Felipe V, having won the city on 11th September 1714 and then the war of succession, built a large military base there in 1715. In order to have enough space, they knocked down the city’s southern walls, and more than a thousand houses in La Ribera neighbourhood.
Almost a century and a half afterwards in 1869, General Prim, wanting to gain the support of Barcelona’s industrial bourgeoisie, gave the park to the city on condition that it be made a park. A statue of Prim is now in the park.
The Parc de la Ciutadella has loomed large in the city’s history. Its land was once occupied by the city’s militia, until this very necessary green space was ordered. Designed by Josep Fontseré, it was transformed for the Universal Exposition of 1888, and later to accommodate the zoo.
The park has an eclectic design: a section with sinuous, naturalistic lines is juxtaposed with a more classical design, geometric and regular. Highlights include the monumental waterfall, a boating lake, and a pagoda.
The park has a wide range of plant life, many examples of which were planted at the end of the 19th century. Many of the trees, palms and bushes are labelled so visitors can identify the main species – or the exotic ones, which are well represented.
The park, which was declared a monument of historical/artistic interest in 1951, is considered an open air museum of sculpture, with works by Frederic Marès, Eusebi Arnau, Josep Clarà, Josep Llimona, Pau Gargallo and Manuel Fuxà, among others.
Traces of the old military base remain – the chapel, the governor’s palace (later occupied by the IES Verdaguer school) and the city’s arsenal, now the home of Catalonia’s parliament.
Places to visit inside the park: