The elevated Montjuic leisure, culture and entertainment complex west of the centre running down to the port, evolved in preparation for Barcelona's hosting of the 1992 Olympic Games. Since then this Barcelona leisure complex has continued to develop, incorporate more museums and art galleries and is currently in 2007 getting a further overhaul, particularly around the Olympic Stadium. Montjuic Barcelona attractions could fill up a few days easily. Barcelona's National Catalan Art Gallery is here, and not to be missed for the best of Catalan Art (an extensive collection of Catalan artist Mariano Fortuny held here is a highlight).
Montjuic covers a number of themes from Barcelona historic sights including the Castello de Montjuic (to which you can now take the newly reopened cable car up, for panoramic views of Barcelona), Barcelona art including the Joan Miro Foundation and the Museu Nacional D'Art De Catalunya and a huge choice of other museums including the Olympic Museum which explores in-depth the Barcelona 1992 Olympics. Other buildings, attractions and monuments of note are the 1929 Venetian styled entrance gates near Placa Espana, the Magic Fountain, the Olympic Stadium, the botanical gardens and Santiago Calatrava's distinctive white twist communications tower. (Metro. Placa Espana/Line 1/Line 2 and Line 8).
The Montjuic hill at 173m, with highest point atop Castillo de Montjuic, is an all inclusive Barcelona leisure complex focusing on sport, culture/art and nature with an extensive botanical gardens on-site. Montjuic is a great Barcelona space to head for to chill, take your time and escape the huge crowds around Las Ramblas, the Barri Gotic and now the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell which also become extremely crowded. At Montjuic there's a huge amount of space. Plenty of visitors head here but it never feels crowded. Within the complex there's a superb choice of relaxing cafes and restaurants (checkout the Barcelona views from the National Catalan Art museum's cafe vista. Monserrat is clearly visible in the distance!
Entering Montjuic via the Placa Espana end is always recommended. This was the main entrance for the 1929 Exhibition, and later 1992 Olympics, through the mammoth Venetian pillar styled gates. Look straight ahead and you'll see the magic fountain and the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) beyond. The MNAC is Catalonia's main art gallery and dates from the same period as the entrance gate - 1929 and the great exhibition. Before its role as Catalonia's main art gallery, the MNAC was the grand Palau Nacional, one of the most iconic structures built fro the 1929 Universal Exposition. The building and design of it were a rather hurried affair, and its seen considerable reconstruction in recent years to shore up its structure.
Other earlier buildings on Montjuic include the Teatre Grec etween the Archaeological Museum and the Joan Miro Foundation. This open air Greek theatres dates from 1920 to 1923. The centrepiece Olympic ring formed the main stadium for the Barcelona 1992 Olympics. Moving to the Joan Miro Foundation, this dates from 1975 and was designed by famous rationalist architect Josep Lluis Sert.
Montjuic's castle dates from the 18th century. Built not for defence, but as symbolic watchover Barcelona base. Castello de Montjuic saw most of its action against the city of Barcelona itself, and in the 19th and 20th centuries as prison and torture chamber in the latter of political republican prisoners after the Spanish Civil War. Little of the darker side of Montjuic Castle's history is explore in the Military Museum on-site which houses military regalia and weapons! The views from Castello de Montjuic's rampants are today one of the reasons to enter. Another themed area at Montjuic built for the 1929 Universal Exposition is the Poble Espanyol (weblink right). A particularly good attraction on Montjuic for children, games, storytelling sessions and more go on in the recreated Spanish streets within the village. Craft centres and restaurants are on-site. For more information on Poble Espanyol and all of Montjuic's many attractions see the weblinks right for details.
Art lovers will want to head to Barcelona's Montjuic area for sure. The extensive collection of Catalan art held at the Museu Nacional (MNAC) spans centuries, from the 10th to the 20th. This is one of Spain's best art galleries for medieval art, that is Romanesque and Gothic, so not to be missed. Highlights from 19th century Catalan art are numerous, from the etchings and magazine illustrations of Ramon Casas (1866-1932) to earlier works by Mariano Fortuny, who spent some time in Africa - note the huge panorama of 'La Batalla d Tetuan (1862-1864 by Fortuny, as well as Spanish Wedding (1868/9-70) and La Vicaria (1868-69). Fortuny tells epic narrative stories in his huge panoramas.
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Palau Nacional Montjuic Park 08038 Barcelona Spain. Tel. (00 34) 93 622 0376. (see weblink right for more details on the collections here).
Celebrated 20th century Spanish artist Joan Miro was born in Barcelona in 1893, so the Fundacio Joan Miro is aptly placed here with Montjuic Park. The distinctive white angular building is the work of rationalist architect Joseph Lluis Sert who was responsible for a number of buildings associated with Miro including his studio and the Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro/Miro Museum in Allorca's capital Palma (see weblink right). The Joan Miro Foundation here at Montjuic Barcelona is the big one, incredibly popular so expect queues and get there early if you can! Inside is the largest collection of Joan Miro's work on the planet - no wonder it's popular. 11,000 Miro pieces are in the collection and include paintings, ceramics, sculpture and graphic work. Miro donated most of the pieces to the gallery himself. Miro work on display spans his whole life from 'The Pedicure' (1901) to 'The Foundation Tapestry' (1979). Other artists are represented here, often in temporary exhibitions including Antoni Tapies and Jean Michel Basquiat. Checkout the Joan Miro Foundations weblink right for details on the Miro Collection and Temporary Exhibitions.
Fundacio Joan Miro, Parc de Montjuic s/n 08038 Barcelona Spain. Tel. 934 439 470.