Ciutadella Park Shade House
128 years housing tropical plants
In Ciutadella Park there is an iron building with a trefoil profile in which tropical and subtropical plants are grown. The Umbracle or shade house, which is one of the buildings built for the 1888 Universal Exposition, recreates the shaded and humid conditions of the tropical forests to which its species are accustomed.
Why visit the Ciutadella Park Shade House?
The shade house was built from 1883 to 1887 by Josep Amargós based on a design by Josep Fontserè to recover the military citadel that Philip V had erected to control Barcelona as a public park and scientific and museum space. Only a few of the projects that were planned were actually built, such as the Martorell Museum of Geology, the glasshouse and the shade house, which are on the Passeig de Picasso side of Ciutadella Park.
Fontserè was tasked with designing a building to protect plants from the sun in order to grow species not native to the Mediterranean climate. With a structure of cast iron pillars, curved iron beams and three roof structures formed by five arches, he managed to use light and shade to recreate the conditions of the tropical and subtropical forests where the large trees and plants housed in the enclosure are from.
The species you can see at the shade house include hydrangeas, kentia palms, gardenias, Ficus trees, "Alocasia" species, "Mostera deliciosa", palm trees, wax palms and winter jasmines. The space features a number of flowerbeds, arranged around the four walls and in the centre, and a central corridor where there are four benches where you can sit down to appreciate the plants in peace.
How do you get to the Ciutadella Park Shade House?
For the most curious of you
- Did you know? The recovery of the old citadel as a scientific and museum space included the life-size reproduction of extinct species. It was a project implemented by the naturalist Norbert Font i Sagué, which was sadly abandoned upon his death, when only one of these sculptures was ready. It is a mammoth, located close to the monumental fountain, which has become a famous feature of the park.
- Local’s tip: The shade house is a place where you can enjoy nature without leaving the city and find a little peace.
- A must: To enjoy exuberant nature without leaving Barcelona.
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