What to visit / Barcelona, district by district / Sants-Montjuïc


Sants-Montjuïc is Barcelona's largest district, covering a surface area of 2,090 hectares, almost equivalent to a fifth of the municipal territory. It comprises neighbourhoods with extremely diverse populations and their own distinct personalities.

The historic village of Sants is located above the Gran Via. Once a rural settlement, it grew rapidly in the first half of the 20th century when textile mills, factories and shops set up their premises here. Like many other villages on the Barcelona Plain, Sants was annexed by Barcelona in 1897.

Poble-sec extends from below the Avinguda del Paral·lel to the foot of Montjuïc Hill. Its working-class roots and a long-standing theatrical tradition are some of the distinctive traits of this Barcelona neighbourhood, where you'll still find one of the air-raid shelters built by the local community during the Spanish Civil War.

However, the most iconic landmark in Poble-sec is certainly Montjuïc Hill. Standing 185 metres high, its characteristic outline, resembling a cliff sinking into the sea, has been a symbol of the city since ancient times and a superb viewing point over Barcelona. The hill was known as the Mount of the Jews (Montjuïc in Catalan) and so-named because Barcelona's Sephardic community bought land here in medieval times to bury their dead. Montjuïc has been one of the city's key suppliers. The Romans used stone quarried on Montjuïc to build Barcino, and the Christians took stone from here to construct iconic medieval landmarks such as Santa Maria del Mar.

Montjuïc has been, and remains, a superb lookout point over Barcelona. You can enjoy exceptional views of the city, port and coastline from its many belvederes – such as the Mirador del Alcalde, and the Mirador del Migdia and the path that connects them – and unique means of transport, such as the cable cars which run up to the castle and across the harbour.

However, building on the hill and its resulting transformation didn't take place until relatively recently. In the early 20th century, the City Council decided to host the 1929 International Exhibition on the hill. The Plaça d'Espanya, the Magic Fountain, the Palau Nacional, home of the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, the visionary German Pavilion created by Mies van der Rohe for the exhibition and the Poble Espanyol, or Spanish Village, date from this period. And the Olympic Stadium, which first opened in 1992, was completely remodelled for the city's hosting of the 25th Olympic Games in Barcelona. The Olympic Ring was completed with unique buildings, such as the Palau Sant Jordi (Arata Isozaki) and the Communications Tower (Santiago Calatrava).

If you add other cultural attractions to the mix, such as CaixaForum and the Fundació Miró, as well as the many themed gardens from different eras that dot Montjuïc Hill, it gives us a great community space where you'll find art and culture, leisure and sport, trade fairs and congresses, gardens and nature trails.

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