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 Jupiter. Either way, Montjuïc is now Barcelona’s largest and lushest public space, a vast complex of museums and exhibition halls, gardens and picnic grounds, sports facilities—and even a Greek-style amphitheater.
A bit remote from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona street life, Montjuïc more than justifies a day or two of 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 of the CaixaFòrum (the former Casaramona textile factory) are all undoubtedly among Barcelona’s must-see sights. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, especially, contains what is considered the world’s best collection of Romanesque frescoes, removed for restoration from Pyrenean chapels in the 1930s and ingeniously restored with their original contours. The MNAC also houses an especially fine collection of impressionist and Moderniste painters, and another of Gothic art. Other Montjuïc attractions include the fortress, the Olympic stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi, and the Poble Espanyol. There are buses within Montjuïc that visitors can take from sight to sight.