Montjuïc’s highlight for many is the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona’s most adventurous art museum, opened in 1975 and set among gardens overlooking the city. Joan Miró (1893–1983) was one of the greatest of Catalan artists, establishing an international reputation while never severing his links with his homeland. He showed a childlike delight in colours and shapes and developed a free, highly decorative style – the paintings and drawings, in particular, are instantly recognizable, among the chief links between Surrealism and abstract art. Miró had his first exhibition in 1918, and after that spent his summers in Catalunya (and the rest of the time in France) before moving to Mallorca in 1956, where he died.

Inside the museum

Miró’s friend, the architect Josep Lluís Sert, designed the beautiful building that now houses the museum, a permanent collection of paintings, graphics, tapestries and sculptures donated by Miró himself and covering the period from 1914 to 1978. For a rapid appraisal of Miró’s entire oeuvre, look in on the museum’s Sala K, whose 23 works are on long-term loan from a Japanese collector. Here, in a kind of potted retrospective, you can trace Miró’s development as an artist, from his early Impressionist landscapes (1914) to the minimal renderings of the 1970s. Other exhibits include his enormous bright tapestries (he donated nine to the museum), pencil drawings and sculpture outside in the gardens. Young experimental artists have their own space in the Espai 13 gallery. There’s also a bookshop, and a café-restaurant (lunch 1.30–3pm, otherwise drinks, pastries and sandwiches) with outdoor tables on a sunny patio – you don’t have to pay to get into the museum to use this.

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