Ciutadella Park in Barcelona, the lung of the Catalan city

The Park of the Ciutadella in Barcelona was built at the end of the 19th century and was the first public park in the city, a category that it has held for many years. In the park, you can find centennial trees, more than 100 variety of plants, 19th-century buildings transformed into museums, sculptures, fountains and large areas for walking and breath.

Fuentes en el parque de la Ciutadella de Barcelona
Image source: the most popular fountain in the Ciutadella Park

The history of the Ciutadella Park

In the lands where this park is located, with an area of 17 hectares, King Philip V ordered to build a sizeable military citadel in 1715 with the aim of maintaining control of Barcelona after the surrender of September 11 of the previous year.

Its construction involved the demolition of more than 1,000 homes in the neighborhood of La Ribera and the walls of the northeast area of Barcelona.

In 1869, General Prim, seeking the support of the Barcelona bourgeoisie, delivered the citadel to the city of Barcelona. As a condition, he said that this space had to host a public park. After that, some volunteers demolished the military construction. Only the chapel, the Governor’s Palace and the arsenal, the current seat of the Parliament of Catalonia, were preserved.

It was then that these lands became a green lung for Barcelona, a place to breath in a city that was increasingly crowded.

Josep Fontserè was the creator of his original layout in 1872; with the collaboration of Gaudí. This design was modified in 1888 to house the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona and, later, to locate the city’s zoo.

What you can see in the Park of the Ciutadella in Barcelona

Get the know the park, Barcelona
Image source: Get the know the park

Flora and Fauna

Nature is the main protagonist of the Ciutadella Park in Barcelona. You will see a lot of trees and plant varieties, such as lime trees, poplars, acacias, palms and pines, among others.

As for the fauna, there are more than 100 different species of birds: herons (its colony is considered the most important in Catalonia), charcoal burners, parrots, starlings, hawks, sparrows, blackbirds and turtledoves are just some examples.

Centenary trees

In this natural environment, it is worth mentioning the trees included in the catalog of trees of local interest in Barcelona. In this park, you can admire an orange tree from Louisiana, an acacia from Constantinople, a Quercus polymorpha or an Australian pine. All of them were planted at the end of the 19th century. The bald cypresses of the lake zone date from beginnings of the XX.

An Open Air Museum

There are many sculptures you will find on this walk, so the Ciutadella Park in Barcelona is almost an open-air museum. Among them stands out an equestrian of General Prim (which we’ve already told you he was the one who delivered these lands to the city), a bronze sculpture dedicated to the Catalan volunteers of 1914 and different busts scattered throughout the park.

There are two of these statues that are especially famous: the Stone Mammoth and the Umbrella’s Lady, that for a long time became one of the symbols of the city. You will find it crowning an ornamental fountain by Josep Fontserè.

Stone Mammoth, Ciutadella Park in Barcelona
Image source: Giant Stone Mammoth

Architecture in the Ciutadella Park

Besides nature and sculptures here you will also enjoy a rich architecture.

The Park of the Ciutadella in Barcelona has 10 entrances, among which 2 monumental doors stand out. Josep Fontserè designed these doors with iron bars, lampposts and lion heads next to the Barcelona coat of arms, among other elements. These doors are gorgeous.

The vestiges of the old military citadel

Among them, we find the military chapel, the governor’s palace (now a secondary education center) and the arsenal building, seat of the Parliament of Catalonia.

Another one is the Martorell Museum of Geology, of neoclassical style, integrated into the initial design of the citadel.

The old Plaza de Armas

This square, designed by the French engineer and landscape architect JCN Forestier in 1916, is located in front of the Parliament. We wanted to put particular emphasis since it is considered the best-preserved landscape work in the park.

Ancient buildings of the 1888 Expo

For the exhibition of 1888, some constructions that still remain were built. An example is found in the building that was the restaurant of the universal exhibition. It was constructed of exposed brick and, being the work of Domènech i Muntaner, it is part of the first stage of Barcelona’s modernism. It is known as the Castle of the Three Dragons and is currently the headquarters of the Museum of Zoology of Barcelona.

The waterfall of the Ciutadella Park

Another very representative element of this green space is its waterfall. It was designed by Josep Fontserè with the help of a young Gaudí, who developed the hydraulic project and who is supposed to have created the decorative elements.

This waterfall also has a sculptural decoration designed by Catalan artists of the late nineteenth century. In the center, you’ll see the birth of Venus and, at the top, the quadriga of the Aurora. You will also observe four groups of geniuses, two fauns and the figure of Eros and Neptune, among others. A fantastic piece of art.

More places to breathe and relax

Boat ride through the park
Image source: Boat ride through the park

Remember that in this oasis of nature you will find many places where you can breathe and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city. You will only have to walk along its wide promenades, but you can also navigate with a small boat in its lake or visit the zoo located in this green space, serene and full of treasures in the form of trees, buildings and sculptures.

And we do not forget all the other points of interest that are located around the Ciutadella Park: the Basílica of Santa María del Mar, the Palau de la Música, the Arc de Triomf or the magical streets of the Gothic Quarter are some of the places that you can see very close to the Ciutadella Park in Barcelona.