These gardens, which began life as a rose garden, are one of several green spaces created on Montjuïc for the 1929 International Exposition.
These gardens, which began life as a rose garden, are one of several green spaces created on Montjuïc for the 1929 International Exposition. An old quarry allowed the construction of an amphitheatre that now hosts many of the Barcelona Grec Festival performances every summer. It is a sunny spot, with geometric flowerbeds, pergolas and terraces, from where visitors can admire the landscaped mountain and the city.
As you walk up Passeig de Santa Madrona, you will encounter a large, stone, imperial staircase that rises up either side of a wall. This is the main entrance to the gardens. From here you can see some of their main features: the pergola, the old pavilion and the sloping trimmed hedges with tall trees behind them.
Jardins del Teatre Grec is the current name of the Roserar Amargós, a rose garden that used to be part of a garden complex built on Montjuïc for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. This was named after the first architect to landscape Montjuïc, Amargós, but the gardens were designed by the French civil engineer, Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier.
The main purpose of the Roserar Amargós was to connect the large Plaça del Solstici – originally part of the Jardins de Laribal but now the site of the Fundació Miró – to the lower part of Passeig de Santa Madrona and the 1929 International Exposition’s buildings located in that area, bridging a difference of 44 metres in ground levels.
After 1979, when democracy returned to Barcelona City Council, the site regained its artistic and landscape splendour, becoming the main venue for Barcelona’s summer festival: the Grec Festival.
Climber plants are the first thing you encounter when you reach the gardens, just before you go in: a large bougainvillea that brings colour to the wall at the main entrance, with stairs going up either side.
The Jardins del Teatre Grec are highly geometric gardens, with species that structure their layout. On the rectangular terrace closest to Passeig de Santa Madrona there are flowerbeds full of lavender. They share their space with Seville orange trees, African lilies and Natal lilies.
The geometric flowerbeds are bounded by small boxwood hedges. Common ivy fills the row of flowerbeds shaded by the pergola and several species of landscaped, flowering roses decorate the sunbathed flowerbeds that cover the large esplanade.
On the pergola that precedes the large upper terrace you will find jasmine and rose bushes, while the walls you come across as you go up to the highest part of the gardens are covered in ivy and Virginia creepers. The large upper terrace is notable for its ash trees, which mark the boundary of the part nearest to the neighbouring Jardins de Laribal, and the cypresses, some very tall, that are spread around the esplanade, mark out spaces and define paths. A large semi-circle of solid, tall holm oaks surrounds the upper part of the amphitheatre, separating it from the rest of the garden.
Two trees are listed in Barcelona’s Catalogue of Trees of Local Interest. On the left of the amphitheatre there is a pyramid tree, popularly known as “pica-pica” (prickly) due to the irritating hairs of its seeds, and on the path that joins up the Jardins del Teatre Grec with the Jardins de Laribal there is a large coral tree. There are also terracotta flower pots containing either small geraniums or ferns.
Landscaping and Design
Once you have climbed the first flight of steps, you will see a path on the left bounded by wrought-iron railings that fence off the gardens and a slope full of vegetation leading up to a mirador terrace, where you can enjoy an exceptional view of Barcelona.
On the left of the mirador, you will find one end of the pergola which crosses the gardens, dividing them into two large sections either side of the stairs. Climbing plants are the central feature here.
If, after going in, you go up a second flight of steps and then walk to the right, you will find a terrace on a level slightly below that of the mirador, with one part of the pergola above. The terrace is rectangular, quite long and landscaped with geometric flowerbeds full of aromatic plants and Seville orange trees next to the balustrade facing Passeig de Santa Madrona.
Layers of earth, superimposed to level out the sharp incline of an old quarry, enabled the creation of the amphitheatre’s large terrace in the upper part of the gardens. This provides a place to walk and stay awhile during the Grec Festival performances. Above the terrace there is a raised area dominated by a pavilion that houses a restaurant during the theatre season. There is a small rectangular terrace in front of this building with a pool that feeds the pool below, on the large terrace. It is an excellent place for admiring all the flowerbeds.
Art and Architecture
The amphitheatre in these gardens, which gives rise to their current name, was built according to the traditional Greek model. It was designed by the architect Ramon Reventós and made the most of the slope of the old “Machinet” quarry, which had been worked by excavating the earth before a huge wall of extremely hard stone just where Montjuïc mountain starts to rise.
As for the building that houses the bar restaurant during the theatre season, this was originally the Music Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition.
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