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The best of the Ciutadella Park of Barcelona

The Ciutadella Park was the first lung and green area of Barcelona built in 1872 after the complete destruction of the fortress built between 1716 and 1718. Originally, the park was simple without the famous fountain called Cascada (waterfall in english), the castle of 3 dragons… so very few things to see but nowadays, it is a fascinating area to visit which includes the zoo too.

Before to tell you the best things to discover, a little history because it has an interesting past to know. After the war of the spanish succession, the city fell to the army of the king Philip V in 1714, exactly on september 11 and to control Barcelona against any rebellion for instance, he ordered to construct 2 buildings.

One is a castle located at the Montjuic mountain. The design was a project by Juan Martín Cermeño and if you want to know more, read my article Montjuïc castle.

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The other is a fortress considered as the biggest of Europe at this time in the Ribera neighborhood. Designing in the shape of a 5 pointed star by Joris Prosper Van Verboom, it took him 2 years to complete it between 1716 and 1718 and to have enough spaces, it was necessary to destroy 1200 houses, the san agustín and the santa clara convents and altering the course of the irrigation channel calling rec comtal which dates from the roman period. To resume, 4500 people had to live in the poverty and in the street and citizens called it Ciutadella. This design allowed a perfect defense and to house 8000 soldiers too.

In 1841, the Vigilance Committee ordered its destruction but in 1843, the queen Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies asked its restoration. Years later, the general Prim decreed its donation to the city and it was after the spanish revolution of 1868 called Glorious that it would be totally destroyed in 1869. Actually, in the park, only 3 buildings remind citizens this hated symbol of central spanish government which are:

  • The chapel, actually the Castrense parish church
  • The governor palace, actually the IES Verdaguer secondary school
  • The arsenal, actually the headquarter of the Catalonia Parliament

Both buildings were part of a military project to control totally Barcelona, the castle from the top and the fortress from the ground.

In 1872, the mayor asked Josep Fontserè to build a park on the former ground of the Ciutadella by taking example of the Luxembourg Garden of Paris and for the 1888 Universal Exhibtion, it was redesigned by adding sculptures and some art monuments. In 1892, the Ciutadella Park area has been increased for the zoo. In total, it owns 30,42 hectares (17,42 for the park and 13 for the zoo). Actually there is project to extend the zoo in order to incorporate a sea zone for 2015.

Nowadays, the park is a great place not only for entertainment but also to enjoy a nice walk, to do sport, to plan a picnic… So following the best things to discover.

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The castle of the 3 dragons by Lluís Doménech i Montaner. A modernist building made of red bricks and it owns a nice tower, actually it is a public library and a nature laboratory specialized in geology, mineralogy, nature, biodiversity... It was the zoology museum which is now located at the blue museum at the Forum area.

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The monumental waterfall called Cascada by Josep Fontserè. It is a beautiful fountain where Gaudi designed the hydraulic and the artificial cave. Your eyes will be attracted to the Aurora Chariot located on the top by Rossend Nobas. There are also other interesting sculptures like the Venus birth by Venanci Vallmitjana, the Amphitrite by Josep Gamot, Neptune and Leda by Manel Fuxà, Danae by Joan Flotats, the griffins by Rafael Atché…

Near to it, there are the mammoth by Miquel Dalmau where you can seat on its trunk meanwhile your friend will take a picture of you. The lake where you can enjoy a romantic boat ride and the ping pong area, located behind the fountain, where you can play freely a game.

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The zoo. A good place to discover the different species with your kids. To know more, read my topic Zoo of Barcelona and near to it, the former arm courtyard with its beautiful garden and a small pond in its center surrounded by the 3 former buildings of the fortress.

And to end, 3 interesting buildings as the greenhouse, the former geology museum buildiing (actually the exhibition is located at the blue museum at the Forum area) and the Umbracle building where you will discover different tropical vegetation.

Of course, there are a lot of beautiful statues to discover like the goddess by Josep Dunyach situated between the lake and the courtyard, the jug of children by Josep Reynés situated near the castle, the statue paying tribute to Walt Disney by Josep Reynés situated near the parliament, the monument paying tribute to general Prim by Lluís Puiggener situated in front of the entrance of the zoo...

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