A stroll in these gardens, one of Parc de Montjuïc’s gems, is a real pleasure. The lush vegetation, the water dropping from the cascades and gently flowing between the broad side walls, tiled benches and small squares form a whole of exceptional beauty.
This was the first public rose garden to be created in Barcelona, and known as the Colla de l’Arròs or “Rice Group” garden. It is a place for spending time in, observing and gradually discovering the large number of details that shape it, with a harmony it would be difficult to beat. And its views of the city are even better.
At the beginning of the last century, the area now occupied by the Jardins de Laribal used to be a venue for public and private meetings, such as the ones held by the Colla de l’Arròs, or “Rice Group”, a cross between a culinary and a political group that enjoyed some influence in the Barcelona of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and which met in a small building located where the Museu Etnològic (Ethnology Museum) now is.
The upper part of today’s gardens once belonged to the estate of Josep Laribal, a prestigious lawyer whose name lives on with the gardens. The City Council acquired the estate in 1908 and founded a school there, the Escola del Bosc. Studies were also begun to develop and landscape Montjuïc, a comprehensive project initially entrusted to Josep Amargós.
The Jardins de Laribal, completed in 1922, are associated with a later event: the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. One of its curators was Francesc Cambó, who commissioned the French civil engineer and landscape artist, Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier, and his assistant, the young architect Nicolau M. Rubió i Tudurí, with the landscaping work. They created a new Mediterranean-based landscape style here.
The pre-existing vegetation – ranging from native plants to fruit trees from the mountain’s agricultural past – was integrated into the gardens with an original, revivalist gardening concept, which freely took its inspiration from bygone Arab gardens and the Granada villas known as cármenes, with a heavy presence of ceramic tiles, ornamental streams and cultivated flowering plants in flower boxes located on railings and parapets.
Mature, Mediterranean vegetation gives meaning to the gardens. These include Aleppo pines, stone pines, sweet bays, Seville orange trees and cypresses as examples of native species and eucalyptuses, Monterey cypresses and Himalayan cedars as non-native species. Three outstanding plane trees in Plaça del Claustre, near Passeig de Santa Madrona, were already there before Forestier designed the gardens.
The Generalife stairs are surrounded by large acacias and shrubs such as privet, cheesewood, oleanders and Japanese spindle, while the elegant leaves of aspidistras and geraniums, wisterias and Lady Banks’ roses (Rosa banksiae) shine from their terracotta flower pots . Several areas of the gardens have aromatic plants, such as lavender and rosemary, and creepers such as common ivy.
Landscaping and Design
These are spaces of great historical importance, made up of terraces, paths, small squares, small ponds and abundant, consolidated vegetation. Exposed brick pergolas, stone and while pillars shade the flatter areas.
To connect the upper part of the park with the Jardins del Teatre Grec, Forestier designed a series of steps that took their inspiration from the ones in the Jardins del Generalife, with water flowing down the bannisters, pools with fountain jets on the landings and stone benches for resting on, enjoying the fresh air and sound of the water. In fact, water is the essence of these gardens, with their ponds and pools.
Mirador pergolas lead from one garden to another, joined by ramps, steps and cascades that end up at the Font del Gat or “Cat Fountain”, where visitors can admire magnificent views of Barcelona.
They cover the slope that descends from the highest part of the gardens to Passeig de Santa Madrona and take in the popular Font del Gat and a 19th-century building. What you have is a series of paths, terraces and secluded spots adapted to the lie of the land through stairs and a monumental waterfall with four sections separated by paths and canals that gradually link up the various areas.
All this is covered by lush Mediterranean leaves and fruit trees, such as loquat trees, fig trees and palm trees with huge boughs.
If you go further into the gardens, you will come across a circle of cypress trees with a small fountain at the centre, marking the start of a route that takes visitors to a closed-off oval-shaped courtyard that is also surrounded by cypresses: this is the Colla de l’Arròs rose garden. The garden has the feel of an open courtyard, where old varieties of rose bushes have been planted in several rectangular flowerbeds.
Art and Architecture
Sculpture is a notable feature of these gardens, both for its quality and beauty. The gardens are dominated by Jaume Otero’s Estival (Summertime, 1929), a seated female figure made from marble in the Art Deco style.
Another work there is Josep Viladomat’s La noia de la trena, (1928), another female nude, this time made from bronze, representing a young girl plaiting her hair. The third sculpture, also by Josep Viladomat, is of a woman, based on an original by Manolo Hugué. This is Repòs (Rest, 1925), a life-size, female nude made from stone and standing in a circular square close to the entrance next to the Joan Miró Foundation.
There is a glazed ceramic fountain near the rose garden, decorated with sea motifs and crowned by a fountain jet designed by the ceramicist Llorens Artigas. The gardens house a famous fountain, the Font del Gat, which was a very popular among the city’s residents during the latter part of the 19th century. Its water flows from the head of a cat sculpted by Joan Antoni Homs in 1918.
- Pg Santa Madrona, 2
- El Poble-sec
- Post Code:
- Centro público
|De l'1 de novembre, al 31 de març||Tots els dies||de 10:00h a 19:00h||Hora de tancament|
aproximada,en funció de
l'horari solar (tanquen
quan es fa fosc, al capvespre)
|De l'1 d'abril, al 31 d'octubre||Tots els dies||de 10:00h a 21:00h|
- Pg Santa Madrona, 2