Description of Cuitadella & La Ribera
Parc de la Cuitadella is a 19th Century, eighteen hectare park and one of Barcelona's oldest open air 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.
Along with Parc Guell, Cuitadella park is probably the most well known parks and gardens in Barcelona.
The formation of the park starts with the demolition of Barcelona citadel fortress who's footprint covers the park and parts of the Ribera neighbourhood of Barcelona. This page is about the park and surrounding streets and interesting attractions which are build on the footprint of the demolished Citadel fortress.
History and Origins of park Cuitadella
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 levelling 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 protective 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 favour with the local bourgeoisie industrial class. Nothing remains of the citadel today because General Prim ordered that the citadel be bombarded from Montjuic Castle to break down the walls. Inside the footprint of the old star shaped citadel walls, three buildings survived the demolition. The former Citadel Arsenal is today the Catalan Parliament building, the Citadel Chapel, and the Citadel Governor's Palace, is now Verdaguer Secondary School. They can be viewed from inside the park.
The original layout of the park was created by 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 as an ornate lead up to the park and today forms one of the two entrances 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 - castell dels tres dragons that was built for the universal exhibition (World Fair) 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 patron 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 (cascada monumental). 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 waterfall fountain monument structure.
It is Rumoured that a young Antoni Gaudi assisted Josep Fontsere with the construction of some elements in the park.
To find out about Barcelona's other famous fountain, visit my page about Barcelonas Magic Fountains.
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. Following this path in the direction of the Zoo, you will see a round about in front of the Barcelona Zoo entrance which has 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 and Ribera neighbourhood, click on the images below.