Ciutadella Park is the lung of Barcelona, but it is definitely not as any other park in the city. The Ciutadella used to be a military facility that was built in XVII century by Felip V but it was demolished right before the Universal Exhibition of 1888.
Nowadays the park has still buildings and facilities that were built in the Universal exhibition: the three dragons castle by Domènech i Montaner, the waterfall and the lake, the Umbracle and Hivernacle.
In the same park, there is also the Barcelona Zoo that was built in 1892 as well as the Catalonia Parliament that is located inside of the park in the place that before there was the military arsenal.
One of the things that most surprises visitors is the big mammoth that is in the park, probably all locals remember as I do when I was little being on the mammoth's trunk sitting down, I loved it!
The park is located right in the centre of Barcelona, I recommend you that when you visit the city centre, the Born area you stop by and go for a walk inside the park. There are ten different accesses to get inside Ciutadella park spread out through all the park extension that is 17,42 hectares.
Domènech i Montaner was the architect of the Three Dagons Castle that was inaugurated as the restaurant of the Universal Exhibition. The building was used as the Zoology Museum, the Natural Science Museum and now is a Nature Laboratory that offers a consultant service for professional scientists, environmental technical agents or naturalists.
The Barcelona zoo is right inside the Ciutadella park and more than 7000 animals live there. The visit to the zoo is a good experience for the little of the house discovering monekys, felins, birds, dolphins etc...
The zoo was inaugurated on 1892 and occupies 14 hectares of the park. The fauna of the the zoo in thier opening came from a private collection of Lluis Codolar. In these more than 100 years of history, the zoo has changed so much and has focused in the wellbeing of the animals and the reintroduction of species in danger.
The Barcelona zoo was in the news for some time due to their white gorilla called "Floquet de Neu", he was the only known albino gorilla, he lived 39 years way more than the gorilla average of 25 years.
The waterfall and the lake
One of the typical things to do in Ciutadella Park is to rent a boat and go into the lake, there is a big fountain in the middle of the lake and it has this romantic scenery, a lot of couples started in this lake.
It is a nice area to walk around and there are benches around the lake as well where you can sit down and relax in the park. It seems that Gaudí participated in the design of the waterfall and decorative elements.
Catalonia's parliament is located inside the Ciutadella Park and it is a building with an incredible architecture and goes back to XVIII when it was built as part of the military complex to repress the city. The building functions as a Parliament started hand in hand with democracy.
I always thought that is interesting that a building that was used to repress the population and in Catalonia was especially hard, it ended up being a democratic institution since 1980 until nowadays.