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Montjuic Mountain

Montjuic Mountain: Best Side Trip For Spectacular Views in Barcelona

by Christian Petzold - updated December 21, 2023

Montjuic mountain is situated on the southwestern edge of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It rests above the city and overlooks the harbor and Barcelona’s white-washed Mediterranean coastline.

Expect spectacular views of distant hilltops, medieval villages, and greenery that stretch as far as the eye can see.

History of Montjuic Mountain

Positioned atop the lush Montjuic Mountain, Montjuïc Castle stands as a beacon of Barcelona’s complex history and a guardian overseeing Port Vell. Its robust walls and timeless structure have borne witness to numerous significant periods, notably the poignant era of Lluís Companys. The castle, while echoing tales of yesteryears, provides visitors with more than just historical insights – it’s a vantage point like no other. 

Montjuic Mountain History

Gazing out from its sturdy battlements, one is treated to a splendid, unhindered view that is as thought-provoking as the stories encased within these age-old stones. In every nook and cranny of Montjuïc Castle, the past and present converge, offering a tangible link to history.

The mountain, which took its name from the Latin word “Montium,” meaning mountain covered with forests, was formed by water and sedimentary rocks from millions of years ago.

Human settlements on Montjuic date back to prehistoric times. It was home to the ancient Romans during their occupation of Spain and there are records of a lookout post on the hill dating to 1073. This was presumably because it was an excellent vantage point for seeing the entire city and the sea. However, it was not until the 17th century that it took a military duty, providing the groundwork for the modern castle we know now.

Amid the Catalan Revolt, the local municipality used the fortress of Montjuic as a base for their operations against the Spanish monarchy, which Pedro Fajardo led on orders from the King. The stronghold was the site of a significant fight known as the Battle of Montjuic, in which the Catalan army was victorious against the Spanish army.

Today, the museum is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike, hosting a diverse schedule of exhibitions and programs throughout the year, both indoors and out.

Jewish Origins

In the southwest of Barcelona, Montjuic is a forested hill that rises 173 meters above sea level and is originally home to the city’s Jewish community. 

In Catalan, Montjuïc stands for ‘Jewish Mountain’, it’s believed that it has Jewish roots because of the cemetery discovered on the mountain’s southern slope.

The Jewish grave in Montjuic is just one of many Jewish remnants appearing in Barcelona’s early history. By the 15th century, there were thousands of Jews living with their families in this area just next to the city walls.

A Cursed Castle

The castle has always been under the hands of the central government, and during the course of 300 years, the guns of Montjuic have been employed against the citizens of Barcelona, particularly during the turbulent years following the defeat of the 1714 War of Succession.

Montjuic Castle 1

While the past of Montjuic Mountain has been marred by violence for a long time, its more recent history is also uncomfortable. General Franco’s Republican and Falangist forces used the castle as a jail, torture facility, and execution site during the Spanish Civil War. Over 170 persons are estimated to have been killed at the castle during 1936 and 1938 alone.

According to records, prominent anarchists were killed in the moat around the castle. For the rest of the century, the fortress served as a political jail and even a place of execution for protesters such as Catalan nationalist Lluis Companys. 

Ride High with Montjuïc Cable Car

Imagine gliding up Montjuic Mountain in the Montjuïc Cable Car, with the whole of Barcelona stretching out beneath you. As you ascend, the remarkable panoramic view unfolds, showcasing the architectural marvel that is the Sagrada Familia and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea beyond. 

The journey is not merely a transit but a spectacle, treating every traveler to a unique aerial perspective of the city’s picturesque landscapes and vibrant life below. 

In just a few moments, the Montjuïc Cable Car takes you from the heart of the city to the tranquility and scenic splendor atop Montjuic Mountain, offering an experience that is as memorable as the destination itself.


Artistic Splendors within Palau Nacional

On the gentle slopes of Montjuic Mountain, near the bustling Plaza España, the Palau Nacional unfurls a world where art and history dance in a timeless embrace. Housing the Museu Nacional, it becomes a sanctuary where Spain’s artistic heritage, from various epochs, is celebrated and preserved.

