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The Barcelona Sundial Trail

Thispage was originally compiled in 1997 with the kind assistance of Josep Maria Vallhonrat (vallhonrat_josepmaria@trad.upf.es) of the Societat Catalana de Gnomonica (Catalan Sundial Society). It has been extensively revised in 2006 with the assistance of Conxita Bau of the Society. Many thanks to both!
  1. The tour starts at the Hotel Arts, which is a striking modern hotel in a tower block near the sea front in the Vila Olympica. The nearest Metro is Ciutadella - Vila Olympica. (You can buy a day ticket which will take you on all the trains and buses in Barcelona at any Metro station - it cost 5 Euros in 2006. Walk eastwards along the Esplanade, past the very large marina. You then come to a section of beach, with a breakwater at its far side. When you reach it (it takes about 10 minutes from the Metro) there ias a large circle at the landward end of the breakwater, and on it this large bifilar sundial between it and the sea. This sundial was designed by Rafael Soler who has built many sundials in the Balearic islands. Two shadows are cast by the top edges of two metal plates, one with a horizontal top edge and in the plane of the meridian and the other, at right angles to it, with a parabolic upper edge - the time is given by the intersection of the two shadows
    Sundial Trail of Barcelona - sundial by Rafael Soler Sundial Trail of Barcelona - sundial by Rafael Soler

  2. Sundial Trail of Barcelona - human gnomon sundialReturn to the Hotel Arts, and find the Metro station Ciutadella. Take the yellow line to Passeig de Garcia, and then change to the green line to Maria Christina. Cross the road (Diagonal) to the grass plot on the other side, where there is an interesting analemmatic sundial, where the gnomon is formed by a human being standing on the appropriate month spot. This one is unusual because it acturally shows the figure-8 shape of the analemma, with spots marked on it for each month

  3. Sundial Trail of Barcelona - sundial on churchTake a 74 bus for 8 stops along Carles III, Ronda del General Mitre to the Placa de Lesseps (or you can return on the green Metro line to de Lesseps, though its a rather roundabout route). On the junction of Mitre and Avenida de Argentina, there is an old and rather dilapidated church, with a sundial under the statue of the Virgin. The church and sundial, have recently been restored.



  4. Sundial Trail of Barcelona - Traversia de DaliAfter this we can walk. Continue 3 blocks along the Traversia de Dali. On the left hand side there is a small park, and at its far corner is a house, originally a farm house in open fields and now an old people's home, which has a handsome sundial painted on the stucco.

    This is a good opportunity to divert to see the Parc Gruell, one of the major works by the famous archtict Antonio Gaudi. The Parc Gruell was planned as a complex of houses in a park setting, but work stopped at Gaudi's accidental death. The park was later bought by the city council. It contains some strange structures in his distinctive style, and a loarge open area bounded by sinuous benches bounded by highly decorated benches. To reach it, follow the signs further along Traversia del Dali and then turn left up the hill to the Parc.



  5. Retrace your steps to the farmhouse and continue to the end of the block, then turn left down Grania to the end, and then left and immediately right down Carrer del'Alzira. This brings you in to Plaça del Nort. On the north side of the square is a fine old building which, in 1993, had a lovely sundial designed by Jorgi Nogué added.

    Sundial Trail of Barcelona -  Plaça del Nort Sundial Trail of Barcelona - Plaça del Sol scaphe dial
  6. Continue on down Carrer del'Alzira to the end, turn right on Robí, and then take the fourth road on the left (Carrer del Torrent de l'Olla). At the end of a very short street on your right (Carrer del Planeta) there is a square ( the Plaça del Sol). This has a very interesting scaphe dial, consisting of a hemisphecial bowl surrounded by three-dimensional signs of the zodiac, all tumbing over each other. It is a very elegant piece of work; the designer is unknown, but the bronze was cast at the Vila Foundry at Valls in Tarragona. Since 1996, this sundial has lost its gnomon, which is a great pity since it is one of the most interesting sundials in the city.

  7. Continue in the same direction (Carrer del Como) for six blocks till you reach the main avenue Diagonal and then left for a few blocks till you get to the intersection with Rossalio. This is the Casa de los Punkes, a very interesting house by Gaudi, which has a very striking sundial on it. n
This is the end of the original sundial trail. There are however 3 other sundials in Barcelona which you may like to visit if you have more time.

1. There is a very interesting sundial at the Cosmocaixa Science Museum. The museum is very new, and is one of the best science museum's in Europe with brilliant practical demonstrations of such physical processes as Foucault's pendulum, Brownian motion, wave motion and much else. The sundial consists of two large traingular steel plates, the junction of which forms the gnomon. To nearest Metro station to the Coasmocaixa is Tibidao - from the station, go two blocks north towards the funicular of Tibidao, and then turn left on Cuatro Caminos. TGhe entrance to the Museum is on your right just before the junction with Carrer de Cister.



2. Come out of the Museum through the main entrance on Carrer de Dali, turn immediately right and walk down some steps to Carrer TeodorRoviralta. The street curves round to the right, and reaches a cross roads with Carrer Romà Macaya. At the cross roads on your left is a restaurant "Asador de Aranda" which is highly recommended - it has a fine sundial on its gable.

3. The third sundial is in a completely different direction, at the castle at the very top of Montjuic. The nearest Metro station is Parallel, and there is a funicular railway which will take you up to the Castle. From the top, you have fantastic views over the whole of Barcelona. The castle is a military museum: you can see one of the two sundials from outside the museum, but you get a much better niew if you pay the admission fee and go inside. The museum is built round a courtyard, and some stairs take you onto the roof from which you can examine both sundials at close quarters. They both lack gnomons, and the stonework is in poor condition, but the magnificance of the view amply makes up for any deficiency in the dials!
For a full overview of Sundials on the Internet click here
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