From Watchtower to Military Jail: Catalonia Montjuic Castle

Bastions and Terraces: Defensive Architecture Unveiled

The castle of Montjuc is on the highest peak of the namesake mountain near Barcelona. The castle was originally erected as a watchtower due to its prominent position but was renovated by Jouan Martin Cermeo in 1751.

After the Succession War in the early XVIII century, in which Barcelona surrendered to the monarch after more than a year of struggle, monarch Felipe V ordered its restoration.

It was redone so that it would overlook both the sea and the city’s historic center, which includes La Ciutadella (Citadel), which is now a public park.

The actual guns used by the King to bombard the rebel city are still on display in the castle’s central courtyard.

In the nineteenth century, Napoleon’s army took the fortress during the French invasion. Used as a military jail ever since its construction in 1810, including throughout the Spanish Civil War.

The castle was used as a political jail and execution site during Franco’s rule, and its inmates were buried in the town cemetery. The president of the Republican Government, Llus Companys, and several prominent Catalans were executed here in 1940.

The castle’s courtyard is worth seeing since it has a fascinating Military Museum, complete with cannons, armor, and paintings of medieval Catalan aristocracy.

Catalonia Montjuic Castle
Catalonia Montjuic Castle

Castell de Montjuc, or Montjuic Castle to the locals, is located atop the eponymous hill in Barcelona. By definition, as a fort, its long and eventful past is rife with conflict, structural alteration, and political intrigue.

Unfortunately, beginning of March 2014, visitors to this charming part of Barcelona will be required to pay in order to enter the fort’s grounds. Now that admission to Montjuic Castle costs €5 for adults and €3 for students and seniors, is it still a good value? All the information you need to know about the city’s solemn monument is right here.

A brief history of Montjuïc Castle

The magnificent Montjuc Castle (Castell de Montjuc) on top of Montjuc Hill is a stunning beacon of Barcelona’s rich past. The Castell de Montjuc (Castle of Montjuic) was constructed in 1640 as a military outpost and is now a museum. The site chosen for the building was atop Montjuc Hill. The Funicular de Montjuc and the Montjuc Cable Car both provide access to Castell de Montjuc.

A military stronghold in its day, Montjuic Castle now stands as a shining emblem of Barcelona’s long and illustrious past. You have to follow its winding history, beginning with its construction in 1640 during the Reapers’ War, to fully understand the appeal of this castle.

The fortress had a commanding view of the city and the Mediterranean Sea from every direction. The strong, reinforced walls tell stories of its time as a defensive stronghold and afterward as a military jail.

The oldest stronghold at Montjuc was built in 1640. Therefore, the castle has a long and storied history. The area of Catalonia was in turmoil at the time, and Montjuc Castle played a significant role in the Battle of Montjuc (January 26th, 1641) during the so-called “Reapers’ War” (1640–1652).

Montjuïc Castle
Montjuïc Castle

In 1751, however, Spanish architect and military engineer Juan Martn Cermeo oversaw the renovation of Montjuc Castle that resulted in the structure we see today. Between 1753 and 1779, the stronghold underwent a series of interventions that included the removal of old structures, the construction of new ones, and the renovation of older ones.

The fortification is now used as a park and cultural center for the community. You can see the massive black cannons used to defend Barcelona from attackers as you arrive at the castle and see them pointed out toward the Mediterranean Sea.

highlights & Different parts of Montjuïc Castle

From the exterior, you may reach Montjuc Castle by crossing the ancient moat, which is now a formal garden, over a stone bridge with four masonry arches.

The Guard House on the right side of Montjuc Castle is placed behind a drawbridge built of wood and iron that could be lifted to seal off the fortress from the outside world. The Bastion of Saint Charles and the Bastion of Saint Amalia, both of which were finished in 1767, provided additional defense for the building.

One of the first sights to behold when entering the Castle of Montjuc is the Bastion of Saint Charles. Designed by Juan Martn Cermeo, this is the only one of the Castle of Montjuc’s four bastions to be constructed from the ground up. It is also known as the Bulwark of Saint Charles.

The construction period lasted from 1756 until 1773. It was named after the Spanish monarch who was in power at the time, Charles III.

View of Montjuïc Castle
View of Montjuïc Castle

A bastion (sometimes called a bulwark) is a defensive structure that projects in the shape of a triangle or pentagon from the main body of the fortress walls.

From the outer moat rises the 14-meter-tall bastion known as the Baluard de Santa Amàlia. And, of course, it boasts the expected breathtaking vistas of Barcelona.

