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The Exhibition prevailed over the Ciutadella

The information provided by this photograph allows us to understand the reality that was imposed on the still nascent Ciutadella Park due to the Universal Exposition of 1888.

General Prim handed over the Ciutadella on the condition that it be converted into a citizen park. The City Council called a competition to choose the best project. In 1872 the outstanding master builder Josep Fontserè was declared the winner.

The master builder’s project gave a clear priority to culture and nature

His proposal linked the whole with the Cerdà plot and gave prominence to French-style gardens.

Fontserè set out to obtain a result that would improve and dignify citizens through the notorious presence of nature and culture. He managed to set up a series of works: the Waterfall, the Vaqueria, the Umbracle, the Cafè and the Meteorological Column.


The Waterfall was the large theatrical piece that enhanced the pond; the result was a swooned imitation of the Palais Longchamp in Marseille. La Vaqueria allowed to offer freshly milked milk. The café will be demolished and replaced by the Domènech i Montaner building to be the restaurant and café of the Exhibition. The Umbracle and the Weather Column were the popular cultural nod to science.

The conflict occurred when a Fontserè in love with its The park realized that it was running up against the new interests that were emerging in the city. And it is that the Galician entrepreneur Eugenio Serrano de Casanova had appeared on the scene to offer the City Council, thanks to his international contacts, that Barcelona would be the headquarters of the Universal Exhibition in 1888.

And then Fontserè resigned, realizing that they were giving carte blanche to a project that not only deviated from the line that he had set for the park’s development, but would even damage it.

Serrano’s performance was soon revealed to be doomed, and Mayor Rius i Taulet pushed him aside and seized control.

The immediate result was that the park’s land was put entirely at the service of the interests of the Exhibition. This means that all the available space was occupied by buildings, whether they were official and private pavilions, or large booths of citizen entities. Given such a density, where were they going to put nothing less than the Eiffel Tower?

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