The Estadi Olímpic as a nexus of the city
Two years: 1929 and 1992 mark two of the most extraordinary moments in the city’s history: the International Expo of 1929 and the Olympic Games of 1992. Two key events for the city’s modernisation and progress, giving it a truly universal profile. As a common link between these two events: Montjuïc Stadium.
Impressive and versatile
Conceived by the architect Pere Domènech i Roura, the stadium was officially inaugurated on 20 May 1929 with a rugby match between Spain and Italy, three knock-out rounds of the 100-metre sprint and a football match between the Catalan national side and Bolton Wanderers.
From that moment on the stadium would host top-class sports events and other events which would make it a formidable, multi-purpose venue: athletics, football, rugby, motor sports (motorcycles, cars and dirt track), final stages of cycling tours, boxing, fencing, hockey and baseball. The stadium’s most glorious moment came in 1955 when it hosted the Mediterranean Games.
The dream fades away
Barcelona had demonstrated its Olympic vocation from very early on in the 20th century. It first did so in 1920 and tried again in 1924. With its options completely disappearing after the Olympic Games went to Paris in 1924, Amsterdam in 1938 and Los Angeles in 1932, the city relaunched its Olympic aspirations with a new bid to organise the event in 1936.
Yet the city’s aspiration of being the Olympic host would again fade away, this time because of the Civil War. The stadium shifted from having a sporting role to a social one. In 1936 the stadium was used as a refugee centre due to the Civil War, and later provided shelter in 1957 and 1958 for those affected by the floods in Barcelona in those years. In 1965 it was used as a venue for driving licence exams. It was also used for religious ceremonies.
"A la ville de...Barcelona!"
Montjuïc Stadium fell into disuse for many years. Yet the stadium had been conceived with an Olympic vocation and that dream became reality on 17 October 1986, when Barcelona was proclaimed the winning candidate to hold the Olympic Games of 1992.
Work was carried out between 1985 and 1989 to remodel the stadium. The entire stadium was revamped. It was given a new infrastructure, a first-class facility, with greater capacity, a central area with natural grass and an athletics track. The level of the original track was lowered by 11 metres and the stone which was excavated was used to help build the Sagrada Família temple. Everything was rebuilt. Everything, except for the façade which would remain as a testimony to Barcelona’s historical Olympic vocation.
The second inauguration of the Olympic Stadium was on 8 September 1989, with the 5th IAAF Athletics World Cup. As the venue used to host the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics events, the stadium became the star of the 1992 Olympic Games and Paralympics.
Milions of experiences!
After the games, the stadium hosted numerous events of all types: sports, major international tours, business initiatives and city events.
Millions of spectators have witnessed the 1,000 plus events held at the stadium since 1992.
The biggest international artists and groups: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Beyoncè, Ed Sheeran, AC/DC, Guns N’Roses, Metallica and more.
Home stadium for RCD Espanyol (1997- 2009), for the Barcelona Dragons (1991-2001), athletics championships, football matches, American football, rugby, the X-Games, the Snow Show, city fun runs (Cursa dels Nassos, Cursa Lluís Companys, Breakfast Run, Cursa de El Corte Inglés...).
Family events: Festa dels Súpers, Monster Jam. School activities: Raid Atlètic, Dansa Ara, Steam. Product presentations, team-building activities, publicity shoots.
All of these form part of a living stadium, which fulfilled its dream and continues along its path, making history in Barcelona.