The Parc de la Ciutadella stands where there was once a large military citadel in 1715 that was designed to prevent the Catalans from rebelling as they had in the previous century. In 1869, General Prim handed over the fortress on the condition that it be used as a public park. As Barcelona was rapidly developing industrially, so was the population, calling for some much needed fresh air. As the designer of the park, Joseph Fencer, stated so well “Gardens in cities serve the same purpose as lungs in the human body”. What will you see in the park? If you’ve visited once, then surely you will have seen at least a few of the things on our list.
1. Vendors, lots of them
You can’t walk into the park without trying to be sold something at least once. From guys with a big colourful cloud of helium balloons and “cerveza, beer, amigo,” to blankets and selfie sticks, the vendors might be one of the only downsides – or maybe upsides – depending on what your intentions are.
2. Sports and other activities
Slackliners, jugglers, even bartenders practicing their flair, you will find any and every activity imaginable in Ciutadella park. You’ll see the serious groups of Bootcamp warriors, the acro yogis, the runners, the martial artists, ping pong enthusiasts taking advantage of the free tables. It’s a great place to set up with a book, people watch, or even for meditating in a quieter area. If you’re feeling extra motivated, you could bring your Spanish notes and homework with you!
Besides the usual animal culprits you would see in a park or around the city – ducks, pigeons, those beautiful green parrots – there have been as many as 100 different birds listed as having been spotted. You’ll also see that this is one of the biggest and best places to bring your dog for a saunter. If you’re lucky, you may even see someone who’s brought their cat to the park! Ciutadella Park is also home to Barcelona’s zoo, which takes up half of the grounds. Here you’ll be able to catch glimpses of elephants, giraffes, sea lions, peacocks and more!
To someone who is not paying much attention, the number and variety of plants in the park may go unnoticed. The town hall website states that there are over 100 species of plants and a number of century-old trees.
5. Important buildings and statues
The iconic Monumental Waterfall is the park’s shining star with its beautiful cascading steps and golden chariot statue is one of the most beautiful sights to see in Barcelona. Aside from the fountain, there are other famous sculptures such as the mammoth, added in 1907, and the Woman with the Umbrella. The park is also home to the Three Dragon’s Castle, a greenhouse, the Governor’s Palace and the Catalan Government building.
6. Musicians and music
From the solo guitarists who bring their instruments to entertain their small group of friends to the larger bands, each day you walk through the park, you can expect to hear something different. Steel drums, reggae, music from portable speakers, all add to the park’s relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. The city occasionally hosts some concerts as well, a list can be found on the town hall website.
7. A romantic pond
The park’s pond is half-surrounded by trees, is home to ducks and is a beautiful place to rent a rowboat for a while.
8. Birthday parties
You’re not the only one who’s entered the park excited to find a big group celebrating a friend’s birthday, only to be confused by the number of other parties happening simultaneously. Right in the centre, easily accessible, plenty of both sunny and shady areas, it’s the perfect spot to celebrate!
9. Happy People
It’s practically impossible to enter the park without cracking even the smallest smile immediately. The relaxed feeling with groups of friends or families enjoying the beautiful park is infectious. There is a sense of camaraderie among everyone as people from all walks of life are harmoniously taking pleasure in Barcelona’s sunshine and excellent weather. What’s not to love?
What is your favourite thing about Barcelona’s most famous green space?