In Marca Hispanica XXVII: a bigger castle than usual

On my third day in Barcelona in December 2013, I had started with big plans to sit in the Biblioteca de Catalunya all day and read stuff by Albert Benet i Clarà I can’t get in the UK, but was thwarted by it being a public holiday. I don’t remember what I did instead for the morning; I have a nasty feeling it was working up teaching materials.

View from the Residència d'Investigadors over the Hospital del Carme, Barcelona

At least the view from the Residència d’Investigadors is nice…

Later in the day, however, a friend of the estimable Amy Brown was in town and she had managed to get us in contact, so we met up for lunch, which in Catalonia can take a while, and then opted with what little time I had before my flight that evening to try and do one thing I had yet to do in the city, which is visit the Castell de Montjuïc. This is not quite the regular two-towers ruin I try and scramble up, however.

Glacis down one side of the Castell

Glacis down one side of the Castell

It’s another climbing job to get up here, and since I hadn’t been able to do the cable-car thing yesterday I made sure of it today, but there is also a funicular railway even if, as is less true for Montserrat, it’s also perfectly easy to get a bus. It’s not as high as Montserrat, obviously, but the views are still impressive.

City-scape of Barcelona from halfway up the hill of Montjuïc

There is quite a lot on top of the hill. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is about halfway up, for a start, and some day I will get there. Actually at the summit there is an army museum, and of course the castle itself, which as it stands dates to the seventeenth century, though I feel sure there must have been something fortified up here before. This one has seen quite a lot of action and has also had a kind of Tower of London role as a site of executions, though sadly for Barcelona mostly more recently than the Tower. Because of such loading, perhaps, when it became a municipal property in 2008 a mock invasion by 40,000 Barcelonans was staged to inaugurate the occasion, or so at least says its website.

Bastions of the Castell de Montjuïc, Barcelona


Even getting in turned out to be quite a trek (not helped by us automatically walking the wrong way on getting pff the cablecar), but while looking for the entrance, we found this slightly inexplicable piece of modernity.

Cycling practice park outside walls of Castell de Montjuïc, Barcelona

This appears to be a practice park for junior cyclists, which is fine, except why do you put this on top of a hill which can be reached by cable-car and where there’s almost no parking? They obviously can’t ride up here yet…

And with the light so low, our journey so protracted and time so short, in the end, the entrance was as far in as we got.

Entrance gateway to the Castell de Montjuïc

So, the Castell remains unbreached, at least by me. Some future time when there’s time and daylight…

Flag at a corner of the Castell de Montjuïc, Barcelona, with the evening moon above

Moon and flag, both defiant

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