This fortification, also known as the Bulwark of Saint Amalia, contains a well in the middle that leads to a cistern with two underground rooms. The water supply for Montjuc Castle came mostly from this reservoir.

Saint Amalia’s Bastion is a type of fortification known as an “orillon bastion” Round orillons are used to fortify the bulwark’s shorter sides.

The “heart” of Montjuc Castle is the Place-of-Arms. This square terraceterrace, like those seen in other military strongholds, was designed to concentrate the troops in the event of an attack.

There are a number of facilities located in the casemates around the Place-of-Arms of Montjuc Castle, including a Visitor Center (consisting of four rooms), three exhibition rooms, two workshops, an information desk, a café with a terrace, restrooms, and access stairs leading to the terraceterrace.

As We noted before, the Montjuc Castle Visitor Center is comprised of four connected display rooms.

Montjuïc Castle, Barcelona
Montjuïc Castle, Barcelona

There is information on the fortification’s construction and its many uses shown in each of these former rectangular casemates. This information ranges from the human settlement of the Montjuc mountain (including artifacts and archaeological remains found here) until the present day.

One of the most recognizable features of Montjuc Castle is the Watchtower. There was another observation and signal tower atop this square tower, and its existence is attested to as early as the 11th century. During the day, flags and bonfires were used to signal incoming ships and boats, while smoke signals were used at night.

Did you know that the longest section of the curtain wall of Montjuc Castle is the Sea-Facing Wall? Indeed, at 155 meters in length, its wall faces the Mediterranean Sea to the west.

Views of the port of Barcelona, from the docks to the international cruise terminal, can be seen in this shot from the Sea-Facing Wall of Montjuc Castle. You may also view the Montjuic Lighthouse from here.

Moat connecting Saint Amalia and Velasco Bastions; known in Catalan as Fossat de Santa Eulàlia and in Spanish as Foso de Santa Eulalia.

Santa Eulàlia Moat is really a part of the larger Perimeter Moat that encircles Montjuc Castle from the Bastion of Saint Charles to the Landward Lunette (in the second enclosure) and is commonly referred to by this name.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Santa Eulàlia Moat served as a military training field and a backdrop for political executions after originally being constructed to raise the fort and reinforce its defenses. The most infamous was the execution of President Llu’s company members by Francoist authorities on October 15th, 1940.

Montjuïc Castle in Barcelona
Montjuïc Castle in Barcelona

The surrounding area of Montjuïc Castle

You may take the cable car back down after exploring the castle grounds. It’s also possible to take a 20-minute stroll down the mountain, which is a breeze because it’s all downhill.

The neighboring Fundacio Joan Miró on Avenida Miramar is only one example. Among the many attractions in this region are the Olympic Stadium, the Botanical Gardens, the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, and the Museu d’ arte de Catalunya (MNAC). You may spend an entire day exploring Montjuic and yet not see everything there is to see.

How to get to Montjuïc Castle?

Getting to Montjuic Castle may be done in a variety of methods, some of which are more expensive than others. The three most common routes are as follows:

From Port Vell (near the end of Las Ramblas), you may board a cable car for a breathtaking ride across the Mediterranean Sea, which will deposit you about halfway up the mountain.

To get to the Funicular from the Parallel Metro stop, use the Metro. Using a public transportation ticket reduces the cost to €1.03 one way or €2.06 round trip with a T10 ticket. However, it is useful for getting to the middle of the mountain if you are coming from the other side of town.

Montjuïc Castle in Barcelona, Spain
Montjuïc Castle in Barcelona, Spain

The 150 bus from Plaza Espanya is the least expensive option and will drop you off just in front of the castle. One-way fares on a T10 ticket are €1.03, and round-trip fares are €2.06.

There are several lovely parks, such as the ‘Jardins de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer,’ that may be visited en route to the castle if you want to walk the 10 minutes instead of taking the bus from Montjuic. If you don’t want to wait for the Funicular, you may take a cable car that costs €7.50 and takes you directly to the castle from the Funicular station.

We wouldn’t recommend using the cable car if you’re hoping to capture some picturesque moments. The glass windows of the vehicles will most certainly get in the way of your images, but there are plenty of places to take pictures without glass on the ascent. If you’re able to spare the time and money, by all means, stroll leisurely through this beautiful part of Barcelona instead.


On top of Montjuic Hill in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, is an ancient military fortification known as Montjuic Castle. Its construction dates back to 1640. It’s now a public building in Barcelona and one of the city’s main attractions.

Hope this article gives you a perspective on this famous landmark and its beauty. You can check out our social media accounts for more content on Spain’s many attractions.

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