The Jardí Botánic (Botanical Garden) of Barcelona is the ideal way to escape the sometimes overwhelming crowds, traffic, concrete, and tall buildings of the city. Located in the mountain of Montjuic, 173 meters above the city center, the garden offers the opportunity to return to nature without ever leaving Barcelona.
Botanical gardens have always been an important part of Barcelona, which is not surprising given that the Catalans are known for being more nature oriented than those in other parts of Spain. The first one on record dates back to the 16th century and was located at the General Office of the Capuchin monks in the city center. In the 17th century Jaume Salvador i Pedrol, who came from a family of botanists, created the first garden with a scientific vocation, and his collections are now kept and exhibited at Barcelona´s Botanical Institute.
In 1930 the Historical Botanical Garden was created by Dr. Pius Font i Quer, near the Foixarda quarry in Montjuic, but in 1986 construction of the new Olympic facilities began, which threatened its stability. This issue resulted in the proposal to establish a new botanical garden in Barcelona. Barcelona´s new Botanical Garden finally opened on April 18, 1999 with the economic support of the Barcelona City Council and the European Union, with the mission of conserving and documenting Catalonia´s natural heritage.
The gardens were designed by an interdisciplinary team that included two architects, a landscape architect, a horticulturalist, and a biologist. The team took into consideration both how the vegetation should be structured and how to ensure that the mountain of Montjuic could provide the correct conditions. The end result was a triangular shaped design that adapts to the mountain and it´s available space. In 2001 it was nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture. Visitors often remark that its use of wide, open space gives it a feeling of calmness and its location in Montjuic means it also has great views of the city below.
The Botanical Garden is supported by the Botanical Institute of Barcelona which is devoted to botanical research. The fact that it is a Mediterranean garden makes it ideal for experimenting with plants new to the Mediterranean climate and with methods of sustainable gardening, and in the year 2000 the Barcelona City Council Institute of Culture and the Association of Municipalities of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area signed an agreement with these objectives in mind. The Botanical Garden is also part of the GENMEDOC Project, which has the objective to establish common protocols for collecting, conserving, and germinating species in the interest of the regeneration of natural populations of the plants. Of course, the main objective of the Botanical Garden is to raise visitors´ awareness about the importance of plants and conserving the environment.
The garden is divided into five sections: Mediterranean Basin, Chilean Mediterranean, South Africa, California, and Australia. These five were specifically chosen because they all share a Mediterranean climate, which means that plants from these areas can also thrive in Barcelona in a natural environment. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild winters. Within these five sections they are grouped according to the landscapes that they form in nature. The forest landscapes can be found in the higher areas of the garden and the shrub communities are in the central and lower areas. Each plant is labeled (in Latin, Catalan, Spanish, and English) with the family (the species it belongs to), the scientific name, the common name, and the geographic distribution.
Only 1.7% of the world has a Mediterranean climate but their flora accounts for approximately 25% of all plants known to us. The Botanical Garden is constantly producing and introducing new species, and plans to eventually house 4,000 different species. At the moment there are 1,492, and the biggest zone is South Africa, which has over 400.
The entire garden can be seen in about 2 hours, although many visitors take the time to stop and have a picnic or take a short siesta in the sun while they´re there because the environment is so relaxing. A visit to the garden can easily be combined with a visit to some of Montjuic´s other must-see attractions. There’s not much shade available, so those who come during the hotter months should plan their visit for either early morning or late afternoon to avoid the mid-afternoon heat.
Address: C/ Cr. Font I Quer, number 2 (in Montjuic, just above the Olympic Stadium)
Telephone: 93 256 41 60
Times: November to January- Monday to Sunday 10:00am to 5:00pm
February to October- Monday to Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm
April to September- Monday to Sunday 10:00am to 7:00pm
June to August- Monday to Sunday 10:00am to 8:00pm
Admission- € 3.50 (free the last Sunday of each month)
Transport- Metro Espanya (green and red lines) to bus Parc Montjuic
Bus- Parc Monjuic, 50, 55, or 61