The 42k of the Zurich Marató Barcelona are an open-air museum, largely thanks to Modernism, the artistic current that filled the streets of Barcelona with fine buildings and monuments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement, headed by Antoni Gaudí, who conceived architecture as a complete work of art, created some of the most emblematic buildings in the city that are now World Heritage Sites and a source of inspiration and admiration for many people.
MNAC and the Antiga Fàbrica Casaramona. Km. 0 and 42
Inside the majestic Palau Nacional de Montjuïc, which is part of the start line photo, is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC), the museum of Modernism in Barcelona par excellence, with paintings, sculptures and key decorative art works from the movement. For its part, the old Casaramona textiles factory, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, is now known as ‘CaixaForum’ and is home to exhibitions.
Mercat d’Hostafrancs. Km. 1
It was built in 1888 in the Modernist style using cast iron as part of the markets plan for the city of Barcelona. It was designed by the same engineer who was behind the Mercat de Sant Antoni, Antoni Rovira i Trías. Across the street is are the offices of the district of Sants-Montjuïc, which stand out for their stained-glass windows. Both buildings are located on the longest shopping street in Europe.
Casa Lleó i Morera. Km. 10
In the area known as the ‘Manzana de la Discordia’, you will find three other buildings, so if you are not out to set a personal best in the race you can slow your pace and enjoy the views. The first one is really elegant, and the rooftop terrace contains a templete (gazebo), a dome held up by a set of columns. During the Spanish Civil War it was used as machine-gun nest. It represents the beauty of small details, and around forty of the best artisans of the time worked on it under the orders of Lluis Domènech i Montaner.
Casa Amatller. Km. 10
Just before reaching Casa Batlló, you pass Casa Amatller, a building commissioned by the chocolate-maker Antoni Amatller to Josep Puig i Cadafalch, who made his own reinterpretation of the Gothic style. The façade is a magnificent composition of colours. The staggered roof evokes the shape of a classic chocolate bar and is one of the distinguishing features of the building.
Casa Batlló. Km. 10
Antoni Gaudí really let his imagination flow with this building. Inspired by Nature, it is a masterpiece of shape, colour and light. The roof is like an animal’s back with enormous iridescent scales. Right at the top are some large spheres that look like crests and evoke the figure of a dragon. Many people think Gaudí set out to represent the legend of Sant Jordi (St George) -the patron saint of Catalonia- killing the dragon.
La Pedrera. Km. 11
You only have to look to the left at the junction of Mallorca and Passeig de Gracia. One street further up, in Provença, stands this majestic work by Gaudí. Its official name is Casa Milà, although it is better known as La Pedrera, which refers to the cream-coloured white stone from the quarries of the Garraf and Vilafranca del Penedès. On the roof terrace there is a set of 7 chimneys that represent the heads of 7 mythological warriors who keep watch over the city.
Sagrada Familia. Km. 13
The icon of Barcelona par excellence. The ‘Basílica Expiatoria de la Sagrada Família’ (its full name) is possibly the most visited unfinished monument in the world. Building work on it stated in 1882 and it is the most emblematic creation of Antoni Gaudí. It is expected to be completed in 2026, to coincide with the centenary of the death of the great Modernist maestro.
Parc de la Ciutadella. Km. 35
A large green park with a wide variety of elements (museums, a lake, a waterfall, one-hundred-year-old vegetation, sculptures…). A young Antoni Gaudí took part in the construction of the fountain, which is crowned by a cast iron sculpture. It was the first of the city’s present parks to be designed specifically as a public space. The Ciutadella is also home to the start of the eDreams Mitja Marató (half-marathon) of Barcelona.
Arc de Triomf. Km. 36
It is a great feeling to pass under the arch when you can sense the finish line, just a few kilometres away. Built by Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas for the Barcelona Universal Exhibition of 1888, both the arch and Avinguda Lluís Companys are based on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, although with a marked Catalan Modernist style.
Casa Pascual i Pons. Km. 37
Next to Plaza Catalunya, coming in from Ronda de Sant Pere, we come across this work by Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia. Outstanding features are its glass windows –which can be seen from the outside– in which mediaeval figures are represented, the staircase with sculped ornamentation and iron and glass lamps, plus some noble wooden chimneys.
Palau de la Música Catalana. Km. 37
Just after crossing Plaza Urquinaona and going down Via Laietana along a very nice stretch of the race, look left to see this total work of art by Domènech i Montaner. It combines sculpture, woodwork, marquetry, mosaics and ceramics. On the façade you can see a sculpture representing an allegory of popular music, and its concert hall is very popular.
Mercat de Sant Antoni. Km. 40
After a decade of reforms, this market has recovered its shine -while maintaining its basic character and image- and is a witness to the last few kilometres of the Barcelona Marathon. This historic Modernist-style building plays a big part in the life of many of the city’s inhabitants; it is quite common to see people getting together here to exchange picture cards or buy antiques.