PР°rc de la Ciutadella is the biggest green space in the centre of Barcelona, a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. You should come here to have a picnic or for a long stroll, to visit the zoo that is admired both by children and adults, or follow the example of locals who come for a breath of fresh air after a night of heavy partying.
After the War for Spanish Succession, Felipe V demolished a good portion of La Ribera for the sole purpose of building a giant fortress, La Ciutadella there to keep an eye on the freedom-loving Barcelona. It comes as no surprise that nobody in the city liked it, and the fortress came to represent everything the Catalans hated about Madrid and the Bourbons. The fact that soon it had become a political prison did not help much either. It was only in the 1869 that the city got permission to get rid of the grim symbol and lay out a park on its place, in which Barcelona hosted the Universal Exhibition in 1888. The remnants of the wall were found in 2008 while a new sports center was being constructed, and now the architects are working to incorporate the ruins of La Ciutadella into the project.
Рђ splendid fountain "Waterfall" (Cascada) decorates the park entrance from Passeig de Pujades. This creation by Josep FontsГЁre was put into its rightful place between 1875 and 1881 with some help from a young unknown architect Antoni GaudГ. The fountain is a provocatively dramatic mixture of sculpture, falling water, rugged rocks and greenery вЂ“ all of it absolutely fake and totally compelling. To the southeast from the Cascada fountain, the former arsenal of La Ciutadella houses the Parliament of Catalonia. Considered a bad joke by some, this symbol of Catalan identity is open to the public two days a year, and it is worth a visit to see the magnificent "Stairway of Honour" (LвЂ™Escala dвЂ™Honor) and take a look at a semicircular hall in which the actual parliament sits.
From the side facing Passeig de Picasso the park is lined by several buildings constructed for the Universal Exhibition. One of them, the medieval-looking beautiful house, known as The Castle of Three Dragons (Castell dels Tres Dragons), was designed by LluГs DomГЁnech i Montaner and now houses the museum of zoology, which is underwhelming considering that this building marked the beginning of Modernism in Barcelona. To the south, an arboretum "LвЂ™Hivernacle" with a pleasant cafГ©, a geology museum and another arboretum, "LвЂ™Umbracle", is found.
North from the Ciutadella park stands Arc de Triomf, an example of Modernist architecture completed by Josep Vilaseca. The Arc was commissioned for the Universal Exhibition, to which it served as a main entrance, but it is still unclear what kind of triumph it was meant to represent, as the Exhibition was a waste of money for Spain in general and for Barcelona in particular. The Arc is best regarded as a brick-concrete symbol of the 19th century and is best admired for its unusual Oriental-style brickwork. The main reliefs were done by Josep Llimona.