Montjuïc Castle is a municipal facility located on a rocky terrace more than 170 metres above sea level, on top of Barcelona’s Montjuïc Mountain.
Montjuïc Castle is an old military fortress with a long history closely linked to the city, which now embarks on a new stage.
The first fortification on Montjuïc Mountain was built in 1640, during the revolt against Felipe IV. It consisted of a quadrilateral structure covered in stone and mud. It first saw action on 26 January 1641, when an attack by the Castilian troops of Pedro Fajardo de Requesens-Zúñiga y Pimentel, the Marquess of Vélez, was repelled in the Battle of Montjuïc.
In 1694 the fort became a castle and the grounds took up most of the summit, with three bastions looking inland and a line of saw-tooth ramparts looking over the sea.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the fall of the castle to the hands of Charles Mordaunt, Lord Peterborough, on 17 September 1705, was one of the factors that tipped the Catalans to the cause of Archduke Charles of Austria. Felipe V took it back on 25 April 1706, but lost it again on 12 May of the same year, and it was not again his till 12 September 1714, when, according to the fifth article of the capitulations —which the Duke of Berwick offered the city on the same day—, it surrendered to Bourbon troops.
In 1751, the military engineer Juan Martín Cermeño demolished the old fort of 1640, which still stood inside the new walls, and gave the complex of fortifications their present shape, providing them with services and cisterns (one of which being potable water), and also excavated a moat. Further construction work was done between 1779 and 1799, to accommodate the doubling of the castle’s population, including kitchens and ovens to feed 3,000, by which time the castle had taken on its final appearance. It was also when it was equipped with artillery, with 120 cannons.
On 13 February 1808, French troops entered Barcelona with 5,427 men and 1,830 horses. At first they were only supposed to remain in the city a few days but, on 29 February, a corps of Napoleon’s imperial troops, commanded by Colonel Floresti, climbed Montjuïc Mountain to capture the castle. This they achieved, but only by annoying the soldiers there because the Captain General of the Principality had received the direct orders of the Court itself to receive Napoleon’s troops with benevolence.
In 1842, during the regency of General Espartero, the city was bombed from the castle to quell a revolutionary uprising. The next year, General ordered a further bombing of Barcelona, with the firing of more than 2,500 projectiles during the 81 days that the siege by government troops lasted.
In the 1890s, the workers involved in the wave of anarchist violence were locked up here. As were the detainees of the Tragic Week of 1909, at the time the Catalan educator and creator of l’Escola Moderna, Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia was executed by firing squad also in Montjuïc. In 1919, more than 3,000 workers were jailed because of the Canadenca conflict. It was filled with right-wing prisoners in 1936, and between 1936 and 1938, in addition to continuing as a prison, 173 people were executed by firing squad. Also executed was the President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, on 15 October 1940.
The castle remained a military prison till 1960, when it was ceded to the city under the direction and administration of the army. After three year’s work to refurbish the complex as a military museum, on 24 June 1963, Francisco Franco presided the inauguration.
A ministerial order of 27 April 2007 modified the transfer of Montjuïc Castle to Barcelona City Council. Subsequent negotiations and meetings allowed Montjuïc Castle to return to the city as a municipal facility and finally be officially recognised as the property of all the Barcelonese.
A public celebration was held on 15 June 2008, to mark its recovery for civil, social and cultural uses. It was “invaded” by some 40,000 people who occupied all the positions in the castle and jointly conquered the premises with traditional gegants, grallers, falcons, folk dancers, an exhibition, concerts and workshops to inform the general public on many of the castle’s lesser-known nooks and crannies.
To finish the day marking the recovery of the castle for use by the city’s citizens, Raimon, a well-known protest singer/songwriter from the last days of Franco, gave a concert in Santa Eulàlia moat in memory of and homage to the President of the Generalitat Lluís Companys and the educator and founder of l’Escola Moderna Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia.
The refurbishment of the castle will begin in 2009, be carried out progressively in different stages and turn this complex into an open fortress surrounded by gardens, a space for learning, relating to others, leisure, and contain major facilities:/p>