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January 10, 2018 | Things to Do in Barcelona
Take to Jardins de Ca'n Altimira on a sunny day to enjoy lush vegetation, historic architecture, and plenty of fresh air. Here’s everything you need to know to plan for your visit.
The gardens originally belonged to Josep Altimira, a millionaire who had returned to Barcelona after one of his many treks to Cuba in 1860. Altimira was a Fremason stock market investor, and known as the “Count of Monte Cristo” in regards to his wealth and work in Cuba. He formally adopted the estate in 1867 and built a large hypostyle hall with vaults supported by 36 sandstone columns, reminiscent of Roman architecture. Eventually Altimira’s wealth ran short and the property was handed off to the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception who later set up a school on the grounds. A small chunk of the park, now open to the public, was left behind. Unfortunately, the lakes, caves, and waterfalls of the late-19th century can no longer be accessed. What’s left of the park’s thick and diverse vegetation can be viewed on two platforms linked by bridges, one of which is suspended in the air. You can easily access the second level by using a set of gravel steps.
Altmiria’s lavish lifestyle led to many parties within the park’s confines, some of which lasted for days on end. He built the Tower of the Golden Dome for added space, connected by an underground cave which he often flooded to shuffle guests from room to room by boat. It’s even rumored that he trained an orangutan to serve guests drinks!
Planted at the end of the 19th century, the gardens boast wildlife now over 100 years old, including the Aleppo pines and river oaks trees. Other notable species include Atlas cedars, stone pines, Siberian elms, and black locusts. Newly planted botanicals can also be spotted, including vibrant laurels, purple-leaf cherry plums, and kurrajong. Many tourists enjoy the “cat’s claw creeper,” an eye-catching tree that wraps and suspends around the tallest point of the hypostyle hall’s facade. They change color and are covered in seeds the size of your hands!
The garden is open daily to the public from 9am–9pm and located in the district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. The V11 bus drops guests off at the northeast corner of the park. And no need to bring any cash—this park is free of charge! Furry friends are also welcome.
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