Lessons can be learnt from visiting a graveyard. More than just a place to mourn the dead, graveyards help tell the history of a city. Given the political turmoil that Catalonia and Spain currently find themselves in, it might be wise to heed these lessons, because among the one million dead that lay rest here, are an estimated 4,000 people that were executed by the Franco regime following the fall of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.
Without getting too political, it might be prudent of Rajoy and Puigdemont to take a stroll through this particular cemetery.
Located to the south of the city and overlooking the port of Barcelona, Montjuïc cemetery sits atop of the hillside and covers and incredible 56 zig-zagging hectares.
Created in response to the need for new burial grounds at the end of the 19th century, the then little-used Montjuïc was selected as an extension to the city’s existing cemeteries. Established on 17th March 1883 by the mayor of the Barcelona, the first burial took place just two days later, and the cemetery has been accepting of the dead, and the living, ever since.
A tourist location to visitors of the city – though not for the locals – the cemetery offers free guided tours on the first Sunday of every month, a library, and a museum of hearses – purported to be the only one in Europe. It’s also home to some of the most prominent figures to be associated with Barcelona and Catalan culture since the 19th century. These people include famed Catalan artist Joan Miró; former president of Catalonia and another victim of General Franco’s men, Lluís Companys; and founder of Barcelona football club, Joan Gamper.
Renown for its incredible architecture, church-sized mausoleums and fabulous statues, most of which are in the neo-Gothic style, the grandeur of these graves surely depended on how much family members were willing to invest in their final resting places. Interned in these huge mausoleums are the highest members of society, such as the Batlló family, who once commissioned Antoni Gaudi to create the magnificent Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia, among various other projects for them.
These sprawling crypts give a fascinating insight into the family’s relationship with death, even telling a visual story of sorts when examined in detail. An architectural wonderment, it’s a pleasure to navigate the many statues, mausoleums and graves that have been erected in memory of loved ones and to take a walk through Barcelona’s past.
Oh, and there’s some really creepy graves here, too!
Daily from 8am until 6pm
Montjuïc Cemetery address:
Carrer de la Mare de Déu de Port, 56 – 58, 08038 Barcelona
Metro L3 to Plaça Espanya, then walk to Paral-lel (5 minutes from the end of Las Ramblas) bus stop. Get the 21 bus (heading south).
Buses 23, 37, 107, 109 and 193 head there, too.
Attractions near to Montjuïc Cemetery:
- Catalonian National Art Museum (MNAC)
- Miro Foundation art gallery
- Caixa Forum art gallery
- Montjuïc castle