What to visit / Science trails / Botanical trail through Barcelona's Parc de Montjuïc / Carob trees, the fuel of the past
  • Carob trees. Botanical trail through Barcelona

  • Carob trees. Botanical trail through Barcelona

Carob trees, the fuel of the past

If you follow the path from the car park next to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya to the Foixarda riding school, you'll come across two huge carob trees, which were growing on this site long before Montjuïc was landscaped. These typically Mediterranean plants were once part of the traditional agricultural landscape along most of the Catalan coast, and a few survive today. After the fields had been abandoned, the trees grew enormous canopies with branches that would touch the ground if they weren't pollarded. These carobs are not here by accident. In fact, they played a key role in the growth of the city.

Throughout Barcelona's history, Montjuïc hill has been the city's main source of building materials. Its rock, a high-quality sandstone, was quarried uninterruptedly from the time of the Iberians (4th century BC) until the middle of the 20th century. The blocks of stone, which were used in construction, were taken to the city on carts pulled by draught animals (mules, oxen…), which needed a great deal of energy. This explains why we find these trees dotted around Montjuïc. Their fruit – a giant legume, the carob bean – is an energy food that is high in sugars. It is currently used as a sweetener or chocolate substitute, but, in years gone by, it was a common food for livestock and people.

The fact that these carob trees were accessible during the journey from the quarries to the city meant that these indispensable animals could get the much-needed energy boost they needed. The fuel of the past was truly ecological!

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