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Gardens of Barcelona Noel Morata - Spring 2011

Beautiful Barcelona - so many beautiful gardens, old and new can be discovered in this amazing city. There are many wonderful green spaces in this bustling metropolis - to relax, take a walk and enjoy the parks, gardens and public squares, many having magnificent views of the entire city. Various parks contain landmarks filled with elaborate fountains, museums and grand monuments. It was wonderful to see the amount of creativity and inspiring gardens. Barcelona has so many, and that is a mark of a very progressive city. Part of the fun of seeing a garden for the first time is not having any expectations to how a garden will look like. When you enter each garden for the first time, you are pleasantly surprised by how beautiful and well-cared the gardens are here - especially now at the peak of spring. The Jardins de Mossen Costra i Lljobera surprises you with its exquisite site and plantings. Just recently opened after extensive renovations, it looked like almost everything was blooming that day. Even though this is mostly a mediterranean cactus and succulent garden, many perennial shrubs, ground covers and trees were planted as a complement to add a colorfuo back ground. There are masses of multi-colored bougainvillea, cascades of lantana flowers, aromatic angels trumpets and red trumpet vines in vivid red hues. The perennials add just the right amount of color and texture to make this arid garden sparkle! This is a must see garden for any garden enthusiast to visit when seeing Barcelona.

Lantana flowers with an agave bloom amid washingtonia and canary palms and varied cactus.

Red trumpet vine flowers pop up with color against the blue agave americana.

A panoramic vista of the garden unfolds when you climb down a series of stairs down into this xeric garden. It is a wonderful and easy walk down Montjuic hill from the cable tram station. The garden sits in this narrow ledge and is situated for the southern exposure. Across is a detail of a prickly pear cactus in bloom in the late afternoon .

Park de la Ciutadella in the La Ribera district is a very popular park in central Barcelona. Containing the zoo, the conservatory and geologic museum, the parliament, a large cement mastodon and the grand arch/fountain called La Cascada commemorating the universal exhibition of 1888, Antoni Gaudi was then an architect student and assistant under the chief architect Josep Fontsere when this was built.

A very popular spot for a romantic boat ride around the lake to spend a sunny day lounging around a rowboat

This mastodon is always a popular spot for children to play on or take kitchy photos with a beautiful girl, usually in the same poses.

Beautiful plazas like the Placa Reial in the Gothic District is not a garden per se, but a wonderful old square oozing with charm. A central fountain is the focal point surrounded by ornate buildings of the 19th century. The main courtyard is dotted with canary and Washingtonia palms, balcony gardens and beaux-arts lanterns designed by Gaudi. Its one of Barcelona’s favorite squares and the bars, outdoor restaurants and tapas cafes are busy all day to the late night.

A pleasant day walking outside in many of the beautiful parks up in the Montjuic hill area. There are panoramic views of the entire city from the higher elevations.. You will find the main botanic garden, three museums, the Castle of Montjuic, and a series of intimate to grander gardens. It is always a nice break from the hectic tourist schedule to enjoy the view - to relax and people watch. There are funiculars and cable trams that go all the way up to the castle making it an easier way to visit all the gardens by walking downhill and most lead directly into each other and eventually to the main museums further down the hill.

The Jardin de Laribal next to the Joan Miro museum is a hidden gem tucked into a hillside with beautiful views of the city. Filled with arabian features like a water lily pond, ceramic tiled fountains and seating areas, colorful potted plants and small water rills cascading from one water fountain to another in a series of fountains - so simple and elegant to walk through. Along a sunny backside, a stucco arbor and pergola add a nice place to sit from the hot sun and enjoy this contemplative space.

The large fortress at the top of Montjuic called the Castel was built by the Bourbons in the 18th century, but is resting on an earlier fortress built in the 1600s.

A more intimate garden next to the cable trams are in full bloom with purple jacarandas and yellow cassias, offset below with contrasting yellow roses and coreopsis planted en mass and bordered with a formal terrace and sitting are. The clipped hedges and topiary shrubs add a more refined feel that complements the elegant statuary. All around this garden are magnificent views of the entire city below including a view of the Cristopher Columbus monument and the waterfront embarcadero called the Barceloneta.

At the main entrance to park Guell are some mosaic pieces that are the focal points to this garden designed by Antoni Gaudi. A round mosaic medallion with an animal head trickling water through its mouth. A few steps above is the famous lizard guarding the central staircase up to the main terrace. A visit is not complete without a photo with this famous mosaic. The various shades of blue to aqua tiles embellish this animated lizard, a sample of the other whimsical features found all around the park.

Originally designed as a development by Gaudi with his benefactor Guell, the idea didn’t take off with only three homes built. The area was then converted to a Park dedicated to his sponsor. These elevated cement terraces were planned of Gaudi’s development are extensive and fortress like against the array of trees and plants spilling down the sides like a giant container holding up the entire hillside. Part of an ingenious retaining wall that allowed for the upper terraces to contain lush gardens and create flat areas below probably intended for the development that was never completed. Now the entire area and mountainside is dedicated as a park,

Park Guell is a very popular tourist attraction, it is busy at all hours of the day and night. One can’t avoid the crowds here that come to see the wonderful view and Gaudi’s whimisical designs. Tourists will find many picture taking moments like the grand serpent bench in the main plaza, covered cement pavilions, mosaic fountains and ornate stone columns, medalions and fanciful buildings, gates, and grand stairways.

Beautiful plants are inventively transported in this colorful truck. Wonderful mosaics are found everywhere in the city, in public squares and parks, on building facades and benches, fountains and walkways.

The Barri district or gothic section has many secret and balcony gardens in this area filled with many municipal buildings, squares and fountains. The cloisters of the cathedral are a quiet and serene - filled with exquisite fountains, ornate chapels and a whole flock of ducks that refuse to leave this secluded garden.

In a very quiet area of the cathedral, the cloister is serene and a quiet place to be introspective and enjoy the ducks that have been living here for quite some time. Underneath vaulted ceilings of old bricks are alcoved areas with marbled statuary, gilded ironwork, frescoes and elaborate chapels that are an alternative to the dark interiors of the ornate complex. A large fountain above, tucked into a corner is a welcomed rest as water trickles into a huge basin. The delicate ferns sitting on top, wafting with a pleasant wind and the sounds of water trickling make this a pleasant place to rest and enjoy this quiet corner and away from the crowds.

Gracias Barcelona, disfrutamos de la visita! Copyright Š Noel Morata 2011

Gardens of Barcelona  

Come visit some of the public gardens, parks and open spaces around this beautiful city.

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