A big city like Barcelona needs large green areas that connect with nature in order to allow its visitors to forget the urban hustle and bustle for a moment or two. Fortunately, Barcelona has a very extensive network of gardens and urban parks that are closely connected to its history, culture and art.
One of the most popular public parks is Ciutadella, the largest and one of the oldest in Barcelona. On the grounds of the great 1715 citadel, a park has been designed and created with Felipe V's command. This park is based on the 1872 Parisian Luxembourg Gardens. In 1988 it hosted the World Exposition event and in 1892 it was extended to house the Zoo.
It constitutes an oasis of tranquility, with features as outstanding as its surprising waterfall, a navigable pond, a beautiful greenhouse and monuments as attractive as the Castle of the Three Dragons. Admirable and centuries-old plant species and multiple kinds of birds as well as statues as popular as the life-size stone mammoth are some of its great attractions.
Photo: Park Güell by iStockPhoto/Getty
The quite modern Central de Nou Barris Park is the second largest in Barcelona. Its design prioritises sustainability by giving prominence to greenery and water. This park is home to more than 1,500 trees from more than 30 species. The ornamental fountains are abundant and there is also a unique palm grove that's one of a kind in the city. Among its historical features, the presence of one of the aqueducts that served water to Barcelona during the 19th century stands out the most.
Diagonal Mar is another one of those large urban green spaces that deserves sustainable development. Its huge seven zones are ideal to explore by bicycle but they are all unified by the same theme - water. The park is designed in a way so that it flows through hills of grass and ends up connecting with the sea.
The most famous of all Barcelona's parks has to be the iconic Güell Park. This is true if we just take into account the "bare mountain" area, which is distinguished by the great Gaudí and offers unforgettable sites, such as the dragon's staircase, or the covered plaza known as Sala Hipóstila. But, as a park it is much more than that, because it has a large forest full of trees and birds, with picnic areas and playgrounds.
Another park with a historical touch is Laberinto de Horta, which was designed in 1792. Its name is due to the popular plants labyrinth and cypresses. It is a romantic garden full of flower beds, majestic trees and features such as a waterfall and an old house from the 14th century, the Sovereign Tower, redecorated during the 19th century in an arabesque style.