Located in southwestern Barcelona and rising up over the city, Montjuïc is an area of Barcelona that boasts beautiful views, excellent museums, lush green spaces and a handful of must-see attractions. It takes its name - literally meaning "Hill of the Jews" - from a Jewish cemetery located there as far back as the 9th century, and its fame rose when it hosted the 1929 World's Fair and the 1992 Olympic Games.
You could easily spend an entire day or even two exploring the main sights of Montjuïc, but a guided tour is a great way to discover the main cultural and tourist attractions while getting a bit of background knowledge. Below you'll find a brief description of some of the main stops on your guided tour of the Montjuïc area:
El Castillo de Montjuïc / Castle of Montjuïc
The oldest sight on Montjuïc is the emblematic and historically strategic castle perched atop the hill. It was built int he 18th century by the Bourbons on the remains of a previous fort that dated back to the mid-17th century. Nowadays the castle is home to the Museo Militar (Military Museum) with an interesting collection of castle models, guns, swords, uniforms, maps, photographs and suits of armor. Its outer walls are a unique jumble of angular concentric perimeters, designed for artillery deflection purposes. Inside, the fort is surprisingly more medieval in appearance, with its straight walls and square shape. Today you can walk along the ramparts of the castle, have a snack at the little outdoor café, walk along the pathway - called the Camí del Mar - that's been runs along the cliff below the castle walls. From here you can take in the breathtaking views of the city below, of the northern beaches and the Port Olimpic.
Los Jardines Botánicos / Botanical Gardens
With over 2,000 plants from all around the world, Barcelona's botanical garden was built in the 1990's between the castle and the Olympic Stadium. It sprawls across 14 hectares on a steep slope and offers fantastic views of Barcelona, the various Olympic facilities, the sea and, in the distance, several mountains. Here you can meander through easy-to-follow paths that wind through lovely landscaped areas that feature the flora of the Mediterranean, Chile, South Africa, California, Australia and the Canary Islands.
El Estadio Olímpico / Olympic Stadium
Originally built for the 1929 Exhibition, the Olympic Stadium was given a modern facelift to accommodate the opening and closing ceremonies of the must more recent 1992 Olympic Games. Still maintaining its original Neoclassical façade, which Catalan architects in charge of readying it for the Olympics left untouched, it's a spacious stadium that comfortably holds an impressive 65,000 people. Between the Olympic Stadium and the Palau Sant Jordi, a sports and concert venue, is a wide terrassa with fantastic views of the city. Here you can also admire the marvellous concrete-and-marble expanse with its long, water-fed troughts, not to mention the communications tower built by Santiago Calatrava in his signature ultra-modern style.
El Palacio Nacional / National Palace
Built as the central pavilion of the International Exhibition, the Palau Nacional (National Palace) is a majestic, Neo-Baroque building as well as home of one of Barcelona's top museums: the National Art Museum of Catalunya (MNAC). The collection ranges from Romanesque paintings right up through 20th century works.