When I go to Spain, I do my utmost to avoid bill rings, especially ones which are still in use. To my surprise though, I found I was purposely walking to visit one in Barcelona. Only this one was different. It was the Arenas de Barcelona; Barcelona Arena.
Arenas de Barcelona
While the Barcelona Arena might look like your typical Spanish bull fighting arena, this one is now quite different. Housed within the beautiful brick walls is a modern shopping centre topped with a circular viewing platform where you can enjoy distant views over the city. The best part of all this is that no bulls get hurt and people enjoy the space for more wholesome pursuits.
Views from the bull ring
The 1 Euro per person to take the lift to the top is definitely worthwhile. We arrived around 11:30 and it was still pretty quiet up there. Although this could have been because we were there in February and it wasn’t the clearest of days, but who knows! Anyway, even on an overcast day, there is more than enough to see and enjoy. Plus, if you fancy a drink or some food, there are venues on the roof too.
With it being a circular building, you get views all over the city which I felt was a really good starting point for our adventure. We could spot curious things on within the landscape and work out how to get there. This is my usual way of finding places and it works well.
Joan Miro Park
To one side of the 360 degree vista, we realised that we were right on top of Joan Miro Park. From the guidebook, we anticipated a very green space, so were surprised to see so much sand. The sand, we realised later, is actually the space for people to walk their dogs – I wonder whether it is about the dog paws or the poop? There was still a lot of green in the form of trees, lining the walkways and drawing you in.
To be honest though, I did expect there to be more colour in the form of Miro’s work and influence.
The Bull Monument and Magic Fountain
To the other side we were treated to vies via the Torres Venecianes, the two pillar monument leading up to the Montjuic Magic Fountain. The fountain was something we were eager to see after my friend Hannah told us about it. The water ‘dances’ to music and lights in a spectacular show. To our disappointment, the fountain was shut for maintenance until shortly after our departure. To make up for it, we did watch a YouTube video or two over lunch to pretend we’d seen it.
Inside Barcelona Arena
The design of the arena has been maintained inside the building with the shops spanning in two circles around the edge, very much in keeping with the style of the original design. I have to say that shops in a double circle makes it a bit hard to navigate, but you get there in the end after a round or two.
Excited to discover that there were information boards about the arena closure and redevelopment, we headed to have a look. As it was in Spanish, and my Spanish is rusty to say the least, we simply enjoyed the pictures with the idea that I would research more when we got home. (Just so you know, it is still on the list) Even looking at the pictures told a story of preservation and history, so that was good enough for us.
Views from the arena
Starting our trip with high up views over the city made for a perfect beginning. Although we didn’t manage to visit all of the places we spotted, partly because of it being off-season, we were able to get our bearings. I also really enjoyed seeing heritage buildings so well transformed to fit more comfortably with modern-day life. While keeping the structure and style of the arena, they kept the story and heritage alive without having to be graphic in the information shared.
I would certainly recommend you take a visit when you’re in Barcelona, but take Google Translate or bring a dictionary to find out more about the building – let me know what you find out too!
Have you visited Barcelona? Did you take in the views over Barcelona from the Arena?
Are you a fan of off beat viewing places too?
Address: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 373 – 385, 08015 Barcelona, Spain