What was the Montjuïc Fun fair for over 30 years is now a large green space covered with abundant and very Mediterranean vegetation. The Joan Brossa Gardens invite you to stroll, rest and play. It is well worth going to spend a day of relaxation, surrounded by natural and dense landscape, with both sunny and shady areas, and magnificent views of Barcelona.
The Gardens of Joan Brossa are an excellent example of landscape and environmental recovery of a space through the consolidation of the pre-existing plant landscape and the reinforcement of the natural appearance with a wild touch.
Halfway between a forest park and a city garden, the Gardens of Joan Brossa have characteristics of both, especially those typical of a forest. The spontaneous nature appearance of the gardens is more pronounced at the bottom, where these features are intensified due to the dense vegetation. A raised, wood footbridge enters the forest, letting you gaze down upon it as if you were on a balcony.
Both the topography and the pre-existing vegetation in itself comprises a very attractive landscape. Despite the change in altitude, the gardens are easy to access. This is possible thanks to two ramps that connect the main route. Only in some corners, half hidden among the trees, are sections of the stone staircases still present from the former fun fair, with stone benches inlaid into the wall of the slope. At the top area of the former theatre, there is a viewpoint with concrete stands that is easily accessed by a ramp.
Its location has converted the Gardens of Joan Brossa into a connection point between the different gardens in the Park of Montjuïc. Just above, a bit lower than the castle of Montjuïc, is the Mayor's Viewpoint and the route that crosses through the garden running from east to west allows direct access to the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Gardens, beyond which you will find the Garden of Petra Kelly - Viver Tres Pins and the Barcelona Botanical Gardens.
The recreational, childish and leisure nature of the former fun fair continues to flaunt its presence in these gardens. There are three play areas in which elements have been installed for all ages, some of them very original.
Team fun is represented by a game of sand and water that brings to mind the miners who had 'gold fever'. Located next to the access that connects to the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Gardens, you need several kids to play this game: some of them pumping the water and others carting the earth to trays, where the two elements are mixed.
Music is also a very important recreation factor. On the path that crosses the park, there are 'musical cushions' that emit sounds when you step on them. And in one of the play areas for younger children, there are two wood structures: a type of organ and a see-saw / keyboard, which lets them experiment with sounds.
And for kids who want to climb, there is also an area with zip lines and climbing games.
To finish off the day
Despite not belonging to the Gardens of Joan Brossa, right above there is an immense esplanade with a bar and several picnic tables. You reach it through a small access at the top of the gardens. Several enormous plane trees provide shade to parts of the esplanade. And above that there is yet another esplanade, equally large or even bigger. These are the lands that belonged to the former fun fair.
After strolling through the gardens and playing, these esplanades are the ideal place to finish off a free day exploring with your family. They are so big that you can play ball games without bothering anybody or let your dog romp around. If we respect those sharing the space with us, there is more than enough space for everybody.
The vegetation at the Gardens of Joan Brossa is extremely varied. A large part was planted when the fun fair was constructed. There are little living carpets of perennials and grasses, of very different species, which provide continuity to the routes in the gardens, trees, enormous palms and large masses of bushes.
These gardens are rich with conifers, such as cedars, pines and cypresses. Some of the species you can see in these gardens -some quite infrequent in Barcelona- are the atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica and Cedrus atlantica glauca), Himalayan deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara), the Lebanese cedar (Cedrus libani), Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis), Monterrey pine (Pinus radiata), Himalayan pine (Pinus wallichiana), maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), cypress (Cupressus sempervires), the smooth-barked Arizona cypress (Cupressus glabra) and the Monterrey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa and the 'golden' Cupressus macrocarpa).
There are symbolic Mediterranean trees like the olive (Olea europaea), Holm oak (Quercus ilex) and tamarisk (Tamarix gallica) and others with gorgeous ornamental flowers like the mimosa (Acacia dealbata), the pagoda tree (Sophora japonica), magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and acacias (Robinia pseudoacacia, 'pyramidalis' Robinia pseudoacacia and the 'umbraculifera' Robinia pseudoacacia).
