Barcelona is a fairly leafy city, but every major metropolis needs a place to listen to birdsong, breathe clean air and drink in the... more » scent of eucalyptus, oak or pine. In the Catalan capital that role is admirably discharged by Montjuïc, the one-time Hill of the Jews.
There are beautifully landscaped gardens, sprinkled with interesting statues, to discover, sun-dappled foothpaths to wander and miradors to take in the views. But it's not all pastoral idyll. It's also a major cultural hub, with two world-class museums (and a number of others)to add a little artistic and educational balm to the soul. You can recharge your intellectual batteries here, too.
The last century saw two global events take place here - a World's Fair or 'Universal Exposition' in 1929, and 1992's Olympic Games. Their legacy buildings enrich your visit, whether it's the grandiose faux-Renaissance palace that now houses a thousand years of art in the National Art Museum, the vast between-the-wars stadium that was reinvented for the 1992 event, or Mies van der Rohe's German Pavilion from the 1929 Fair, recreated on its original site in the 1980s, still startlingly modern,and alarmingly tasteful.
There's a vibrancy about the place. Even as you meander through the beguilingly restful Laribal Gardens you are just moments from the deliciously bold and life-affirming art of Joan Miró, while the 'Olympic Ring' teams the stadium's conventional form with the sleek elegance of Santiago Calatrava's communications tower and Aiko Miyawaki's playful installations.
And around the weekend, should you choose, you can end your day with a bit of communal frivolity as you bag your vantage point for the kitsch but capitivating Font Mágica. Thomas Mann's 'Magic Mountain' was never this much fun! less «