Montjuic is an extensive hill overlooking the city of Barcelona. Its name comes from ‘mons judaicus,’ as it was the site of the Jewish cemetery in medieval times.
The castle was originally a fort built in 1640 around the lighthouse at the time of the Catalan Revolt. It was then extended during the Nine Years War (1689-1697).
It first saw action when it was attacked on 26th January 1641, by Castilian troops
It was captured by Charles Mordaunt, Lord Peterborough, on 17 September 1705, although Felipe V took it back on 25 April 1706, but lost it again on 12th May of the same year, until 12th September 1714, when it surrendered to Bourbon troops, a day that is (curiously) celebrated every year by Catalan secessionists.
In 1751 a new castle was built, this time with a moat, and 120 cannons were installed for dissuasive purposes.
On 13 February 1808, Napoleon’s soldiers entered Barcelona and on 29 February, stormed Montjuïc Mountain to capture the castle.
The castle has been a centre of civilian and military disturbances in Barcelona.
In 1842 Barcelona was shelled from the castle for the first of three times to crush a revolutionary uprising. Like many castles, there is a clear idea that the purpose is not to defend the inhabitants from an enemy without, but that the inhabitants are an enemy below.
In the 1890s, and again in the famous ‘Tragic Week’ of 1909, revolting workers were imprisoned there and the pedagogue Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia was executed there by a firing squad.
In 1919, another 3,000 workers were imprisoned and between 1936 and 1938 Nationalists were held there during the Civil war.
Altogether 173 people faced the post-war firing squads, including the President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, on 15th October 1940.
The castle remained a military prison until 1960, and then on 24 June 1963 Franco presided the inauguration of a military museum.
Today the museum is open to visitors and also shows films in the summer in the moat; occasionally of people being shot.