Opened in 1922, the Jardins de Laribal were some of the many gardens and buildings that served to decorate Montjuïc for the International Exhibition in 1929. Barcelona’s city council bought the land, which was until then privately owned by Josep Laribal’s estate, and they commissioned the landscape gardener and engineer Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier to complete the laborious project of creating these new public gardens, along with his assistant Nicolau M. Rubió Tudurí.
Stretching over 5 hectares, from the Fundació Miró to the Jardins del Teatre Grec, the Jardins de Laribal are situated in a fairly steep area of Montjuïc, and for this reason Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier took the opportunity to incorporate many elegant steps which complemented the various slopes, as well as beautiful waterfalls, fully taking advantage of the nature of the area rather than it posing a problem for the design of the gardens. These steps and waterfalls add to the charm of the gardens.
After several years during which the gardens were almost abandoned, some major renovation work was carried out to enhance and modernize them, making them now some of the most beautiful gardens not just in Montjuïc but in the whole of Barcelona.
Vegetation, art, architecture and decorative elements
The vast expanse of the gardens means that the variety of vegetation is immense, both Mediterranean in origin and from throughout the world. Trees such as medlars, bitter orange trees, pine trees, fig trees, palm trees and cypresses can be found alongside all sorts of plants and flowers, such as geraniums, roses, lavender, rosemary and ivy. The gardens have an almost fairytale-like quality to them, thanks to the lush greenery that can be found within them.
As well as the various trees and plants, the garden is rich in every type of decorative element, from items of architectural significance to sculptures. Highlights include various fountains, benches, pergolas, ramps, pots, steps and ponds. Some of the walls and a fountain, all of which are works by Llorenç Artigas, are coated in brightly coloured decorative ceramics, which give the gardens a stately air. We recommend that you take time to look at the three magnificent female sculptures: La Noia de la Trena (The Girl with the Plait) and Repós (Rest), both by Josep Viladomat, and Estival (Summer), by Jaume Otero, all dating back to the 1920s.
Font del Gat
The Font del Gat, in English ‘The Cat’s Fountain’, was built by Joan Antoni Homs in 1918. It’s a fountain in which the water flows through a hole resembling the mouth of a cat. It was the meeting point of several hikers who used to climb Montjuïc towards the first half of the 20th century, as well as for a group of intellectual gastronomes nicknamed La Colla de l’Arròs (literally ‘The Rice Gang’), and thus gained popularity among the locals. It’s true fame began when the lyricist Joan Amich wrote the popular song La Marieta de l’ull viu, also known as Baixant de la Font del Gat (Down by the Cat’s Fountain), the chorus of which mentions the fountain.
Next to the fountain there’s a ‘Noucentista’ building (Noucentisme was a Catalan cultural movement of the early 20th century that originated largely as a reaction against Catalan Modernism), which is the work of the famous Catalan architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. It’s currently the site of the restaurant and café La Font del Gat, and is somewhere you can enjoy a drink on the terrace while you relax and re-charge your batteries before further exploring the area.
During your tour of the gardens you’re sure to see a magnificent set of steps, called the Escaleras del Generalife. Both the steps and their surroundings were inspired by the Arab gardens of the Generalife in the Alhambra, Granada, including a waterfall in which the water flows along the railings, small ponds with fountains and a series of stone benches on which you can rest in the shade that is provided by the lush vegetation.
The Jardins de Laribal have many access points, including one that links them to the adjacent Jardins del Teatre Grec. We recommend that you access the gardens through what might be referred to as the main entrance, on the Passeig de Santa Madrona (Nº 2), next to the Archeological Museum of Catalonia, that you’ll reach after going up carrer Lleida.
passeig de Santa Madrona 2, Barcelona.
Every day from 10:00 until sunset.
Free of charge
How to get there
Metro: España (line 1 and 3).
Buses: lines 13, 23, 55, 125, 150 and tourist bus.
By foot: the gardens can be accessed on foot from the neighbouring Poble Sec area.