Ciudadela Park – History and Origin of the Ciudadela Park in Barcelona –

A park that breathes life, its leafy trees, the birds with their tireless song, the sound of flowing water. A rest for the senses, a now public park for the use and enjoyment of the inhabitants of Barcelona and all the visitors who cannot avoid getting lost in its history. A park that now breathes peace but that had a bloody origin. Let us know, from an impartial point of view, what was in the place where the park is located today, what event took place in such a beautiful park today. The Parque de la Ciudadela – History and Origin of the Parque de la Ciudadela in Barcelona.

Origin of the Citadel Park

The Park of the Citadel of Barcelonareceives its name from occupying the place where the Citadel of Barcelona previously stood, a fortification created to control the city, after the War of the Spanish Succession that took place in the 18th century.

With the death of King Charles II the bewitched, without descendants, a serious problem arises for the Spanish crown, the succession to the throne. There were two pretenders to the Spanish crown, on the one hand Philip of Anjou, on which the late King Charles II had named in his will as heir to the crown. We must not forget that there were relatives, Philip of Anjou was the great-grandson of Philip IV, father of the deceased king.

Secondly the house of Habsburgclaimed his dynastic rights to the succession to the throne of Spain, since we must not forget that the Archduke Charles of Habsburg he belonged to the same dynastic house as the late King Charles.

Initially Catalonia supported the French candidate, who swore the Catalan constitutions in the year 1701. But due to a dissolute and wasteful life of the Viceroy Francisco Antonio de Velasco, as well as the expulsion of the bishop of Barcelona, ​​motivated the Catalan upper classes, rich merchants, nobles and the Catalan clergy, dThey directed their gazes towards the candidate Carlos.

The War of Succession and the Citadel Park

In the year 1705, Allied troops enter Barcelona, ​​take Montjuic castle and incessantly bombard the city for a month. It really was a kind of civil war that was developing in the city of Barcelona. Where towns like Cervera or Berga supported the French candidate, while Barcelona, ​​Gracia and other towns supported Archduke Carlos, even reaching the point of being proclaimed in 1706. king charles iii to the Archduke, by the Courts of Catalonia.

In 1711, the Archduke Carlos has to abandon the dispute, he had just inherited the throne and was named Holy Roman Emperor. The Battles of Almansa, Brihuega and Villaviciosa, the capture of Valencia and Aragón they leave Catalonia totally alone in defense of the Emperor.

On September 11, 1714, after being besieged the city of Barcelona for more than a year, fell before the army of now and King Felipe V.

Construction of the Citadel

The new Bourbon king wanted to maintain control in the city, so ordered to build a citadel or strength. This would be star-shaped and would be the largest in Europe.

For the construction of this fortification needed to knock down 1,200 houses, the convent of Santa Clara and San Agustín. The Ribera neighborhood practically disappeared, more than 4,500 people were evicted and left to their own devices, since the old Ribera neighborhood would still take another 30 years to be relocated, but now with the name of the Ribera, but as Barceloneta.

With the completion of the Citadel, a whole military complex expressly created for the domination of the city had been completed, it took two years to build the Citadel 1716-18, in addition to the reconstruction of the Montjuic Castledestroyed after the siege and which would complete the military complex from above.

Destruction of the Citadel

From the moment of its construction, the Citadel was a hated symbol that remembered that year of siege and destruction. Symbol of the imposition of a candidate, Felipe V and of an absolutist government.

Over the years and the successive criticisms of a technical nature, especially after the French invasion and the use of the citadel like prison for the city population. He increased the hatred of this military complex.

On October 26, 1841 and with Espartero as regent, the demolition works of the Citadel begin. This destruction was not total, being later restored during the regency of queen maria christina. However it would be General Prim, who ceded to the City of Barcelona the grounds and what remained of the Citadel.

In 1868, I know demolition work on the Citadel beganbeginning with the tower of San Juan, which had served as a military prison for many years and ending with the rest of the structure, leaving only what was the original fortress, the chapel or military parish, the governor’s palace of the citadel (currently IES Verdaguer) and what was citadel armorytoday the Headquarters of the Parliament of Catalonia.

Citadel Park | From Military Fortress to Park

Once the walls were destroyed in 1856, planning began for the new Eixample neighborhoodwith a plot in the middle, it was decided to organize a municipal contest of ideas, among which the following stood out:

  • Maintain the buildings that were still standing and integrate it into the urban landscape
  • Get rid of everything completely and start from scratch.

In December 1869, the Catalan general Joan Prime ordered the donation of the land and construction that remained to the city of Barcelona but with the only condition that in the site will build a park that it be for the use and enjoyment of all citizens. Now the City Council was obliged to pay property rights to the heirs that were expropriated during the war of succession. When the Citadel was torn down, a plaque was placed on it that could be read.

Universal Exhibition of 1888 in the Parque de la Ciudadela

in 1888 Barcelona had to celebrate the Universal exposition, reason that was used to beautify the city, showing the world a modern and open Barcelona was the main objective. Within the embellishment of the city was the creation of a park on the grounds of the Citadel.

The project was entrusted to Josep Fontsère, who projected some beautiful gardens that would serve as a lung for the city. A place of recreation inspired by French, English and Italian gardens, paying special attention to the Luxembourg Gardens.

Fontserè, projected some gardens with a central square, with ring roads and monumental fountains. In the same enclosure there was also the Borne Market, a bridge made of iron for the railway, a slaughterhouse and different booths that offered various services.

Gaudí also collaborated in the project, he was in charge of carrying out the monumental waterfall, He was in charge of the hydraulic part of the fountain, as well as the design of the artificial grotto that runs below the waterfall.

Today there are still buildings belonging to the time of the Exhibition as the Castle of the Three Dragons, that occupied the Museum of Zoology, built fundamentally under the aesthetics of modernism and made of iron and exposed brick.

the hibernacle, designed in glass and iron very much in the style of the Crystal Palace building, built for the London Exhibition. The Martorell Museum dedicated to Geology and the Umbracle.

The Citadel Park today

Today it is one of the largest parks in Barcelona. Its facilities house the Barcelona Zoo, In addition to the old fortifications that belonged to the Citadel, such as the chapel, the governor’s palace and the arsenal, as well as all the sculptures and buildings created for the 1888 Exposition, such as the Umbracle, the Hivernacle, the Geology Museum and the Zoology.

The park contains groveswalks and a lake with a waterfall. The lake It is the nerve center of the park, dotted with small islands that are in turn decorated with a large number of exotic plants and aquatic animals, which can be observed more closely if we approach the pier and use one of its rowing boats.

Romantic gardens take us to the old main square where an oval pond presents us with the famous Sculpture of Despair. Different sculptures dot our walk such as that of General Prim, the Bonaventura Carles Aribau Monument, the Catalan Volunteers, the busts of Milà and Fontanals, Manuel Fuxá, the Children’s fountain, the Walt Disney Monument, the Mammoth, etc.

If we head towards the zoo, we can appreciate the wonderful sculpture of the Umbrella Lady work of Joan Roig i Solè, a true symbol for the city.

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Citadel Park | Photo gallery

Then we leave you the image gallery that we have used to illustrate this article and others that illustrate the beauty of the park, in case you want to enlarge the images in more detail.