Monday, 14 January 2013

Barcelona Montjuic Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7.2 km (4.5 miles), terrain goes up and down one big hill with a 150-meter rise

Pictures courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks!

Barcelona running routes:
Montjuic hill climb
Beach run
Old town and harbor route
For more running routes, see Route List.

Barçelona is one of the most fun cities in Europe. Lively, scenic, with a great mixture of historical and modern elements, beachfront, hills, lively streets and clubs, with a good portion of relaxed creativity flowing through the whole city. You're guaranteed to be entertained there.

And if you want an entertaining run, here's one. This out-and-back route heads up the town's main hill, the 184-meter-high Montjuïc, with great views the whole time. It starts at one of the city's main crossroads, the Plaça d'Espanya, and heads past the exhibition halls and the National Palace, and then up through parkland to the the big fort on the hilltop, the Castell de Montjuïc, overlooking the Mediterranean.
The Castel de Montjuic, photo by jp3g
Montjuïc sits on the south side of the old town, perched above the harbor. You can reach it from the water side or the Ramblas (which I've done a few times, taking the Passeig Miramar), but I'll show a way coming in from the back side, going through the interesting exhibition hall area.

We'll start at one of Barçelona's main crossroads, the Plaça d'Espanya, where Gran Via and Avinguda del Paral-lel come together at a gigantic roundabout with a monument. Not only is this a big traffic hub, the roundabout is surrounded by impressive buildings like the bull-fighting ring (las Arenas) and the twin Venician towers. A few blocks to the northwest is the main train station, Sants.
Plaça d'Espanya, looking towards the Palau Nacional and Montjuïc, photo by rytc
The red-brick Venician towers, left over from a World's Fair, mark the entrance of our running route. So, if you're ready, let's head over there.

Passing between the towers, you are now running southeast, straight up Avinguda Reina Maria Christina, past massive exhibition halls to either side. The area was erected for the 1929 International Exposition.

After the exhibition halls, you'll come to a big fountain, the Font Màgica, with light shows on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The Magic Fountain at night, with lasers behind the palace, photo by Jim Sideas
NOTE: off to the right side, a few hundred meters away, is the Poble Espanyol, a recreated village with houses of various styles from all over Spain, and above that is the huge olympic sports complex and stadium.

But we'll continue running straight, going uphill towards the gigantic palace ahead, the Palau Nacional, which houses the Catalonian National Museum of Art.

Run up the first set of steps, past the four columns symbolizing the stripes on the Catalonian flag.
Heading up to the Palau Nacional, photo by fpeault
At the top of the steps, you have to turn right to get up to the next level, with the museum. Run to the mechanical escalator, which will take you up to the next level.

You are now to the right of the museum. Turn left and run past the front entrance. I was lucky one time, when I came by here one evening and there was an event in the museum lobby: I got some free wine and crackers and got to look at the inside of the building (hey, you have to take your opportunities when they come, I say).

When you get to the east end of the palace, DON'T turn right to head up the road directly along the building. Instead head straight onto the main street as it curves to the right and goes past the right side of the Ethnological Museum, heading uphill on Passeig Santa Madrona.

In 300 meters, the street will run into Carrer l'Estadi. Turn left and continue heading uphill.

In 200 meters, you'll go by the gondola lift station on the right, the Funicular, that takes people the easy way to the top. Turn right here on the Carrer dels Tarongers.

There is a pleasant park on the right side. Turn into the park right where the lift cables pass overhead. This is the Jardins de Mossén Cinto Verdaguer. Now just run any path you want towards the highest point of the park, past the pond, and up through the little square lotus pools.
Montjuic park, photo by Harm Rhebergen
Take the path that leads under the street above, coming out the other side, going up some steps.

When you come up to street level, keep running straight ahead, going uphill, along the Carrer dels Tarongers. You are now passing a terraced parking area for the castell, with parallel parking streets lining the hill to your right.

In 300 meters, you come to the gondola cables again, where you turn right to go up the steps through a park towards the fort. Actually, you have a choice here: either run up the steps, or follow the zig-zagging sidewalk or follow the paved street to the east of the steps to run there directly.
Castle entrance, photo by calafellvalo
In another 300 meters, you'll be at the front gate of the castell, where you go inside over the draw-bridge. You can run around inside and climb up the walls at a few spots to view out over the city and the sea. Nice spot!
View from the top, photo by Rich Jacques
From here, turn around, and head back to the Plaça d'Espanya the same way that you came.