascada Monumental, the spectacular cascading waterfall and fountains adorned with magnificent statues.

La Quadriga de l'Aurora La Cascada Barcelona Spain

Of note are the glittering gold of Aurora and her chariot (La Quadriga de l’Aurora), and just above the waterfall, Venus rises from a shell (Naixement de Venus). It’s said that a young Antoni Gaudí assisted with the design of some of the ornamental features of the waterfall.

La Cascada Fountains Parc de la Ciutadella Barcelona Spain

Climb the stairs to the pavilion for a look out over this beautiful and dramatic site.

Getting There:

Parc de la Ciutadella is located east of Barcelona’s Old Town on the edge of the La Ribera neighborhood. 

Ticket Info:

General access to Parc de la Ciutadella = FREE

 

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