 Navigating through its expansive galleries, one can traverse timelines, witnessing the evolution of artistic expressions and styles that have graced this vibrant nation. 

The setting sun often bathes Palau Nacional in a warm, golden hue, its majestic silhouette against the twilight sky becoming a canvas of its own – a sight that, coupled with the treasures within, renders it a quintessential locale on Montjuic Mountain.

Top Montjuic Mountain Attractions

1. Montjuic Castle

Montjuic Castle is a castle just outside Barcelona. It is located on top of Montjuic Mountain and has spectacular views of Barcelona’s harbor and the Mediterranean coastline. 

“The Montjuïc Castle stands as a silent sentinel on Barcelona’s hill, a witness to centuries of history and a guardian of the city’s secrets.”

With almost 350 years of history behind it, Montjuic Castle has played a key part in the city of Barcelona, becoming a symbol following the Catalan loss to Spain in 1714. Throughout the last three centuries, the Montjuic cannons have bombarded the city and its residents on several occasions, and Montjuic has been utilized as a jail and torture center regularly as well. Because of the brutal treatment meted out to anarchists and protestors, the name Montjuic became associated with cruelty.

Beautiful Montjuic Castle

Later in the twentieth century, the fortress was converted into a military museum. Francisco Franco inaugurated the Military Armor Museum in June 1963.

The castle was handed back to Barcelona City Council by the government in April 2007. Following months of negotiations, the castle was designated as a municipal facility. As a result, the museum was closed in 2010, and the City Council began a project to restore and waterproof the roof and a watchtower.

2. Olympic Ring

It’s a must-see sightseeing destination because its history is highly diverse. Don’t forget to take the cable car when you get there and even enjoy a nice walk around the Olympic Ring.

“The Olympic Ring is a circle of dreams where athletes from around the world come to chase their aspirations and leave a legacy of triumph and unity.”

It’s an excellent way to see all the different sides and buildings of the park. It’s also the perfect way to start your day before exploring the rest of Barcelona.

Olympic Ring

3. Magic Fountain

The Magic Fountain is not just any ordinary fountain. It is extraordinary because it has so many colors, lights, and water jets. The patterns of the water are synchronized to music playing in the background.

“The Magic Fountain is where the rhythm of water and the melody of light dance in harmony, casting a spell of wonder upon those who behold its enchanting performance.”

For example, ‘Barcelona’ by Freddie Mercury will have a beautiful display of streams of water that form into the shape of Barcelona’s city skyline with beautiful blue streams cascading down iconic buildings. 

Magic Fountain 1

While there is no definite time when the Magic Fountain is on, the music playing behind the fountain is always cued to some recognizable piece like ‘Barcelona.’ Who knows what music will play on some other night? It depends on what artists are currently famous in Spain and how their songs match certain events in Barcelona or Madrid.

4. Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens in Barcelona are undoubtedly a must when you are visiting this great city! The Botanical Gardens are located at Montjuic Mountain, which has an altitude of around 230 meters above sea level.

Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens were inaugurated on September 25, 1859, and are considered a horticultural museum. Its horticultural attractions are the following:

  • Rose garden (with more than 10,000 rose bushes), 
  • Rock garden (with sculptured vertical walls), 
  • English lawn with its fountain and water jets.
  • Mediterranean garden with lemon trees.
  • Japanese gardens.
  • Chinese gardens.

5. The German Pavilion in Montjuic

The Pavelló Alemany is a little showcase built by Mies van der Rohe (also known for designing the famed Barcelona Chair) for the 1929 International Fair. It is a remarkable example of modern architecture. After that, it was disassembled. Then it was reconstructed from the ground up.

This tranquil pavilion may not appear to be noteworthy to the average viewer. Still, it is a source of fascination to architecture enthusiasts who recognize a cutting-edge structure when they see one.

6. Plaça España

Plaça España stands as a lively intersection between the sprawling city and the serene Montjuic Mountain, offering a plethora of experiences, from the mesmerizing lights of the Font Magica to the lively events reminiscent of the World Fair. 

