Barcelona: Places to Explore

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Montjuïc

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This hill overlooking the south side of the port is said to have originally been named Mont Juif for the Jewish cemetery once on its slopes, though a 3rd-century Roman document referring to the construction of a road between Mons Taber (around the cathedral) and Mons Jovis (Mount of Jove) suggests that in fact the name may derive from the Roman deity Jove, or Jupiter. Regardless, Montjuïc is now Barcelona's art enclave, with nearly every painting in town hanging in the colossal Palau Nacional or the Miró Foundation.

Compared to the booming street life, the human warmth, hustle, and bustle of Barcelona, Montjuïc may feel remote, but the art and architecture concentrated around this lush promontory more than justify spending a day or two exploring. The Miró Foundation, the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, the minimalist Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, the lush Jardins de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer, and the gallery and auditorium CaixaFòrum (Casaramona) are all undoubtedly among Barcelona's must-see sights. The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya contains what is considered the world's best collection of Romanesque murals and frescoes removed for restoration from Pyrenean chapels in the 1930s. In addition, the MNAC is the home of the Art Modern collection of impressionist and Moderniste painters, as well as an impressive Gothic collection. Other Montjuïc attractions—the fortress, the Olympic stadium, Palau Sant Jordi, and the Poble Espanyol—are interesting enough, though second-tier visits compared to options such as Park Güell and the Monestir de Pedralbes.

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