Many major cities in Europe were once built around a military stronghold. When I was researching the history of some of the cities in Germany, many of the cities started out around a fortress or citadel. I later discovered that Barcelona was no different from the German cities I visited. Barcelona needed military defenses centuries ago. These defenses were often used against attacks from foreign visitors with no good intension. The stronger the fortress the better. Most of these fortresses were built on top of a hill, to better see the surrounding area. Also, it would make it difficult for the enemy to attack and penetrate into the fortress.
One such fortress that did the job well and still survives today is in Barcelona called Montjuic. It is one of the most visited landmarks in the city because of its fantastic views of Barcelona and the sea.
The easiest way to get to Montjuic, if you don’t have a car is by taking the Teleferic Funicular system from the bottom of the hill. The fair is €12.50 round trip and as you ascend you will slowly see great views of Barcelona and other landmarks sticking out among the cluster of buildings below such as the La Sagrada Familia and the Torre Agbar. Once you get to the rooftop level of the fortress, the magnificent 360 degree view will make you feel the climb to the top is worth it. Feast your eyes. If you turn eastward, you will see the Colom Monument and the W Hotel towering by the coast. Turn to your right would be the industrial part of the port city of Barcelona, where cargo ships loaded with large containers possibly filled with various goods and merchandise to sell.
Built in the 17th century, the Montjuic Castle to some people has seen many battles throughout its life particularly during the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939, where it served as a place of torture and execution. During the 18th century and 19th century, Montjuic Castle served as a prison for many enemies of the state most were people who opposed the abusive system of the Spanish government. In 1963, the Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco inaugurated the fortress into a military museum and today it is still open to the public.
There are many landmarks you can visit in Barcelona but most of the them are at street level. Sometimes we need to do some climbing to see the unexpected character of a city to understand it. Montjuic Castle is one of those places which will make you feel that the climb to the top is well worth the trip.