The Font Mágica (Magic Fountain) is one of the most emblematic sites in Barcelona. It is a dazzling light and music performance that takes place at the fountains at the bottom of Montjuic. The largest fountain lights up with different colors and the jets are synchronized to the music which can range from classical to pop and which gives the impression that the fountain is “dancing” to the music.
It addition, the setting itself is spectacular as the fountain is set in front of the Palau Nacional de Montjuic, which is also lit up at night, and the road which leads to it, Avenida Cristina, is set with smaller fountains which add to the display. On public holidays, such at the Festival de Mercé on September 24, fireworks are often added to the show.
The Magic Fountain is considered to be one of the most beautiful fountains in the world, along with the Fountain of Trevi in Rome and the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. It is also one of the most popular attractions is Barcelona and can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages and interests. This is a great way to either begin or end an evening, and best of all, it´s free!
The Font Mágica (Magic Fountain of Montjuic) opened on May 19, 1929 during the Great Universal Exposition. That year it was one of the biggest attractions of both the Universal Exposition and the World Fair, which also took place in 1929. It was designed by Carles Buigas, who is the son of the artist who designed the Columbus monument at the bottom of Las Ramblas.
Buigas was already working on the Exhibition as an engineer and head of the electromechanical installations section, and was heavily involved in illumination work when he began work on the fountain. He submitted his plans for the fountain less than a year before the Exposition was set to open, and presented the Exposition´s Executive Committee with nearly 500 plans and over 50 large drawings. The committee was surprised by the immensity of the project and nearly rejected the idea because they believed it would be impossible to complete. Fortunately Buigas convinced them otherwise, and managed to complete the project in less than a year with the help of over 3000 workers.
The fountain spouts 2,600 liters per second and uses recycled water in order to conserve drinking water. It relies on illumination technology which was designed by Buigas himself and was considered very advanced for its time. It has white lights that are located inside 5-sided prisms, which then generate different shades and hues as they rotate around the lights. Due to its spectacular colors the fountain soon became known as the “magic fountain”.
During the civil war and the post-war period the fountain was neglected, and in 1955 until the 1970´s the fountain was turned off. In 1976 the fountain was restored and during this restoration music was added to the performance, with the jets being synchronized to the music. In 1992 it underwent further restoration in preparation for the 1992 Olympic Games, and in 1998 it underwent its most recent repairs. Since then it has closed several times due to droughts, but for the most part the fountain has stayed open and the performances have continued.
It can get quite crowded, especially in warmer months, so it´s best to arrive early. The fountain is raised so you´ll have a decent view no matter where you are, but if you can, try and get a seat on the stairways or walls. If you are directly in front of the fountain be prepared to get a bit wet, especially if there is wind. Many people bring picnics and blankets and then sit and have dinner while they wait, which is great idea providing that the weather is nice and that you can get a spot big enough for the group to sit. You should also keep in mind that there is a lot to see and do in Montjuic besides the fountain, so a visit to the fountain can also be combined whith a visit to one of the museums or other landmarks in that area.
The Magic Fountain also co-stars with gigantic fireworks displays in the city´s festivals of luz y agua (light and water) put on special events.
Quite often as a culmination of the show sounds the Olympic tune Barcelona, belted out by the late Freddy Mercury and the Catalan opera diva Moserrat Caballé.
The fountain is located at the bottom of Montjuic, near Plaza Espanya, which is most easily accessed by the red L1 or green L3 metro lines. Once you exit the metro, look for the two Venetian towers (you can´t miss them) and follow that road until you reach the fountain. Many of the city buses also pass by here, including several night buses, if you happen to be out past the metro closing time.
Performance times from October to April are Fridays and Saturdays every half hour from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. From May to September performance times are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday every half hour from 9:30pm to 12:00pm. Each performance lasts around 15 minutes.