Barcelona’s great green lungs
Entering a park is accessing a nature area within the city. This is its stature and importance in urban environments, though certainly this is not the only place where nature is present. Despite adverse conditions, life always opens its own path, adapts and moves forward. In this context, parks and gardens are of great importance, as they are the great green lungs that, together with the tree-lined streets, make cities fit to live in. See the list of parks and gardens.
In addition to their environmental role, parks and gardens have other important functions. They are places to meet, to build relationships, to spend leisure time and relax, and to learn about plants. We need them for taking walks, as a place to sit quietly and read for a spell while surrounded by vegetation, to practise leisure and sport activities daily in a lovely setting. We also need parks in order to have spaces nearby where we can enjoy nature that, although conditioned by the characteristics of the urban environment, forms part of it and creates scenery.
Barcelona enjoys an extensive network of parks and gardens that has grown significantly, in particular after the great urban renovations at the turn of the century. Any opportunity, big or small, is used to create more public space and make the city more green. This is essential in order to increase the quality of life of the people of Barcelona, to make Barcelona's parks and gardens a source of pride and to entwine them into the city landscape.
In addition to being natural spaces, introduced by man, city parks and gardens often have intrinsic cultural, historical and artistic values that make them extraordinarily valuable. This is the case with Park Güell and the University Gardens at the University of Barcelona.
According to their characteristics, the parks and gardens can be classified as historical, thematic, urban and forest. Each type serves a function and has, consequently, facilities and services in accordance with its specific uses.
Historical parks and gardens
Many of these parks find their origin in gardens from the 18th century and the majority were built or modified to their present-day structure between the middle of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. These parks and gardens are a very important part of a city's heritage, not only as a green space, but because they are a living element that allows us to get closer to the historical and cultural past. Likewise, they usually hold great botanical value, since they generally contain many specimens, in particular trees of exceptional age and size. The Parc del Laberint d'Horta (Labyrinth of Horta), the Jardins de Can Sentmenat and the Jardins del Palau Reial de Pedralbes are three of the historical gardens in Barcelona.
Their fragility and the need to preserve them as they are means that they often do not have services or facilities with purposes other than their conservation and contemplation. Thus they are above all places for strolling and being.
Gardens for biodiversity
Gardens for biodiversity are spaces with a special focus on improving the quality of the habitat in favour of the flora and fauna. In these areas a new environment is created to aid wildlife by planting plants and building shelters which attract birds, butterflies and other beneficial wildlife.