Although the collection at the city's museum is interesting enough, most people head up here for the views. Perched on the sea-facing side of Montjuïc, this fortress (Castell de Montjuïc) dates back to 1640 and was rebuilt and extended during the mid-1800s. Its gloomy cells served as a military prison during the Civil War, earning it an indifferent, if not hostile, reputation among the people of Barcelona. While there have been noises from the local government about changing the focus of the museum to a more peaceful and reflective tone, it remains pretty much the same as when it was opened, shortly after the army moved out in 1960.
The collection itself contains the usual assortment of paintings marking military events as well as dozens of rooms of armor, uniforms, weapons, and the instruments of war. One of the more entertaining exhibits (Room 8) contains thousands of miniatures forming a Spanish division, which first went on show during the 1929 World's Fair.
The terraces and highest points of the star-shaped fortress-castle, and the walkways that surround it, offer some breathtaking views of the Barcelona skyline and Mediterranean. The parkland around the castle is currently being dug up to make it more accessible and easier to walk around. If you don't mind an uphill stroll, note that the most spectacular way to get here is via the port-crossing cable car . On the walk from the drop-off point, you will pass the famous statue of La Sardana, the traditional Catalan dance, which is featured on many postcards of the city. Otherwise, grab the funicular from Paral.lel Metro station, which drops you off pretty much at the door.
- © Frommer's 2013
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