Today was our last day in Spain and I woke up a bit sad knowing this. We had a really busy morning planned, so we grabbed a few bites to eat at breakfast and the four of us got into a taxi that took us to the top of the hill to Castell de Montjuïc.
I would like to mention that our plan was to have a taxi drive us from here to our next destination once we were finished but upon being dropped off I couldn’t help but make the comment that I don’t think any taxi’s will be waiting up here to pick anyone up. I believe Mom didn’t quite believe me yet. She was pretty sure we would be able to get a taxi.
We showed up a little early so we explored some of the grounds that were accessible.
Castell de Montjuïc is a large eighteenth-century fortress that was built by the Bourbons on the remains of a fort dating back to 1640. The castle has been used to watch over the city and as a political prison and killing ground. Anarchists were executed here around the end of the 19th century, fascists during the civil war and Republicans after it – most notoriously Lluís Companys in 1940.
From up here there are amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea and Sissy and I had fun taking some silly pictures. We were imaging being important royals.
We finally got to enter the castle and walk around inside. The castle has permanent and temporary exhibitions devoted to the history of both the castle and the hill.
A lot of the rooms were empty and unfortunately, the exhibits were very scarce. I wouldn’t say it was worth coming all the way to the top of the hill to explore the castle, but I would definitely say it was worth it for the views and the castle grounds.
They did have a tombstone that dated from 1306 that had been here when it used to be a cemetery.
When we finished walking around and we were ready to head down the hill to our next destination, as I predicted earlier, there wasn’t any taxis hanging around up here. We decided to start walking the down the hill and see if any taxis happened by.
When we got a little ways down, we saw the funicular that could have taken us down the hill but for some reason I was feeling too chicken. I later grew to regret that feeling, my feet had some words with me later that night.
We came to a park area that had a little snack stand where Sissy ran over to buy some water and snacks and we took the opportunity to snap a few photos. From this vantage point it seemed like we could see the whole city, including La Sagrada Familia.
While we were waiting for Sissy, the bus pulled up that was heading down the hill, and I was like this is perfect, lets jump on the bus. The only problem was that Sissy was still too far away for us to make it onto the bus, so I looked at the bus schedule and it said it would be another twenty minutes before the next bus came by but Mom didn’t want to wait. Thinking it would be quicker to walk down the hill ourselves and get a taxi at the bottom of the hill, we trekked on.
Twenty minutes later and some sore toes from walking down hill, we got to the bottom of the hill, but guess what, no available taxis.
Marion pulled up our next destination on his trusty phone and it didn’t look like too far of a walk, so we decided to just keep trekking.
Forty minutes later, hot and thirsty, we finally arrived at the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia.
We were so relived to be inside with air conditioning that we all just sat down for a few minutes to catch our breath. We had walked a lot more than we had anticipated.
The Archaeology Museum of Catalonia is housed in what was the Graphic Arts palace during the 1929 World Exhibition and covers Catalonia and cultures from elsewhere in Spain. Items range from copies of pre-Neanderthal skulls to lovely Carthaginian necklaces and jewel-studded Visigothic crosses.
This was a neat museum that if I had had more time in, I probably would have been able to enjoy more. At this point I was just excited to be out of the humidity and heat.
Sissy and I finished up walking around long before the kids did and Sissy and I, knowing that there was a 2nd floor to the museum, decided to make sure not to mention it to the kids. I know it wasn’t nice of us but we were kinda ready to move on. Sorry Mom and Marion, please forgive us.
Our next place was supposed to be close by, so we walked. Which wasn’t bad until we came upon this.
We had already walked up and down so many stairs that all I could do was give these stairs an evil look and this wasn’t even a third of the stairs we needed to go up, but thankfully, someone was smart enough to put in an escalator. I love the person who came up with that idea.
The top of the hill is where the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is and you can see how many stairs there were when you looked down.
Not to ruin the view from the front of the building, they hid the escalators on the side of the building. We did walk down when were finished, which wasn’t as bad as walking up.
This imposing building was built for the 1929 World Exhibition and houses a vast collection of mostly Catalan art spanning the early Middle Ages to the early 20th century. The high point is the collection of extraordinary Romanesque frescoes.
The inside of the museum is gorgeous. It’s always fascinated me how much detail went into the buildings that were created for World Exhibition’s and Fairs back in the day.
They had some really cool lamp posts inside. I have a bit of a obsession with lamp posts and clock towers.
The Museum’s Romanesque art section is considered the most important concentration of early medieval art in the world. Rescued from neglected country churches across northern Catalonia in the early 20th century, the collection consists of 21 frescoes, woodcarvings and painted altar frontals (low-relief wooden panels that were the forerunners of the elaborate altarpieces that adorned later churches).
One of the most striking frescoes is Christ in Majesty which was done around 1123. Based on the text of the Apocalypse, Christ is enthroned on a rainbow with the world at his feet. He holds a book open with the words Ego Sum Lux Mundi (I am the Light of the World) and is surrounded by the four Evangelists.
The museum’s Gothic art collection is equally impressive with an unparalleled collection of religious wooden painted panels from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. Most of the pieces are from the Catalan and Valencian schools, which were influenced by Gothic art from Italy and France.
Moving on they have a collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings from many of Europe’s most important painters from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some of the most famous names include Rubens, Titian, Velázquez and Francisco de Zurbarán.
On the top floor, the collection turns to modern art. The collection is arranged thematically: Modernisme, Noucentisme, Art and the Civil War and so on. Among the many highlights: an early Salvador Dalí painting (Portrait of My Father), Juan Gris’ collage-like paintings, the brilliant portraits of Marià Fortuny, and 1930s call-to-arms posters against the Francoist onslaught (nearby you’ll find photos of soldiers and bombed-out city centres). There are also many works by Modernista painters Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol, as well as Catalan luminary Antoni Tàpies.
I think at this point Sissy was feeling a little tuckered out.
Leaving the museum we stopped to admire the view and take a few photos of the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc that was right at the bottom of the stairs.
At night the fountain is lit up with a spectacular display of color, light, motion, music, and water acrobatics.
Unfortunately, we weren’t going to be sticking around until it got dark. We were pretty hungry and our tummies needed some food after all of this walking we had done.
Thankfully, our last stop of the day was the Spanish Village where they were going to have lots of food options.
The Spanish Village was another section that was built for the 1929 World Exhibition. This is mainly an open air museum that shows replicas of houses from all regions of Spain, Andalucía to Balearic Islands, and of course from Catalonia.
There are 117 buildings that include 17 restaurants, cafes and bars, and 20 craft shops and workshops, as well as souvenir shops.
The entrance is beneath a towered medieval gate from Ávila.
We pretty much choose the first restaurant we came across and scarfed down our food. It wasn’t the best we had had during our trip here but it was decent and it filled our bellies.
After lunch we explored all the shops and bought some handmade jewelry and local items. It seemed to be pretty quiet there but we were closer to late afternoon, so maybe that was why.
I did really enjoy the village, I loved that everything was made locally or somewhere in Spain.
Once we finished looking around and buying everything, we were able to finally hail down a taxi and headed back to our hotel.
We left our bags in our rooms, situated Marion at one of the outside tables, and us girls left to walk around and do some last minute shopping.
The streets were pretty busy but it was so much fun to see what kind of shops we would find around every corner.
Eventually, though it was time to turn in and start packing. As you can see Sissy and I had quite a challenge on figuring out where we were going to put everything.
I can’t believe our trip had finally come to an end. I had been planning for this trip so long and I am so grateful I got to share this experience with my family.
I’m looking forward to planning our next trip together.
Stay tuned to whereever my travels takes me next.