Spain // Barcelona //

The Olympics on Montjuïc

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The main road through Montjuïc climbs around the hill and up to the city’s principal Olympic area, centred on the Estadi Olímpic. Built originally for the 1929 exhibition, the stadium was completely refitted to accommodate the 1992 opening and closing ceremonies, while to one side a vast terrace provides one of the finest vantage points in the city. Long water-fed troughs break the concrete and marble expanse, while the confident, space-age curve of Santiago Calatrava’s communications tower dominates the skyline. Around the other side, just across the road from the stadium, the history of the Games themselves – and Barcelona’s successful hosting – are covered in the Museu Olímpic i de l’Esport, Avgda. de l’Estadi 60 (Tues–Sat 10am–6pm April–Sept until 8pm, Sun & hols 10am–2.30pm; €4.50; t932 925 379, wmuseuolimpicbcn.com; mEspanya then 25min walk, or bus #193 or #50 from Avgda. de la Reina María Cristina).

The 1992 Olympics were the second planned for Montjuïc’s stadium. The first, in 1936 – the so-called “People’s Olympics” – were organized as an alternative to the Nazis’ infamous Berlin Games of that year, but the day before the official opening Franco’s army revolt triggered the Civil War and scuppered the Barcelona Games. Some of the 25,000 athletes and spectators who had turned up stayed on to join the Republican forces.

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