Sunday, August 7, 2016

Barcelona: Montjuic

A view of Barcelona from Montjuic
It's been a busy year, and I still have several posts to write about my trip to Barcelona last fall. So here goes:

Montjuic is a majestic hill in Barcelona. It has been inhabited, exploited and transformed over a period of some 10,000 years and its name is derived from the Jewish cemetery that was once located there. The hill was once covered in trees and the slopes were used for grazing animals and farmland. The forests were partially cleared in the 1890s, when parklands were developed. Large scale construction was first initiated in 1929, when Barcelona was the site of the 1929 World's Fair.

Outside Montjuic Castle
On a cloudy afternoon, we parked the car halfway up the hill and trekked up to the Castle, or Fortress located at the top of Montjuic. Used at various times as a lighthouse, a fort and a prison, the Castle now houses a Visitor's Center with an exhibition that presents a journey through the history of the fortress. However, there are many more sights to see on this grand hill.

One of the most impressive buildings, the Palau Nacional, houses The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, or MNAC, the national museum of Catalan visual art.

The National Palace, home of The National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC)
One of the most outstanding exhibits in the museum  is the Museu Nacional Romanesque Collection, which is unmatched by any other museum in the world. Many of the works contained in this part of the museum were originally found in rural churches in the Pyrenees and other areas of Old Catalonia. 29 frescoes were dismantled and transferred to the museum as a way of protecting them from destruction, particularly during the Spanish Civil War. Each fresco has its own space. This short video gives an idea of the collection:

Romanesque art rooms

My favorite part of the museum was the Modern Art collection, and I spent most of my time there. The museum has such a vast art collection that it deserves more than the scant hour or so that we had to explore it.

Woman from Granada, Hermen Anglada-Camarasa, 1914
Another area of Montjuic houses the Olympic Village, Museum and Stadium, from 1992, when Barcelona was selected as the site for several venues of the Summer Olympics. We didn't have time to explore this area, as we were more interested in seeing the art museums and natural resources on Montjuic.

Olympic Village and Stadium
We also had the chance to visit the Fundació Joan Miró, an art museum with a large and impressive collection of the works of Joan Miró.

Fundació Joan Miró
There is also a Botanical Garden located on Montjuic, though we didn't have time to visit it. Since we had a car, we were happy to find ample parking at the various sites on the hill. Another way to reach the top of the hill is by taking the funicular from a metro stop in downtown Barcelona. Sounds like fun! All in all, Montjuic has a lot to offer and one could easily spend several days perusing its sights.

No comments: