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Discover the Parc Cuitadella Area of Barcelona

8 things to do and see

Demolished Citadel fortress was extensively redeveloped into a park for the 1889 world exhibition. Remaining citadel buildings government or museum spaces

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Updated: Jan 12, 2023

by: Barcelona Travel Hacks

Description of Cuitadella and La Ribera

Parc Cuitadella an eighteen hectare park and one of Barcelona's oldest natural spaces, with fields for picnics, a boating lake, fountain monument, a zoo, castle and greenhouses. The park provides shade in multiple areas with pine and palm trees and is a popular oasis in the city.

The formation of the park starts with the demolition of a citadel fortress who's footprint covers the park and parts of the Ribera neighbourghood of Barcelona. I have included surrounding attractions which are build on the footprint of the demolished fortress.

The Spanish War of Succession from 1701 to 1714 was lost by Catalan forces and the city of Barcelona was occupied by french troops. The Spanish king Felipe V (of French lineage) constructed a massive military citadel in 1715 to control the rebellious population of Barcelona. The citadel was constructed by leveling a large residential area of over 1200 houses, called La Ribera, the residents being forcibly ejected, many relocating to little barcelona - Barceloneta, a new village outside of the citadel and medieval walls of Barcelona.

The born Cultural centre, A 20th century market, recently refurbished is now an archaeological site with a basement floor showing the buildings of La Ribera that were demolished down to half a metre in height to provide clear sight lines for the cannons pointing towards Barcelona city. Another example of the forced demolition is the Sant Augusti Monastery whose remains are today a civic centre.

In 1889 the citadel was turned over to the city by Catalan politician and military leader General Joan Prim, in an effort to gain favor with the local bourgeoisie industrial class. Nothing remains of the citadel today except three buildings that were inside the star shaped walls. The former arsenal is today the Catalan Parliament building the citadel chapel, and the Governor's Palace, now Verdaguer Secondary School were the only buildings not demolished. They can be viewed from inside the park.

The original layout of the park was created by young architect Josep Fontsere in 1872 and was modified for the Universal Exhibition of 1888, and again in 1892 to include the Barcelona Zoo, when banker Lluis Marti Codolar gifted his collection of exotic animals to the local government. The Passeig Luis I Companys boulevard was constructed to lead up to the park. The main monument on this boulevard is Arc de Triomf.

Cuitadella park has some famous monuments such as the Three Dragons castle that was built for the universal exhibition by Domenech I Montaner as a cafe and restaurant for the hotels of the Universal Exhibition. In 1920 the castle was converted into the Zoology Museum/natural history museum of Barcelona but is currently closed for refurbishment. The modernist greenhouses were built by Josep Amargos to showcase exotic plants during the Exhibition and are currently closed for refurbishment. The castle and greenhouses are worth admiring from outside. Note the heavy use of Saint George dragons on shields and lamp posts. Sant Jordi (George) is the saint of catalunya.

The lake and the waterfall in the north eastern corner of the park are a popular tourist attraction which can be visited via steps on each side up to a viewpoint behind the waterfall. The Font de la Cascada fountain is decorated with sculptural elements by a variety of 19th-century Catalan artists. The most eye catching is the sculpture of four gilded horses, the Quadriga de l'Aurora by Rossend Nobas that sits on top of the fountain and lake pavilion structure.

next to the Fountain and pavilion monument you will see a bandstand now known as la Glorieta de la Transsexual Sonia. It is named in honor of a transsexual woman, Sonia Rescalvo Zafra, who was murdered at that site in 1991. Walking south along a tree lined path from the Fountain and pavilion monument you will find a woolly mammoth sculpture that is a popular spot for children to sit on and take photos. On the round about in front of the Barcelona Zoo entrance is a statue of a military figure on horseback. This is General Prim.

Outside of the park, but within the footprint of the citadel is the Barcelona Chocolate Museum and is inside a building that was part of the former Sant Agusti Monastery.

For more information about each attraction within Cuitadella, click on the images below.

Happy Exploring!

Attractions in Cuitadella and La Ribera

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