Jardins de Joan Maragall

Neo-classical sculpture and columns at the Jardins de Joan Maragall on Montjuïc, Barcelona

This lovely formal garden on Montjuïc contains the official residence of the Spanish royal family, which explains why it is seldom open – you can only visit between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm on weekends or public holidays.

The royal pavilion, or Palauet Albéniz, was built for the 1929 International Exposition, and the gardens surrounding it were designed at the same time by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier.

The gardens were extended in 1970 and named after the Catalan poet Joan Maragall. They are now home to 32 sculptures dating from the 1950s to 1970, along with the original neoclassical details.

The fountains, sculptures, and tree-lined pathways are a big draw, but for me it is the serenity. You seldom have to share the park with more than a handful of other people.

Lovely.

Open: Saturdays, Sundays, Public Holidays 10am – 3pm

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CaixaForum

Housed in a fascinating modernista factory across the road from the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, CaixaForum is now a gallery owned by La Caixa bank. CaixaForum offers touring exhibitions (some better curated than others), and entrance prices that are hard to resist – the better ones will set you back around €5. It’s an excellent almost-off-the-tourist-map choice.

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Jardí Botànic de Barcelona

The new botanic gardens take visitors through a range of habitats

Possibly you’re not visiting Barcelona to discover the native habitats of Australia, Chile, the Canary Islands, or South Africa, but the Jardí Botànic de Barcelona does it for you in some style. There is a theme that may not be immediately obvious: all these locations have a ‘Mediterranean-type climate’.

You do get to explore some vegetation native to the Mediterranean, however, and helpful signage along the way means you may learn something in the process.

Views over the Olympic buildings are a bonus.

Plants endemic to the Canary Islands at the Jardí Botànic de Barcelona

Entry is a reasonable €3.50, though the first Sunday of the month and Sundays after 3:00pm entry is free.

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