Lonely Planet review
This forbidding castell (castle or fort) dominates the southeastern heights of Montjuïc and enjoys commanding views over the Mediterranean. It dates, in its present form, from the late 17th and 18th centuries. For most of its dark history, it 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. The castle is surrounded by a network of ditches and walls (from which its strategic position over the city and port become clear).
Until 2009 the castle was home to a somewhat fusty old military museum, closed since the Ministry of Defence handed the fortress over to the city after protracted negotiations, although it is currently undergoing renovations and will be used as exhibition space. The artillery that once stood in the central courtyard has been removed, but some of the seaward big guns remain in place.
In 2014 parts of the castle previously closed to the public – such as the tower and the dungeons – were opened, and an entrance fee was applied. A large part of the castle will now function as exhibition space, although the finer details had yet to be ironed out at the time of writing. The current exhibition explains something of the history of the place as well as detailing plans for its future. Perhaps when all this is done, the tombstones (some dating to the 11th century) from the one-time Jewish cemetery on Montjuïc will get a more imaginative exhibition space than the drab room once set aside for them in the military museum.
The views from the castle and the surrounding area looking over the sea, port and city below are the best part of making the trip here. Around the seaward foot of the castle is an airy walking track, the Camí del Mar , which offers breezy views of the city and sea.
From the Jardins del Mirador , opposite the Mirador (Telefèric) station, you have fine views over the port of Barcelona. A little further downhill, the Jardins de Joan Brossa are charming, landscaped gardens on the site of a former amusement park near Plaça de la Sardana . These gardens contain many Mediterranean species, from cypresses to pines and a few palms. There are swings and things, thematic walking trails and some good city views.