The mountain of Tibidabo has been a popular retreat for Barcelonese since 1868, when a road was built connecting it to the city. You arrive there on the creaky old funicular -- or less dramatically by bus -- to find yourself confronted by an amusement park that combines tradition with modernity. In summer, the place takes on a carnival-like atmosphere, and most of the credit for this can go to a wealthy pill manufacturer by the name of Dr. Andreu who believed (quite sensibly) that fresh, mountain air was good for your health. He created the Sociedad Anónima de Tibidabo, which promoted the slopes as a public garden and was instrumental in installing both the blue tram and aforementioned funicular which get you there. Some of the attractions in the park date back from Andreu's time. L'Avio, for example, is a quaint replica of the first plane that served the Barcelona-Madrid route. In the Tibidabo version, you are treated to a whisk over the summit in a toy-like craft suspended from a central axis. Another dated attraction designed to scare you out of your wits is Aeromàgic, an exhilarating mountain ride which is greatly enhanced by the elevated position of the park itself. On a more relaxed level you can also visit a charming museum of period automatons.
The church next to the amusement park is Temple de Sagrat Cor, an ugly and highly kitschy building dating from 1902 that was meant to provide Barcelona with its own Sacré Coeur. Its distinctive mountaintop silhouette can be seen from all over the city.
- © Frommer's 2013
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