This isn’t merely a square; it’s a symphony of culture, history, and modernity, where every step echoes with tales from a vibrant past and whispers of the present. 

Whether it be through artistic displays, cultural exhibitions, or simply through strolls under the Spanish sky, Plaça España promises a mélange of experiences, each one a unique story waiting to be discovered and cherished.

7. Montjuïc Cemetery

Perched on Montjuic Mountain, the Montjuïc Cemetery tells myriad stories, not just of the souls interred here but of Barcelona itself. The tranquil sea forms a serene backdrop to this resting place, where histories, from the everyday citizen to notable figures like Lluís Companys, are etched into the stones and sculptures that dot the landscape. 

A walk through the cemetery isn’t just a contemplative journey; it’s a passage through time, where every monument holds tales of aspirations, achievements, and timeless memories. 

Here, against a backdrop of calm seas and under the watchful guard of Montjuic Mountain, visitors can embark on a unique exploration, where tales of the city’s past whisper through the silent corridors of remembrance.

8. Poble Espanyol

Enveloped by the verdant beauty of Montjuïc Park on Montjuic Mountain, Poble Espanyol is a vibrant microcosm of Spanish culture. Initially conceptualized for the Barcelona International Exposition, it has persevered beyond its initial purpose, evolving into a lively hub where the various cultures of Spain converge in a splendid display of craftsmanship, gastronomy, and festivities. 

The intricate workshops and spaces within Poble Espanyol curate an immersive exploration, allowing visitors to traverse Spain’s rich cultural landscapes without ever leaving Barcelona. 

Here, amid the rustic walls and cobblestone streets, one can savor Spain in its entirety, each region represented, each tradition cherished and displayed with pride.

How to get to Montjuic?

Getting to Montjuic might be an obstacle worth tackling for those who want to visit more than just its sprawl. To avoid any unpleasant surprises on your trip to Montjuic, here are three options for transportation:

Montjuic Funicular

Montjuic Funicular

The first option is to take the Montjuic funicular train, which departs from the Paral-lel metro station and takes you to the side of the mountain where the castle is located, putting you within walking distance of the fortress, the Olympic Ring, and the Joan Miro Foundation.

Montjuic Cable Car

Montjuic Cable Car

The second option is to take the metro to Plaça Espanya, which puts you off at the Magic Fountain and the National Museum of Catalan Art.

Here are the prices for 2021:


1-Way Ticket: €8.90 

2-Way Ticket: €13.50

Kids (4 to 12 years)

1-Way Ticket: €7.10

2-Way Ticket: €9.70

Below 4 years old

1-Way Ticket: free

2-Way Ticket: free

If you use the funicular to go to the castle, the teleferic (cable car) will give you that boost if you want to make it fast to the top of the hill.

Tourist bus

The tourist bus is convenient for individuals who want to see a lot in a short amount of time because the sites are spread very far apart.

The red route of Barcelona’s Tourist Bus has seven stops on Montjuic, including Caixa Forum / Mies Van Der Rohe Pavilion, Poble Espanyol, MNAC, Olympic Ring, Joan Miro Foundation, Teleferic de Montjuic (Cable Car), and Miramar Jardins Costa i Llobera. You can get to all the sights on our list by bus, except for the cemetery. To go to the castle, you need to get out at the “Teleferic” stop and ride the cable car or hike up. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Did you know?

One fascinating fun fact about touring Montjuïc Castle is that during its long history, it has served as not only a military fortress but also as a prison. One of its most famous prisoners was the anarchist Salvador Puig Antich, who was executed by garrote in the castle in 1974. This historical aspect adds depth and intrigue to the castle’s story and makes the tour even more captivating for history enthusiasts.

Bottom Line

Montjuic Mountain has so much to offer that we barely scraped the surface. It’s worth spending a little extra time researching since you never know what you’ll find! 

We hope this article has shown you that there’s a lot more to Montjuic Mountain than what meets the eye and that you’ll be able to make it out and explore this fantastic place and all of its attractions again and again! Check out the Barcelona guides below for some tips on how to see the city’s best side.

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