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Contemporary Theme Barcelona

Where can I start ??? The city hides its contemporary arts in each of its districts but I will do my best to make you enjoy this theme itinerary.

You will need at least 4 days minimum because they are located in 7 different districts:

  • Ciutat Vella
  • Eixample
  • Horta Guinardo
  • Nou Barris
  • Sant Marti
  • Sants Montjuïc
  • Sarria Sant Gervasi

Let’s start the first day by the downtown, the Ciutat Vella district with its MACBA (Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona - plaza àngels 1) built by Richard Meier and inaugurated in 1995 where there is always an exposition to discover.

Walking towards the Cathedral of Barcelona, you may notice an undulated and colored glossy roof, just below it, there is the Santa Caterina market (avinguda francesc cambó 16) which, originally it was a convent, has been renovated in 2005 by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue. A good place to buy fresh food and to lunch in one of the restaurants.

Leaving the place, you will go to Eixample Izquierda neighborhood to visit the Joan Miró park (aragó 2), also known as "parc de l’escorxador" (abattoir park). The park has been built on the former place of the old abattoir of the city by a group of young architects leaded by Beth Galí and it has been inaugurated in 1983 as the sculpture of Joan Miró, Dona i Ocell (Wife and Bird), of 22 meters high.

If you don’t want to walk from the market to this park, take the nearest metro from L4 jaume I to passeig de gràcia station and after take L3 to get off at tarragona station.

Near to it, there is the Espanya Industrial park (muntadas 1-37), located at Sants Montjuïc district, which has been built by Luis Peña Ganchegui on the site of the former fabric factory called “España Industrial” in 1985. In 1987, the steel Dragon of Andrés Nagel, 32 meters wide and 12 meters high, live in this park but also some sculptures from the 1929 International Exhibition can be found like the Neptune of Manuel Fuxà, the Venus of José Pérez Peresejo…

Before to keep going on, I just want to say that this first part can be considered as one day of visit because discovering the 2 parks can take you some times and also because the next area to visit is a big one which can be considered as the 2nd day.


Walking about 13 minutes from the park and still staying at the same district, you will arrive at “plaza espanya” where you will get a view about the Anella Olímpica of Montjuïc (parc de montjuïc). It is in this area where was celebrated the 1992 Olympic Games, for this occasion the Olympic Stadium has been built by Lluís Companys.

Nowadays, the place is used to celebrate some events and travelers can get in to take pictures and to feel the emotion of the competition. Santiago Calatrava built the Communication Tower, with its 136 meters high and lightly bent, the tower looks like an athlete and it acts as a sun dial by projecting its shadow to the europe square.

Before to leave this area, go to discover the Sant Jordi Palace (passeig olímpic 5) from Arata Isozaki, the Bernat Picornell swimming pool (avinguda estadi 30-38) from Antoni Lozoya and Joan Ricard, the university of INEFC (National Institute of Catalonia Physical Education - avinguda de l'estadi 12-22) from Ricard Bofill based on columns and triangular forms.

If you like the nature, visit the Botanic Garden of Barcelona (doctor font i quer) from Carles Ferrater, Josep Lluís Canosa, Bet Figueras, Artur Bossy and Joan Pedrola.

Montjuïc is very huge and because there are so many things to see and to visit, you can take easily one day, I would even say between 2 and 3 days. If at the end of the day you are still around, I recommend you to go to watch the magic fountain show (plaza de carles buïgas) in front of the MNAC (National Art Museum of Catalonia) before to dinner. A show of light and water in the rhythm of the music from 21h PM to 23h30 PM the thursday, friday, saturday and sunday (summer time) and from 19h PM to 21h PM the friday and saturday (winter time).

Starting the 3rd day, you will go to Eixample Derecha neighborhood to discover the North Station park (nàpols 70) which was inaugurated in 1988. It has been built by Andreu Arriola, Carme Fiol and Enric Pericas but Beverly Pepper designed the green space of this park called “Cielo Caído” (Fallen Sky) made of small pieces of glazed ceramic of blue sky color.

To go there, assuming that you will be at “plaza catalunya”, take the metro L1 and stop to arc de triomf station but if you will prefer to walk, count about 18 minutes.

Located in the same area, Ricard Bofill is the architect of the TNC (National Theater of Catalonia - plaza de les arts 1) and inaugurated in 1996. Looking like a greek temple, you can enjoy its beautiful pitched roof underpinned by 26 columns of 12 meters high meanwhile taking a little morning break in the art square.

The next architecture is the Auditori (lepant 150) which, built by Rafael Moneo, has been inaugurated in 1999. It is the main building for the contemporary music festival of Barcelona and it includes the music museum, ESMUC (Superior School of Catalonia Music) and the headquarter of OBC (Symphonic Orchestra of Barcelona and Catalonia) but the most impressive is the cubic lantern made of glass and decorated with striped paintings from Pablo Palazuelo.

