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  • Writer's pictureWill von Behr, MA

A Brief History of Jardins del Mirador de Alcalde in Barcelona

What are Jardins del Mirador de Alcalde?

Jardins del Mirador de Alcalde are landscaped terraced gardens on Montjuïc Hill in Barcelona that were created in 1969 by Josep Maria de Porcioles i Colomer, Mayor of Barcelona.

Jardins del Mirador de Alcalde

Jorge Franganillo, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jardins del Mirador de Alcalde History

High above Barcelona, these lovely gardens overlook both sea and city. Named – somewhat possessively – the Mirador de l'Alcalde (the Mayor's viewpoint) – the gardens were conceived and inaugurated in 1969 by the city’s Mayor, Josep Maria de Porcioles i Colomer. The project and its fruition neatly encapsulate the controversial character of Porcioles i Colomer, a civil servant who fought for the city's identity and independent spirit during the years of General Franco’s reign.

In 1960, dictator Francisco Franco relinquished direct control of Montjuïc Castle and the surrounding areas, returning them to the city of Barcelona on the condition that a military museum be developed on the grounds. Under Porcioles i Colomer’s leadership, the city decided to create some panoramic gardens in the area around the castle. The project for these gardens, started in the early 1960s, was led by architect Joaquim Casamor i Espona and horticultural expert Juan Panella i Bonastre. This collaboration envisioned a park defined by its luscious gardens, art and sculpture, and sea views.

The gardens are divided into step-like ‘landings’ to take advantage of the steep slopes of Montjuïc Hill. Casamor i Estepona connected the multiple levels with flights of stairs and gently sloping parterres. Each landing features a unique set of attractive gardens and ornamental fountains. Look out for the cooling fountain designed by Carles Buïgas i Sans, creator of the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc and a pioneer in the use of light and water in landscape design. The exuberant use of water is characteristic of Italian Renaissance gardens, however here it’s not central to an aristocratic residence but rather a public space designed for the enjoyment of Barcelona’s citizens.

Even more astounding is the quality of the paving scheme, considered by many a work of art in its own right. The design, conceived and executed by the artist Joan-Josep Tharrats, is a postmodern take on Barcelona's modernist mosaics. In this case, however, the mosaics were constructed from recycled materials such as bottles, cogs, cobbles, bricks, and pieces of industrial machinery. Tourists look out from a garden whose materials look back at Barcelona’s past.

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