With respect to palm trees, they are represented by large California fan palms (Washingtonia filifera and Washingtonia robusta), windmill palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) and Mediterranean fan palms (Chamaerops humilis).
Art and Architecture
In this green space, art is also represented through poetry and sculpture. Following the tradition of dedicating the gardens of Montjuïc to Catalan poets -started at the end of the 1970s with the gardens of Joan Maragall, Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer and Mossèn Costa i Llobera- the name of these gardens is a homage to the poet Joan Brossa. At the main entry, in the Plaza Dante, there is a plaque inscribed with his poem Harp Music: 'Ocell: / crec que és millor que obris els ulls/ i fugis de la meva espatllahttp://www.bcn.es/vignette/parcs_i_jardins/en/ Aprofita avui per a creuar extensions marines/ i encendre't d'estrelles.' 'Bird: I think it is better if you open your eyes / and flee from my back / Take advantage of today to cross the seas / and be illuminated by the stars.' Inside the gardens there is a visual poem by this same author.
With regard to sculptures, four have been kept from the former fun fair: The Clown (El Pallasso) by Joaquim Ros i Sabaté (1972), which reproduces the character of Charlie Rivel raising his famous chair; To Carmen Amaya by Josep Cañas (1966), in homage to this Barcelonan Flamenco dancer; Charlot by Núria Tortras (1972), with Charlie Chaplin on a world globe; and To Joaquim Blume by Nicolau Ortiz (1966), where a gymnast does exercises on the rings with the Olympic rings in the background.
The Damm kiosk and the Parasol
These are the two buildings that have been maintained out of those that were constructed in the former fun fair, the majority to be employed as bars or restaurants, with very original designs. Both of them were designed by architects Lluís Riudor i Carol and Antoni M. Riera Clavillé and built in 1965.
The Damm kiosk, the bar-restaurant by this beer company, quickly became the most popular and symbolic of all the buildings at the fun fair. Built in concrete, it has a circular structure with pillars that support a large roof with a Catalan vault. It was a restaurant and presently welcomes celebrations and conventions. In the middle of the top part, the stained glass windows have been preserved that were created in 1965 by specialised architect and decorator Joan Miras.
The Parasol building -the Fanta Bar at the fun fair- is also constructed from concrete, with an unusual design in the shape of a parasol. As a decorative element in the present gardens, it has kept its basic structure: a platform comprised of five surface areas that converge at the centre and are supported by a single pillar. In other words, it is an immense parasol that is a godsend on hot summer days.
The former gunpowder magazine
Integrated into the park, it still maintains its main façade from the network of tunnels and storage chambers of the former Álvarez Castro gunpowder magazine. It is a side wall that is one metre wide and some seven metres high, which became an attraction during the years that the fun fair was operating: the Tunnel of Terror. A little train went in and out of the openings in the façade of the former gunpowder magazine, driving around inside the galleries.
The Gardens of Joan Brossa encompass a large part of the lands that were occupied by the former Montjuïc Fun Fair for 32 years, created by Venezuelan entrepreneur José Antonio Borges Villegas. Between 1930 and 1936, there was already another fun fair at the top part of these lands: the Maricel.
Before the Montjuïc Fun Fair was built, between 1898 and 1965, this area of the mountain had a military use: the location of the Álvarez Castro battery detachment for defending the coast. It was constructed by the Ministry of War during the Cuban War.
In 1965 the Barcelona City Council asked the army for the lands and in 1965 the military installations were demolished. The creation of the fun fair involved the knocking down of the barracks that had been built, despite the military installations, after the Spanish Civil War.
The Montjuïc Fun Fair was opened in 1966 and had its apogee of maximum splendour during the 1980s, featuring over thirty attractions and an open-air amphitheatre where concerts by the most famous singers and groups of that period were held in the summers.
At the end of the following decade its decline began and, furthermore, the municipal concession ended for the usage of the lands. Proposals for a new concession did not bear fruits and, in 1998, the Montjuïc Fun Fair closed its doors. In 2000, the Barcelona City Council decided to construct the present-day public gardens, which let them arrange and renovate a good part of the highest zone of the mountain of Montjuïc.
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