This past Saturday, after a fairly relaxing morning, Joe and I casually embarked upon what would become an epic hike up (and back down) Montjuïc, one of Barcelona’s many (sometimes steep) hills.
We had unknowingly driven by the little mountain on our way into the city from the airport, when we had noticed a massive, terraced cemetery full of innumerable markers covering much of one side of the hill. We resolved to figure out what it was once we were settled, and soon learned that this was the hill of Montjuïc, home to a massive fort among other things (and one of Joe’s coworkers recommended that we hike up to the “castle on the hill,” which sounded fun).
When Joe and I began our journey up to the top – on foot – we didn’t fully understand the scope, incline, and complete layout of the hill.
As we hiked up surrounded by lush vegetation, the sun shining brightly on our bare heads and faces, we were blissfully unaware of the number of vertical feet still remaining to be climbed. We passed multitudes of purple flowers, bright green trees and bushes, and tall, well-built stone walls. Partway up, we emerged onto a well-maintained plaza containing elaborate gardens, a luxury hotel, and two chic restaurants clinging to the cliff-like, shored-up edges of the hill. Images of sipping cava and nibbling seafood tapas while gazing out across the harbor danced in front of my eyes. That fantasy would have to wait.
Onwards and upwards we pushed, under beautiful canopies of sycamore trees and past stone walls teeming with verdant ivy. We huffed and puffed past more ornate botanical gardens (there are several official gardens on Montjuïc, as it turns out), fountains, over pathways paved in stones, gears and the bottoms of glass bottles, and finally caught sight of the castle.
We were stunned by the size of its massive walls and vast expanses of parade and marshaling grounds that stretched out on the upper and inner levels. The entire structure was not visible all at once, but rather we had to keep turning this way and that to take it all in. Originally built in the 17th century, and augmented in the 18th, the Castell de Montjuïc served multiple purposes throughout many wars and skirmishes. Read more about it here – history is cool. 🙂
After conquering the hill (and trying not to pass out from dehydration – this was a rare occasion that found us sans water bottles) we expectantly bounded back down, fueled by thoughts of crisp, refreshing bubbles, cool breezes and much-needed sustenance. Our plans were foiled, however, as one café had just closed and the other was inexplicably “full” – despite several empty tables beckoning to me across full plates and half-empty wine glasses. However, we summoned the strength to take ourselves back down the mountain to the comfort of our little neighborhood and some tasty Greek food in a small plaza warmed by the afternoon sun.
**The beginning of our walk brought us by walls and walls of incredible graffiti, like the featured image at the top – all lining a lovely little park. Amazing street art!