Situated on the sea facing side of the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the Jardins de Can Sentmenat are one of the few remaining testaments in Barcelona to the stately gardens that the Catalan aristocracy created at the end of the 19th century. Exquisitely designed, they are a must see for lovers of classical gardens.
Romantic and influenced by the French, the Jardins de Can Sentmenat have an undeniable symbolic value, as the original structure and variety have been preserved, making them an important living element of information about the Catalan gardens of the time.
In front of the imposing building that was once the home of the Marquis of Sentmenat, there is a large entrance terrace that becomes a small path and stretches between the two ends of the garden. It is adorned with six female life-sized sculptures that were erected under the great cover of large trees.
On both sides of the building the enclosing walls are covered by climbing plants, and beautiful views of Barcelona and the Serra de Collserola mountain range can be enjoyed from anywhere on the terrace. These views together with the sky provide an exceptional backdrop for the gardens.
The parterres de broderie
Beyond the terrace we find great grasslands where very tall palm trees and some large scattered trees shine. The central part of this area of the garden is shaped by a small circular pond surrounded by eight delicately cut parterres de broderie with boxwood balls in the centre. Wooden benches provide a seat on the circular path that surrounds the exquisitely symmetrical arrangement, presided over by four slender hundred-year-old Washingtonia palm trees.
The family garden and the forest
At the rear of the old Sentmenat mansion, two terraces situated on both sides of the building hold the old family garden that was the vegetable garden for the family and the cut flower plantation. The outline of a passageway remains, with a waterfall and a stone pond that dominates the almost 9 hectare wooded area and stretches out towards Collserola. Before entering the woods, a water canal from a mine draws the border between the area of the garden cultivated by humans and the naturalness of the Mediterranean woods.
In this garden the vegetation is exuberant with many trees and hundred-year-old palm trees. Behind the six figures that surround the end of the walkway we find enormous Lime trees (Tilia X europaea) and large Black Locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia). A Japanese Photinia (Photinia glabra) with a 15 m diameter crown and a Goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) stand out for their size and exceptionality. At the west facing end of the garden a large Himalayan Cypress (Cedrus deodara) stands out, as well Yellow Cypresses (Cupresus macrocarpa), Yew trees (Taxus baccata) and Oriental Arborvitaes (Thuja orientalis).
Palms constitute a very important part of the garden and give the garden a strong personality. There are Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis), Date Palms (Phoenix dactylifera), Chinese Fan Palms (Livistona chinensis), Mediterranean Fan Palms (Chamaerops humilis), Chusan Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) and many palms from the Washingtonia genus (Washingtonia robusta and Washingtonia filifera).
Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea sp), Maidenhair Vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Doxantha unguis-cati and Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) climb the walls.
In the woods Aleppo Pines (Pinus halepensis) and Holm Oaks (Quercus ilex), dominate with an exceptional specimen where the path begins to enter. This specimen is just above the water canal and it is estimated that it dates from the late 1870s. Due to its characteristics, it features in the Catalogue of Trees of Local Interest in Barcelona. The scrubland is rich in Strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo), Butcher's Brooms (Ruscus aculeatus), Mediterranean Smilax (Smilax aspera) and Mediterranean Honeysuckles (Lonicera implexa). Inside the woods we find Pistacea lentiscus, Rock Roses (Cistus albidus) and Asparagus acutifolius.
Art and Architecture
In front of what was once the palace of the Marquis of Sentmenat, seven female figures by an unknown sculpture flank the path that separates the gardens from the building. They represent symbols of the lineages related to the Sentmenat family: the Sarriera, Sentmenat, Ciutadilla, Patiño, Jordán de Urríes, Osorio and Despujol families.
In respect to the old home of the Marquis, in 1779 the master builder Andreu Bosch converted the original country house into a stately neo-Gothic style mansion. During the 19th century new modifications were made that turned the mansion into the romantic palace it is today. Decorative elements from the 15th and 16th century were also incorporated, in particular sculpted door and window frames from other Sentmenat properties.
Among the improvements carried out, once the building came under municipal ownership, gargoyles by Sergi Aguilar on the facade and a mural at the entrance by Albert Ràfold Casamada, founder of the EINA Escola, both stand out.
The origin of the house and gardens is a country house dating from the end of the 14th century: the Teixidó house which was built by Guillen Teixidó after acquiring the finca from Berenguer Aymerich de Sarriá in 1325. The Sentmenat family acquired the house at the beginning of the 18th century. It had an area of approximately 10 hectares, with a garden, vegetable garden and large forest.
In 1960 the Sentmenat family leased the palace to the French consul and in 1974 they sold it to property developer Núñez i Navarro. Negotiations between the Council and the property developer in order to avoid the destruction of natural heritage and such notable structural design lasted until 1992, which was when an agreement of cession was reached. The Council handed the palace over to the EINA Escola de Disseny i Art for 35 years beginning from 1994.
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