It is hard to believe that bold, brassy Tibidabo forms part of one of the loveliest and most serene urban parks in Europe; behind the famous mountain-top fun fair are nearly 20,000 acres of undulating forests, grasslands, rivers and hills dotted with fountains, forgotten villages, churches and old farmhouses—only a half hour from the Plaça de Catalunya by FGC train, but all seemingly a world away from the city sprawling on the plain at their feet.
Besides Sir Norman Foster's landmark Collserola Tower, other man-made structures in the park include the sleepy old (and very upmarket village) of Vallvidrera, a 10-minute walk from the Baixador de Vallvidrera station.
Vallvidrera is best known for the 18th-century Vil.la Joana, the last home of Catalonia's most famous poet, Jacint Verdaguer (Ctra. de l'Església 104), which in 2016 is slated to reopen as a literary museum and study centre.
Among the many walks outlined at the centre is a shady botanical walk past the Font de la Budellera, designed by JP Forestier in 1916. The spring ripples down three stone tiers to a pool, decorated with an ingenious design by Antoni Tàpies and sculpted by Pere Casanovas, re-creating Barcelona's coat of arms. The park also has a number of other trails, which are fun to explore by mountain bike.**
Images by: Victor M. Vicente Selvas, Creative Commons License, Pere López, Creative Commons License