The Jardins del Baluard (which means the Gardens of the Bastion), located at the edge of the Raval district, close to its border with the Poble Sec district, is one of those places in Barcelona that still remains undiscovered by the vast majority of tourists that visit the city, and even by many of the city’s residents.
The word ‘Baluard’ (in Spanish ‘Baluarte’, in English ‘Bastion’), is used to describe a small pentagonal fortification that was built on a wall, in which a large number of men could gather, which made these constructions an excellent defence point for the wall, and of course for the city too.
The current Baluard de Drassanes o Santa Madrona dates back to the second half of the 18th century, but its origins go back many years earlier, because it was built on an older bastion, which was constructed during the Guerra dels Segadors (literally meaning ‘the Reapers War’, known in English as the Catalan Revolt). The lower part of the bastion was used for the quartering of the troops and as a storage space for the weapons, whereas in the upper part the barrels and cannons were set up.
The Jardins del Baluard belong to the Museu Marítim de Barcelona (Barcelona’s Maritime Museum, or MMB), and they form part of the complex of royal dockyards (in catalan, Drassanes Reials). Their unusual location, right at the top of the bastion which was one of the eleven bastions that made up Barcelona’s city wall, gives the gardens a special charm. In spite of the fact that they aren’t particularly high up, from their privileged position you can enjoy a different view of the area, with highlights including the statue of Christopher Columbus and the Three Chimneys, which date back to the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, and which have enjoyed the status of historic-artistic significance since 1979.
Portal de Santa Madrona
One of the main attractions of the remains of the wall, which forms part of its bastion, is the Portal de Santa Madrona, one of the gates of the city’s medieval wall, and that which has been best preserved. Formerly managed by the ‘Coronela de Barcelona’, nowadays the Puerta de Santa Madrona is closed to the public, and only opens on certain special occasions.
‘La Coronela’ was an armed force that had various militaries who were charged with certain tasks, one of which was to guard the city’s access points. La Coronela de Barcelona carried out these functions until 1714, the year in which the city surrendered to the troops of King Felipe V.
Inaugurated in 1953, unfortunately the Baluard Gardens have been closed to the public since 1993. From then on, they have only opened on vary rare occasions, which usually coincide with the celebration of a special date or event, such as the Fiestas del Raval, the Fiestas de Santa Eulàlia or the La Mercè Festival.
The fact that the gardens have remained closed for such a long time has meant that they have started to look quite neglected. Fortunately, after a re-design and tidy up, including some re-landscaping, in 2015 the Jardins de Baluard opened their doors to visitors again. Access to the gardens is gained from the entrance that dates back to the 18th century, and then you’ll need to go up the ramp that was constructed so that the barrels and cannons could go up, which were there to protect the dockyard and the city. Once you’re at the top, you’ll be able to see the towers of the medieval wall from the 13th century, and a figure of Santa Madrona amongst other sights.
During the summer months various activities are programmed, with the idea of raising awareness of this unknown space to visitors to the city and locals alike. The idea is to organise various small-scale concerts and a range of children’s shows for families to enjoy.
pl. (square) Blanquerna, s/n, Barcelona.
1st and 3rd Sunday of the month: from 11:00 to 14:00.
Free of charge.