Leaving the area to enter to the Sant Marti district via “plaza de les glòries catalanes”, you will discover the Agbar tower (avinguda diagonal 211) which has been inaugurated in 2003 and built by Jean Nouvel and the company B720.

This tower of 144 meters high takes advantage of the solar energy and groundwater to reduce energy consumption because of its different-colored glass louvers, you will enjoy a light show full of colors during night time.

Walking up a little, you will find the Clot park (escultors claperós 55-63). Built on the former ground of old factories and garages and inaugurated in 1986.

Some old structures have been conserved and integrated in the new design as the old wall of the RENFE workshop which has become an aqueduct of slender shape ended with a 25 meters waterfall.

Walking down the diagonal avenue, the architect Jean Nouvel built the Poblenou Central park (avinguda diagonal 130) and inaugurated


in 2008 where, once inside, you can discover an area of moon shape, the sardana square surrounded by huts…

Still in the same district, exactly in the old industrial area of Barcelona (Poblenou neighborhood), some old factories have been rebuilt for new purposes mixing old structure with new technology as the buildings of Can Felipa and Can Ricart (pallars 277). Dating from 1855, Can Felipa is now an impressive structure made of large windows and mansard roof and Can Ricart has conserved the main section, the adjacent tower and an area used as studios by artists.

Down the diagonal avenue, near the Fòrum and the beach, you will find the Diagonal Mar park (llull 362) which has been designed by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue. The park is divided in different large spaces (an elevated footbridge above the water, a pond with scultures ejecting vaporized water, the structures of wavy pipes…) in which the water flows through them by an elevated tubular structure.


The Fòrum (rambla prim 2-4) has been inaugurated in 2004 for the Universal Forum of Cultures and designed by Herzog and De Meuron. It has the form of a big equilateral triangle of indigo blue. Once inside, you can visit the 2 permanent expositions about the city on the first floor and if it is a sunny day, its light gives, after going through the windows and a kind of metallic rods, the sensation that the water slides from top to bottom (tuesday closed).

The Fòrum park, built as the same time as the Fòrum, has different spaces to discover as the CCIB

(International Convention Center of Barcelona), Auditoris park, the photovoltaic cell suspended and bent above a column forest, the natural sciences museum...

Walking all along the beach, you end your day at the Vila Olímpica del Poblenou neighborhood, located also at Sant Martí district, which has been created for the 1992 Olympic Games in front of the Mediterranean sea, its goal was to lodge the athletes and near to it, the Port Olímpic.

The Port Olímpic area (passeig marítim del port olímpic) has been built in 1991 by Oriol Bohigas, Josep Martorell, David Mackay and Albert Puigdomènech for the purpose to entertain athletes of the Olympic Games. This area is full of clubs, restaurants, bars… but also some arts as the Golden Fish of Frank Gehry.

If you don’t want to walk, take the metro L4 from el maresme- fòrum to ciutadella-vila olímpica station.

This is the 4th and last day for the Contemporary Theme Barcelona and you will use a lot the metro. From “plaza catalunya”, take the metro L1 to clot station and after take L2 to bac de roda station. You will discover the Bac de Roda bridge (bac de roda 212) which, located in the Sant Andreu district, has been built by Santiago Calatrava between 1985 and 1987. Also called “calatrava bridge”, it has a curved shape inspired by the lines of the human body, bright colors and cables in tension on both sides.

Take back the metro L2 to clot station, L1 to urquinaona station and after L4 to llucmajor station. Here there is the Central Park of Nou Barris (doctor pi i molist 133), located at the district of the same name, which hides some beautiful contemporary arts like a lamp designed as a comb, a lamppost designed as a diapason… but mainly characterized by its many green platforms and its many water in form of pools and fountains.

Taking back the metro L4 to passeig de gràcia station and after L3 to mundet station. The Joan Brossa park (passeig de la vall d'hebrón 185-201), built by Bonell i Rius and located at Horta Guinardo district, can be accessed through a visual poem of Joan Brossa which also serves as the entrance of the Laberint park. The architect offers the visitor to discover the park through an itinerary of 3 sections (the birth, the path with pauses and incidents and the outcome) in which the letter A opens and closes the poem and the itinerary.

The velodrome is the other building to see, part of the Joan Brossa park, it has been built in 1984 which served as olympic headquarter of track cycling in 1992.

Back to “plaza catalunya”, for the last visit of the day, you will have to go to Sarria Sant Gervasi district by taking the FGC train S1 or S2 to peu de funicular station, after the Vallvidriera railway and finally the bus 111 to discover the Collserola tower (carretera de vallvidrera al tibidabo) which has been designed by Norman Foster and inaugurated in 1992. Its 288 meters high is one of the emblems of the district and near to it, there is the public viewpoint where people can enjoy a great and spectacular view on the city. The tower opens its door at 11h and only from wednesday to sunday including bank holidays.

See Contemporary Theme Barcelona map in full screen