During a long time, this park was the only green area in Barcelona. It is the first park of the city and my favorite one. It is really big and contains all kind of interesting places: the zoo, the Parliament of Catalonia, a lake where you can rent little boats, a fountain designed by Josep Fontsere (it is said that Gaudi was his apprentice during the time the fountain was built), the Museum of Zoology and the Museum of Geology.
I consider myself privileged, because on my way to work by bicycle, I pedal through the Park every morning, passing by the fountain when everything is still quiet and only few people are inside the park. The gardeners are planting flowers, watering them or cleaning up while some people go for their morning run. Some adventurers might have spent the night there along with the homeless who choose to sleep there. It is a totally different feel of the park than on a Sunday afternoon, when hundreds of people spend their free time there. In the morning hours, the park is mine 🙂
The name Ciutadela comes from the times where a Citadel was constructed by Philip V of Spain in this area. Since he needed space for this largest fortress of Europe in that time, he ordered houses of this area to be destroyed thus leaving its inhabitants homeless. He did not get any more popular by forcing hundreds of Catalonians to build the fortress during 3 years. Being a symbol of hatred for the Catalonians, the citadel was later destroyed.
In 1888, when Barcelona developed into a modern city, the area was used as Exhibition area for the Exposicion Universal de Barcelona. Sculptures were added into the park and it was made to what the Parque de la Ciutadela is today: a place to enjoy, to walk around, to have picnics, to do yoga, take a boatride on the lake …. and much more.
One of my favorite sculptures is the “Desconsol” (grief) made by Josep Llimona. You can see the copy in the Parque de la Ciutadela, just in front of the Parliament of Catalonia. The original can be seen in the MNAC of the Palau Nacional.
Definitely worth a visit to see the original sculpture at the MNAC (Palau Nacional):