This is a preview of the content in our Barcelona Art & Culture app. Get the app to:
  • Read offline
  • Remove ads
  • Access all content
  • Use the in-app Map to find sites, and add custom locations (your hotel...)
  • Build a list of your own favourites
  • Search the contents with full-text search functionality
  • ... and more!
iOS App Store Google Play

Parc de la Ciutadella

Lazy afternoons and messing about in boats

This popular park, home to the Barcelona zoo, is an important lung for a dense medieval city that has few open spaces. On Sunday afternoons it fills up with families, musicians, and performers; colourful parrots fill the palm and orange trees. But it was hardly intended that way; in fact, it was born of defeat and sorrow.

On 11 September 1714, as Barcelona fell to the troops of Philip V after an heroic 11-month resistance, Madrid decided it was high time to let those feisty Catalans know who was boss. The districts of La Ribera and El Born would bear the brunt: thousands of residents were forced to tear down their own homes, stone by stone, so Barcelona could build (naturally at its own expense), the 270-acre star-shaped Ciutadella.

It was of the largest fortresses ever constructed in Europe, occupied by an army that kept its cannons well oiled and aimed straight at the city. Mostly, however, it was used as a prison, especially for liberals during the Napoleonic era and early 19th century.

Read the full content in the app
iOS App Store Google Play

Parks & Gardens

La Ribera / El Born

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Jordi Payà, Laura Padgett