Barcelona is a great city with children. One of the best bits is the park in the centre, Parc de la Ciutedella. The park is pretty large (74 acres) and has plenty of walks, playgrounds, a zoo, a little lake with rowboats etc.
We spent some time just hanging out in the grass people-watching. Last time Mr. N was at this park he told us he saw a hapless Japanese groom overturn a rowboat and dunk his bride into the water in full wedding attire. The children were looking for something equally exciting to happen on this trip but nobody obliged.
This guy and his friends were practicing their circus skills – juggling and tight-rope walking. Could that be more ready-made entertainment for the children?
The lake in the middle has little rowboats for hire. Mr. N did us proud rowing like a champion with no help from us. The children don’t believe in manual labour and I was too busy taking photographs.
We skipped the museums in the park because technically we were on a museum-free afternoon. There is the Natural History Museum of Barcelona including the Martorell Museum and the Botanical Gardens. The Martorell Museum was founded in the late 18th Century when a naturalist, Francesc Martorell y Pena, donated his sizeable collection to create what was Barcelona’s first public museum. Surprisingly for Barcelona with all of its modernist architecture, the Martorell stands out for being a neo-classical structure.
The Parc de la Ciutadella has an interesting history. The area was built as an actual citadel in the 18th century after Philip V of Spain conquered Barcelona after a long, protracted battle. Designed to stop the Catalans from rebelling again, the building was actually Europe’s largest fortress at the time. A neighbourhood was cleared to make room for this fortress. The neighbourhood’s former inhabitants were not only made homeless but also made to work on building the citadel. Needless to say the citadel was hated by the people of Barcelona. Most of the citadel was demolished in the mid to late 19th century with only a few buildings remaining, including the old arsenal that currently houses the Catalan Parliament. The transformation was complete when the area was turned into an urban park as part of the 1888 World Fair opened by King Alfonso XVIII.
If you are in Barcelona, this charming park is worth a stroll through to recharge your batteries and watch the locals at play. You will be sightseeing without even knowing it!