With a height of 173 metres and located right next to the sea, Montjuïc Mountain is one of the most beautiful spots in Barcelona. Nowadays it is visited by the vast majority of tourists who come to the city, as well as by locals, who are attracted by the large amount of museums, gardens, viewpoints, sporting venues, tourist attractions and the huge amount of charms that each of its corners has to offer. It hasn’t always been this way, however, as throughout many decades the city and its inhabitants turned their back on the area. Much of this neglect, and even nervousness and fear with which Barcelona’s locals looked at Montjuïc, was due to their knowledge of what had happened during times of war, when the city was attacked several times from Montjuïc Castle, at the summit of the mountain.
The most widespread theory about the meaning of the word ‘Montjuïc’ is that it comes from the term ‘Mountain of the Jews’, because of the existence of a Jewish cemetery that had medieval origins, that was situated on the mountain. Other historians defend the theory that actually the name ‘Montjuïc’ is a derivation of ‘Monte Jovis’, referring to the former existence of a possible Roman temple that was dedicated to the god Jupiter.
It was immediately after the celebration of the 1929 International Exposition that the people’s attitude towards Montjuïc Mountain suddenly changed, and this is hardly surprising given the amount of work that was put into developing it into what you can see there nowadays, leading it to be also known as el Parc de Montjuïc (Montjuïc Park). Years later, when some of its infrastructures and gardens were in danger of being forgotten once again, it was another major event, the celebration of the 1992 Olympic Games, that prompted another facelift for the mountain, and nowadays it therefore looks better than ever.
What to see on Montjuïc Mountain
Thanks to the huge range of possibilities that the mountain offers, we recommend that wherever possible you reserve a whole day to visit it. Depending on your interests you can choose to dedicate more time on seeing the cultural sights or focus on the wonderful views from its viewpoints, or the quiet walks through its many gardens, which is a must during the spring and summer months.
Montjuïc’s importance to the city should not be underestimated, because its historical footprint isn’t just present in the mountain itself, but can also be found throughout Barcelona. Because of its properties, the stone from Montjuïc Mountain is an excellent material for construction purposes, and therefore the vast majority of historical buildings that were constructed before the middle of the 20th century employed the use of stone from the quarry at Montjuïc.
Museums and cultural offerings
The cultural sights that the mountain has to offer compete with any other area of the city, even including the Ciutat Vella (Old Town), the historical heart of Barcelona. A large part of the interest generated in the mountain is due to the presence of its museums, with the most important being the MNAC (the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) and the Fundación Miró.
Thanks to the developments that were carried out on Montjuïc for the 1929 International Exposition, nowadays you will be able to enjoy quiet walks through its many beautiful gardens. They are all quite different and have their own characteristics with respect to their vegetation and how they are designed. As you’re walking through Montjuïc, you can therefore come across a garden in which cacti feature heavily (such as in the Jardí de Mossèn Costa i Llobera) or another that was built to complement the palace that is housed within it, the Palauet Albéniz (in the Joan Maragall gardens).
One of the great charms that Montjuïc has to offer is the wide variety of viewpoints that are situated throughout the mountain, each of which offer unique views of different parts of the city. Because much of the mountain faces the sea, from many of these panoramic viewpoints the focus is on Barcelona’s coastline.
Tourist attractions, leisure and entertainment
Visiting the mountain isn’t just about its culture and walks through the gardens and viewpoints. Some of the city’s most visited and iconic tourist attractions can be found at Montjuïc, and they are frequented by Barcelona’s locals as well as visitors to the city.
The legacy that the 1992 Olympic Games left on Montjuïc is still very much present today. Many events of the different Olympic disciplines took place there, and the venues in which they took place are still thriving. Amongst them there are three highlights – the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi and the Picornell swimming pools, all of which can be found within the area known as the Olympic Ring (in Catalan Anella Olímpica).
Other places of interest within Montjuïc
Just in case the cultural and touristic offerings aren’t enough for you, we should let you know about some other charms around the mountain that are relatively unknown and that we invite you to discover. Amongst the many examples we can draw your attention to historical monuments such as the Venetian Towers, the Four Columns of Josep Puig i Cadafalch, modernist, neoclassical and gothic mausoleums of great architectural interest that can be found within the Montjuïc Cemetery, the Teatre Lliure theatre and many others such as the Communications Tower, Mercat de les Flors (flower market), Montjuïc Lighthouse, and the wonderful monumental fountain in the middle of the Plaça d’Espanya. By prior appointment you can also visit an air raid shelter dating back to the Spanish Civil War.
Map and how to get to Montjuïc
You can get there by Metro, bus, funicular, cable car, by private vehicle or even on foot from some areas of the city, by taking a short walk. Depending on the point of the city from which you’re travelling and the nature of your visit to the mountain you’ll need to decide which means of transport is the most convenient for you.
Although there are many ways to access Montjuïc by foot, the following are the most accessible and commonly used.
Plaça Espanya and the surrounding areas
From Plaça Espanya and its surrounding areas the easiest access by foot is via the Avinguda Maria Cristina, which will take you up to Montjuïc Fountain and the Palau Nacional. Another option is to go up Carrer Lleida, from which you can enter the mountain via the Teatre Grec gardens.
From the end of La Rambla and the surrounding areas
From the end of La Rambla (next to the Christopher Columbus statue) you can walk up Montjuïc Mountain in around 15 minutes. You can either go up the Passeig de Montjuïc and then follow the Paseig de Miramar up to the Jardins de Miramar, or you can go up the Forestier steps, next to the Passeig de Josep Carner, which will take you all the way up to the Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera.
Depending on where you’d like to start your trip round the mountain, one of the following Metro stops will be more convenient for you and you’ll need to choose between them:
Espanya: Lines 1 and 3.
Paral·lel: Lines 2 and 3.
Poble Sec: Line 3.
Líneas: 13, 21, 23, 55, 64, 91, 125, 150, H12, D29 and the Tourist Bus.
Out of all the buses, the only one that actually takes you right up to the top of Montjuïc, next to the castle, is the 150.
You catch the funicular at Paral·lel metro station (Lines 2 and 3) and you can go up the mountain using the same public transport metro ticket. The funicular stops at Avinguda de Miramar, very close to the gardens of Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer and Joan Brossa.
Aeri del Port cable car
The Aeri del Port is the tourist attraction that takes you from the Sant Sebastià tower, in La Barceloneta, to the Jardins de Miramar in Montjuïc.
If you want, you can go up Montjuïc in the car or on a moped, and there are various areas in which you can park including right at the top of the mountain by the castle.
Hotels around Montjuïc
There’s only one hotel on Montjuïc Mountain itself, the Hotel Miramar, which is located in the Jardins de Miramar. However, there are other accommodation options available at the foot of the mountain and its surrounding areas (the Sants Montjuïc and Poble Sec districts). Although it might not be the most central area, if you compare it to districts in the city’s Old Town (for example El Raval and the Gothic Quarter), this is actually an ideal place in which to stay, because there are many tourist attractions nearby and there are also plenty of bars and restaurants, many of which are in the Carrer Paral·lel and Carrer Blai. Depending on the area in which you’re staying, you can probably reach well-known sights such as the Passeig Marítim promenade and La Rambla on foot. Even if these aren’t quite walking distance, you won’t have any problems getting around, as the area is very well served by Barcelona’s public transport system, with Metro stations and bus stops which will take you to other areas of the city quickly and conveniently.
Bars, restaurants and nightlife in the area
The neighborhood of Poble Sec, next to Montjuïc, has plenty to offer as far as food and drink is concerned, with all sorts of bars and restaurants specialising in different types of food. You’ll be able to enjoy the famous aperitif in one of the typical bars in the area (Celler Cal Marino, Bar Seco, Quimet i Quimet, etc), have some pinchos in La Tasqueta de Blai, Blai 9, Blai Tonight, or go out for dinner in one of the many bars on the lively Carrer Blai. The shopping centre at Las Arenas, on Plaça Espanya, also has many bars and restaurants where you can have lunch or dinner.
If you decide to spend the whole day on the mountain, a great budget option is to buy sandwiches in one of the many bars before walking up the mountain, and sitting in one of Montjuïc’s gardens or at a viewpoint to eat them. There are also many small cafés with outdoor terraces in the mountain; the Miramar Restaurant stands out because of its wonderful views, and the Terraza Martínez because of the quality of the food it serves, both of which are next to the Miramar gardens.
If you’d like to spend the evening in the area, some of the best options are the El Molino theatre, which puts on cabaret acts and evening shows, the Sala Apolo, a well-known nightclub in the Poble Sec neighborhood and La Terrrazza, a nightclub within Poble Espanyol that opens its doors in the summer with the arrival of the good weather, which boasts a large outdoor terrace.
As it provides such a magnificent backdrop, Montjuïc Mountain is the chosen site for the celebration of many events, some of which started as small local initiatives, but thanks to their success have grown into highlights of the calendar for Barcelona’s locals, being attended by many tourists too.
Outdoor electronic music festival.
Sundays from June to September.
Jardins de Joan Brossa. +info
Outdoor cinema showings in their original language, subtitled in Spanish.
Various dates throughout July and August.
Outside Montjuïc Castle.
The ‘son et lumière’ show for the finale of the La Mercè festival.
Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. +info
The evening of 31st December.
Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina, next to the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. +info
At the foot of Montjuïc Mountain, on Avinguda Maria Cristina and next to the Venetian Towers you’ll find various pavilions in which exhibitions and trade fairs are organised, some of which are as well-known as the Mobile World Congress, Alimentaria, Saló del Cómic, Saló de Turisme and Sónar Festival, amongst others.
Events are organised throughout the year within the grounds of Poble Espanyol. You’ll find anything from concerts to showings of short films, as well as all sorts of activities, many of which are aimed at children.