Saturday 2 January 2016

Barcelona Parc de la Ciutadella Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 2.4 km (1.4 miles), terrain: flat

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

Here's a nice little park run in Barcelona, Parc de la Ciutadella. It has everything a pleasant city park needs: ponds, fountains, statues, playgrounds, cafés, row-boats, lots of dirt paths, exotic trees, tropical plants... It also contains some unexpected extras, like the city zoo and the Catalan parliament building. Plus, in a narrow extension of the park, the Arc de Triomf stands watch over the whole scene.
The main path through the park
Unfortunately, the eastern and southern edges of the park are occupied by the zoo, and you can't run through those areas (although you can sometimes smell the zoo animals on the other side of the walls and fences!) The Parc de la Ciutadella a bit small for a run by itself, but it's easy to connect it to other routes to make a longer run. You can run there in a few minutes from the Plaza de Catalunya (along Ronda de Sant Pere) or from anywhere in the old town, or you can also quickly get there from the beach, either from Port Vell or the marina.
The Arc de Triompf
Or, in another way to add distance, you might just want to do a couple of rounds in the park itself, each time trying different trails: this is one of the greenest, most pleasant hangouts in town!
Exotic trees and greenhouse in the park
So, if you're ready to go, get yourself to the Arc de Triomf at the northwest end of Passeig de Lluís Companys (Metro line 1 stops here). The arch was the main entrance into the 1888 Universal Exhibition, and the park-like green-stripe behind it will provide the first part of the run.

Run through the arch and continue southeastwards through the park, lined by date-palm trees and really cool decorative street-lamps.
The lamp-posts
After 200 meters, you enter the main Parc de la Ciutadella, the old world's fair site, and earlier site of a fort. The unloved fort, built by the Spanish kings to keep the Catalans under control, was torn down by the town 150 years ago.

Some of the Universal Exhibition buildings are still standing, like the Castell dels Tres Dragons on the right side (now the zoology museum).
Out front of Tres Dragons on a December morning
Keep close to the right edge of the park, running past Tres Dragons and then some greenhouses.

When you get to the western entrance to the park, with its driveway, turn left to run past the statue of the general mounted on his horse, running past the zoo entrance towards the domed church ahead.  
The garrison church
The church was for the troops stationed in the citadel, which was the largest in Europe. After the citadel was torn down, only the church and the few other buildings next to it were left standing.

Run past the church, into the formal gardens behind it, surrounding a little pond. Run to the far side of the gardens and turn left to head northwest, past the big building on the right. The building is the former citadel arsenal, now the Parlament de Catalunya.
Runners out front of the parliament
After passing the parliament building, you come to one of my favorite spots, the lake. This is where lots of people enjoy life, sitting on benches beneath the date palms or paddling around in a row-boat. 
The lake on a quiet winter morning
You'll now pass a big mastodon statue and then come out at the most spectacular sight of the park, the fountain (cascada) with its golden quadriga statue mounted atop an archway.
The cascada, with its golden chariot
Now continue running northwest, running behind the fountain. You'll immediately come to the northwest corner of the park, where you turn left to continue back towards Tres Dragons.

Now you turn right and run back to the start at the Arc de Triomf.

That was so nice, you might want to try it again, maybe running it the other way around!

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