Looming over Barcelona city center from the 170-meter summit of Montjuïc Mountain, the forbidding Montjuïc Castle, or Castell de Montjuïc, adds a dramatic silhouette to the city skyline. Reachable via cable car from the Montjuic Funicular station, the 17th-century fortress is most popular as a lookout point and the Cami del Mar walking track affords spectacular panoramic views over the city, the distant mountains and along the Mediterranean coast.
Behind the castle’s majestic façade lies a grim and gruesome history, used mostly during the late 19th and 20th centuries to house and execute political prisoners. Anarchists, fascists and Republicans have all met their maker within these walls, most famously Lluis Companys, the President of Catalunya who was executed here by firing squad in 1940. The somber unmarked tombstones in the castle grounds offer a reminder of the castle’s sordid past, but with plans underway to transform the building, which once housed a military history, into a museum of international peace, the fortress’s future looks set to be more positive.
Be sure to take a walk around the palace gardens while you’re there, adorned with famous sculptures like Pau Gargallo’s ‘La Pomona’ and Josep Clarà’s ‘La Fertilitat’, then walk across the ancient drawbridge and climb the stone stairs to the castle’s roof top viewing terrace.