19/06/2006 10:34 h.
Text: Maria Rosa Salvadó
Photos: Dani García
When fields are no longer planted, woodland gradually advances, becomes established and finally fills the area.
This is what happened to a large part of the land today occupied by the Castell de l'Oreneta park. Seventeen hectares from two rural estates: that of Can Bonavia, belonging to the family of Count Milà, and Oreneta Castle, belonging to the family Tous.
And it is this castle - built in the higher part of the estate, with only a few walls now remaining - which gave the park its name.
A very Barcelonean wood
The Castell de l'Oreneta park is a large wooded area, which has become the link with the hills of Collserola, the access to the wood which penetrates the city. The park was opened to the public in 1978 and conserves, almost intact, the original Mediterranean vegetation, with many species characteristic of the high plateaux around Barcelona.
The vegetation is its main attraction. There are white pines, Italian stone pine, holm oak and northern red oak, with undergrowth rich in shrubs, such as Spanish broom, box, honeysuckle, strawberry tree and mastic tree. There are hundreds of these last two species.
There are also lots of aromatic plants, such as thyme, laurel and lavender. There used to be a structure, now buried, which served for irrigation, and this, along with orange, medlar, almond and olive trees, reminds us of the agricultural past of much of the area.
All around, engraved on little blocks of stone, we can read about the history of the park and its vegetation.
Over the years, new species, such as eucalyptus, cypress, cedar and the Mediterranean hackberry, have been planted in the Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta, becoming a characteristic of the area, and all adding to its pleasant greenness.
Two trees are exceptional, and are catalogued as listed trees. One is an enormous eucalyptus, which, with the city at its feet, is at a bend on the path which bears its name. The other is a Santa Lucia cherry: a road was being built and had to be modified in order to preserve this fantastic tree.
It is by the pony stables, one of the main attractions for children who visit the park, and the tree is also close by the miniature train, which adults also love to visit.
A place to spend the day
When you visit the park, it is worth planning a whole day out. It is an excursion through woods in the city, where urban planning has improved the network of paths, built rest areas, children's playgrounds – the largest with table tennis tables – and picnic areas.
In higher areas of the park, under the shade of a big carob tree, there are exceptional panoramic views of Barcelona, from Sant Adrià de Besòs all the way to Prat de Llobregat. There is also a cafeteria where you can get spit-roast chicken or other meals and snacks, and it is open longer hours in spring and summer. There are lots more attractions, including a ride on the miniature train, and pony rides for children.
In the summer, there is the public swimming pool, Can Caralleu, right by the park. You couldn't ask for more!
Did you know...
The miniature train in the Parc del Castell de l'Oreneta, inaugurated in 1981, is one of the best scale models, and best equipped, in Europe. It is great fun and one of the highlights of the Barcelona countryside.
The route is 636m with three wide tracks (between 5 and 10 inches), goes through three tunnels, over two bridges and a metallic viaduct, and there is a main station and a wayside station. There are eleven locomotive engines, electric, steam and diesel, and eleven carriages. On Sundays, visitors to the park can ride on the train between eleven in the morning and two in the afternoon.
This is all possible thanks to the members of the Centre d'Estudis-Modelisme Vapor Barcelona i Sabadell. The train was built by a group of steam train enthusiasts, in 1980, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.
The train is a faithful reproduction, and almost completely built by the members of the association. Since 1984, the Vint-i-quatre Hores de Vapor (Twenty-four hours of steam) festival has been held every year, held by many similar associations in Europe and America.
District: Sarrià - Sant Gervasi
Area: 17 ha
Listing: wooded park
Opening hours: from ten in the morning to sunset
Services: children's playground, table tennis, cafeterias, miniature train circuit, pony rides, fountains, picnic area, area for dogs, and toilets
Access: Camí de Can Caralleu, Passatge de la Blada, Avinguda d'Espasa and Carrer de Gaspar Cassadó, by Ronda de Dalt
Special features: listed trees