These are one Europe's biggest gardens specialising cacti and succulent plants. Facing the sea and sheltered by Montjuïc, they are located on a privileged mirador, just a few minutes from the city centre.
The Mossèn Costa i Llobera Gardens offer a spectacular panoramic view of the city’s coastline and port. The refurbishment they recently underwent has made a considerable improvement to the central access point, previously used as a service entrance, with two new gates for visitors.
The gardens are a privileged outdoor classroom that allows visitors to discover the evolutionary strategies of succulent plants, which have created varieties specialising in low water consumption.
The Jardins Costa i Llobera are the result of a joint project by the architect Joaquim Maria Casamor and the gardening-school teacher, professional and expert in succulent plants, Joan Pañella. Work had already been going on for several years to adapt these species to the city. When the option of smartening up the part of Montjuïc that is now the site of the gardens was being considered, there was already an important collection of species originating from the Canary Islands, Andalusia and nurseries of other Mediterranean cities. Several plants had also come from the
Pallanca collection in Italy.
The Mossèn Costa i Llobera Gardens were officially opened in March 1970 but have gone through a long process of recovery, remodelling and restoration ever since. Thanks to structural consolidation and the replanting of a good number of plants damaged by the cold, the gardens are now back to their original splendour.
They offer a collection that is unique in the world: 3.16 hectares for a journey through some of the most exotic species found on the planet, not just in subdesert, desert and tropical areas but also in high mountain regions too.
Notable specimens found in these gardens include: aloe (
Aloe ferox) and short-leaved aloe (
Aloe brevifolia) from South Africa; Hudson pears
Cylindropuntia rosea from Mexico; African stone plants;
Xanthorrhoea from Australia;
Euphorbia resinifera from Morocco; large-sized
Cereus jamacaru from Brazil and barrel cacti
Ferocactus glaucescens from the Mexican State of Querétaro.
The gardens offer an extensive collection of cacti from the Echinopsis genus, including Echinopsis santiaguensis, which are native to South America (Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay). They grow in sandy and gravelly soil and are notable for the size and beauty of their flowers. They can vary from being tree-like to globose in form and have an especially tall flower tube. Other notable specimens belong to the Echinocactus genus. These are cacti from Mexico and the southern United States that have a woolly upper part, which blossom with very bright colours that range from yellow to purple pink. The name is derived from the ancient Greek for sea urchin ( echinus).
Echinopsis are not the only cacti there named after their shape. The gardens also have specimens of
Astrophytum miryostigma, which owe their name to their star-like shape and radiate extremely beautiful yellow flowers.
There is an extensive range of Ferocactus, popularly known as barrel cacti. They come from the deserts of California and Baja California, Arizona, southern Nevada and Mexico. They are shaped like wine barrels when they reach their adult stage.
Another type of cacti found in the gardens are Mammillaria. These are one of the most extensive genera, with over 350 recognised species. They grow in the shape of tubers. Their interiors store all the liquid they need for survival. These plants can be round or shaped like cones, cylinders or pyramids. Mammillaria are found in Mexico, the southern United States and the Caribbean.
The largest succulents in the gardens include adult specimens over five metres in height. All together, they make up a small forest. These are cactus-like plants belonging to the Euphorbia genus. There are species of Euphorbia in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and Madagascar.
Closer geographically, but no less exotic, are the specimens of dragon trees ( Dracaena draco), century plants ( Agave americana) and also prickly pear cacti ( Opuntia ficus-indica). One of the Mossèn Costa i Llobera’s dragon trees comes from a private garden in a neighbourhood of Barcelona, which gave it to the city.
The century plants come from Mexico and have adapted so well to the Mediterranean climate that they are now part of the marginal landscape.
Prickly pear cacti grow naturally along the whole Mediterranean coastline, but they are also found in Mexico, Peru and Argentina, which happen to be their countries of origin.
The gardens also offer an extensive variety of trees native to the Mediterranean climate, such as carob trees ( Ceratonia siliqua) and olive trees ( Olea europaea) as well as shrubs, from the fig genus ( Ficus sp), kurrajongs ( Brachychiton populneus), silk oaks ( Grevillea robusta) and patas de vaca ( Bauhinia grandiflora). You can find as many as 12 different species of palms, including date palms Phoenix dactylifera, from the arecaceae family and native to Arabia and North Africa, as well as Phoenix canariensis, Washingtonia filifera and Washingtonia robusta specimens. The gardens also contain the only species of palm that is native to Europe: the Mediterranean dwarf palm Chamaerops humilis.
Landscaping and Design
In 1987 a New York Times journalist ranked the Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera among the top ten of the world’s best gardens. The article also mentioned the journalist’s feeling of solitude during the visit to this exquisite collection of cacti and succulent plants. And 1987 had not exactly been a good year for this unique collection of rare botanical specimens: the winter had brought terrible frost, just when the collection had recovered from the impact of the previous severe frost in the winter of 1985. Climatic setbacks that led to a significant reduction in the number of species. When the gardens opened at the start of the 1970s, some 800 different species were growing there. During the winter of 1985 the city recorded temperatures of six degrees below zero, continuously, for nearly a week. The second frost, in 1987, proved a further blow, this time fatal, to many of the plants there, reducing the varieties by almost 40%. It also caused the sudden deaths of many of the plants replanted after the first frost two years before. And despite this hardly flattering scenario, the gardens still won acclaim as one of the best on the planet.
- Ctra Miramar, 38
- el Poble-sec
- Public center
de l'1 de novembre
al 31 de març
Tots els dies
de 10:00 h a 19:00 h
Hora de tancament
aproximada, en funció de
l'horari solar (tanquen
quan es fa fosc, al capvespre)
de l'1 d'abril
al 30 d'octubre
Tots els dies
de 10:00 h a 21:00 h
- Ctra Miramar, 38