Parc de la Ciutadella
The Parc de la Ciutadella is a park on the northeastern edge of Ciutat Vella, Barcelona. For decades following its creation in the mid-19th century, this park was the city's only green space. The 70 acres (280,000 m2) grounds include the city zoo, the Parliament of Catalonia, a small lake, museums, and a large fountain designed by Josep Fontserè (with possible contributions by the young Antoni Gaudí).
The main attraction was, from its establishment, the zoo. This was due to out of the 7,000 animals present. Near the zoo's entrance, a climbable gigantic stone mammoth is to be seen, as is a metallic cat in another area of the park. One half of the park's paths are sinuous and rather natural seeming trails, and the other half ordered and parallel. Along both, huge a variety of vegetation is displayed.
The Cascada (waterfall or cascade in Spanish) is located at the northern corner of the park opposite to the lake. It was first inaugurated in 1881 without sculptures or any meticulous details, and was thereby criticized by the press, after which this triumphal arch was thoroughly amended by the addition of a fountain and some minor attributes, which required six years of construction from 1882 to 1888, and was thenceforth put on display at the Universal Exhibition, and hitherto not been redesigned. It was erected by Josep Fontsére and to a small extent by Antoni Gaudí, who at that time was still an unknown student of architecture. Fontsére aimed to loosely make it bear resemblance to the Trevi Fountain of Rome.
Two enormous pincers of gigantic crabs serve as stairs to access a small podium located in the centre of the monument. In front of it a sculpture (designed by Venanci Vallmitjana) of Venus standing on an open clam was placed. The whole cascade is divided in two levels. From the podium on a path leads to the Feminine Sculpture and to the northeastern corner of the park, and upon following the route down the stairs the fountain's pond is rounded and the southern tip of the artifact is reached.
The lake characterizes the park as a scenery enjoyable for romantics. The lake's location, surroundings, and visitors turns this big sector into a rather convivial place, in which little turtles can be found on rocks, and fishes dashing through the water. Just next to it lies the thickest and most beauteous vegetation that can be spotted in the green areas of Barcelona. There is a locally somewhat famous tree which grows inside the water and separates from the other due to its attractive form and its propagation of bananas.
The zoo of Barcelona is located in the park of the ciutadella due to the availability of a few buildings which were left empty after the Universal Exposition of 1888. It was inaugurated in 1892, during the day of the Mercé, the patron saint of the city. The first animals were donated by Lluís Martí i Codolar to the municipality of Barcelona, which gratefully approved of their accommodation in the zoo. Nowadays, with one of the most substantial collections of animals in Europe, the zoo affirms that their aim is to conserve, investigate, and educate. From 1966 to 2003 the zoo was home to the famous albino gorilla Snowflake, who attracted many international tourists and locals.
Apart from the usual visits, different types of guided tours or other activities are offered, like for example 20 types of diversionary workshops, excursions and fieldtrips for schoolchildren, or personnel training and educational courses in zoology for adults. More than 50,000 children visit the zoo on an annual basis, which is the reason for the zoo's emphasis on education.