Parc de la Ciutadella
Attractions | 14.02.2020
Citadel Park (Parc de la Ciutadella) is one of the oldest and most picturesque green areas of Barcelona near the Old Town.
About Parc de la Ciutadella
The history of the park began in the 18th century, when, by order of King Philip V of Bourbon, a powerful fortress was erected – one of the largest in Europe for that time: 8,000 people could take refuge there. To make way for fortification, 38 streets, more than a thousand houses of civilians, churches and monasteries were destroyed. The cannons of the citadel were sent to residential buildings in poor areas of Barcelona.
The citadel stood for about 150 years and was demolished so as not to remind the townspeople of the sad chapters of history. In its place, a park complex with alleys, waterfalls and monuments was arranged. In 1888, the first World Exhibition was held in the territory of the Citadel Park, in memory of which there remained structures.
The park is always full of locals and tourists, people come here to relax and do yoga on the lawns, walk with children, listen to street musicians and watch the tightrope walkers – they pull the ropes right between the trees. The park often becomes the venue for city events and festivals.
The central part of the Citadel is an artificial lake and three alleys: Elm, Linden and Poplar. You can ride a boat on the lake, watch turtles basking in the rocks and fish splashing at the surface of the water.
Opposite the ponds, closer to Passeig de les Pujades Avenue, is the (Cascada del Parque de la Ciudadela, a grand fountain with French-style waterfalls. It was created in 1875-1888 by José Fontsere with the help of the young Antonio Gaudi. The fountain was first presented to the public in 1881, then it was modified during 6 years.
The central sculptural group of the fountain is "The Birth of Venus": Venus rises from a marble sink surrounded by mollusks. The top of the structure is crowned by a brilliant chariot drawn by four horses of the goddess of the dawn Aurora. Aurora holds a torch in his right hand – a symbol of light that illuminates the world every morning. Four more local residents – stone griffins – froze right in the bowl of the fountain. Climb to the upper platform of the fountain – there is a beautiful park view. There is also an entrance to an artificial grotto and an aquarium, but the access for general public is closed there. The fountain looks especially impressive in night illumination or during events when light installations are projected onto it.
The park is comfortable for walking with children: wide alleys, lawns, a playground where in the warm season you can splash around in large basins with water, and in the brushwood near the Cascade there is a 3.5 m high stone mammoth hiding. After the end of the World Exhibition, it was supposed to arrange an exhibition of extinct prehistoric animals, but the idea was not developed.
The Castle of Three Dragons (Castell dels Tres Dragons) is another attraction of Barcelona, erected for the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition. It was built as a cafe-restaurant and had to be demolished, but then the decision was reconsidered. The castle project belongs to the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the founder of modernism in Catalonia (he is also the author of the Palau de la Música Catalana). Now in this fabulous red brick palace with towers and battlements the Nature Laboratory (Laboratori de Natura) is located. Its exposition includes a collection of rare minerals, stuffed animals, skeletons of birds and animals. As of February 2020, the visit to the center was temporarily suspended for the general public due to reconstruction.
An elegant design made of cast iron and glass rises next to the Three Dragons Castle – this is the L'Hivernacle winter garden, in summer there is a cafe and jazz concerts here. The pavilion was also erected for the Barcelona Universal Exposition. Nearby there is another gallery – Umbracle ("Palm"). It is a greenhouse with tropical plants.
The most visited part of the park is the ZOO Barcelona. A ticket costs 21.4 euros for an adult and 12.95 euros for a child 3-12 years old (a discount is provided for purchases through the website). The zoo contains about 2,000 animals, birds and more than 300 species of reptiles. Here they refused to keep animals in cages – habitats are fenced with small fences and ditches with water.
The most visited part of the park is the ZOO Barcelona. A ticket costs 21.4 euros for an adult and 12.95 euros for a child 3-12 years old (a discount is provided for purchases through the website). The zoo contains about 2,000 animals, birds and more than 300 species of reptiles. Here they refused to keep animals in cages – habitats are fenced with small fences and ditches with water.
The park is open every day from 10:00 a.m. until sunset (depending on the time of year), visiting is free. You can enter from the main entrance – from the side of the Passeig de les Pujades and the Triumphal arch.
The most convenient way to get to the Citadel Park is by metro, the nearest station is Triumphal arch. Or take a walk from the center: a walk from the Cathedral takes only 10 minutes to the picturesque Born quarter.
Do you know?
  • Here, in the park, in one of the oldest buildings in Barcelona, erected in 1720, in the former military arsenal, sits the Parliament of Catalonia (Parlament de Catalunya). Excursions there are held in Catalan on the first Friday of the month. Two more days when you can get inside are September 11 (Catalan national holiday) and September 12.
  • "Despair" – this is the name of the sculpture by Jose Limon, installed in a pond on the parade ground in front of the parliament. The figure of a girl made of white stone reclines on her knees, hiding her face. This is a copy, the original of white marble is in the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya – MNAC).
  • The Cascade Fountain is decorated with many sculptures – Venus, Danae, Leda, Neptune, little putti angels. All of them are made by various sculptors. At the entrance to the aquarium, you'll find two medallions with embossed lizards: they were designed by Gaudi. Later, such figures will decorate the facade of the Temple of the Holy Family. Look at the four griffins in the fountain bowl: they differ from each other. Hint: pay attention to their wings and the head of one sculpture.
What to see nearby?
The Church of Santa Maria del Mar (Basílica Santa Maria del Mar) is a five minutes' walk from the park. As part of the Rooftops tour, climb to its roof (10 euros) to enjoy a 360-degree panorama of Barcelona. Tour schedule is available at http://www.santamariadelmarbarcelona.org/
From the central entrance to the park, it is less than ten minutes' walk to the Mercat Santa Caterina Market. There you can stock up on fresh products and have a picnic in the park, as the locals do. Do not forget to look at the colored tiles on the roof: as conceived by architects, it resembles fruits and vegetables.
It is also worth going to the Museum of Chocolate (Museu de la Xocolata) at 36 Carrer del Comerç. It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (on Sundays – until 3:00 p.m.), a visit will cost 6 euros. At the entrance they give tickets-chocolates, and inside there are chocolate sculptures and copies of famous buildings.
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