Barcelona’s great green lungs

  • Horta Labyrinth Park
  • Man taking a photograph of the vegetation in a park
  • People walking through a wooded area

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.

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.

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.

Thematic parks and gardens

These are green spaces dedicated to certain plant species, which gives them an important investigative and informative role in the field of botany. A good example of this are rose gardens.

Barcelona currently has three thematic gardens: the Cervantes Rose Gardens, the Jardins de Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer, dedicated to bulb plants, perennials and aquatic plants and the Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera, dedicated to cactus and succulent plants.

These parks and gardens are collections. In order to help further knowledge of the species that the parks specialise in, the services and equipment available are only intended for uses that are linked to the conservation and knowledge of these spaces.

Urban parks and gardens

These are the recreational areas within cities par excellence, in contact with nature and very close to the inhabitants. The appearance of these parks towards the middle of the 20th century is the most recent in urban areas and is now a key factor in urban planning.

This is the most common type of green spaces and they have services and equipment for all sectors of the public, from children to the elderly, and they are also generally used for sports practice or have picnic areas and allow for pleasurable leisure time.

The vegetation is also considered in function of these uses, with trees that provide shade in the relaxation areas and with different sections set apart with bush hedges, making quiet rest compatible with other activities. In this way, these spaces have become completely multipurpose.

The Parc Diagonal Mar, Parc del Nus de la Trinitat, Parc de l'Espanya Industrial and the Jardins de Joan Brossa are large urban parks and gardens in Barcelona.

Forest parks

Generally, forest parks are situated in the spaces between the city and its non-urban environment. In this sense, Barcelona's case is classic, with forest parks that have come of the absorption of the Collserola mountain range into the city and with the parks that are located at the base of Montjuïc Mountain.

These parks are usually of a considerable size and with typical mountain vegetation, which in Barcelona's case is Mediterranean. They are pine and oak forests with a rich forest floor, as species that are not native to the climatic zone have been introduced due to the ideas of gardening; these species also often enjoy an important presence.

They are places full of pathways to walk, practice sport, play with dogs, spend a day or have a snack in the picnic area, and, in Barcelona, to enjoy the magnificent city views from the vantage points. In Barcelona, good examples of these are the Parc del Guinardó, the Parc Turó de la Peira and the Mirador del Migdia.

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.

Spaces of special interest for biodiversity

Spaces of special interest for biodiversity consist of combinations of trees, shrubs and grasses, planted on soil rich in organic material and soil fauna and offer shelter and food to several species of animals.

Flowers that attract pollinating insects, such as butterflies, and types of fruit that nourish birds, especially in the winter when food is scarce and such fruit represents an important part of their diet.

Stones and trunks grouped provide shelter for insects and lizards and some of these spaces contain so-called hotels for biodiversity that offer nesting places for bees in particular.

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.

Share this content