There had been a growing interest in practising sport in Barcelona from the mid-19th century, and enthusiasm at the idea of hosting the Olympic Games began to emerge in the early 20th century. In 1929, Montjuïc Stadium was completed, coinciding with the International Exposition taking place in the Catalan capital. The 50,000-capacity stadium was also intended to be a host venue for the Olympic Games 1936, for which Barcelona was a candidate city but which were eventually awarded to Berlin. During this period, the stadium hosted a range of sports events, including major boxing matches that drew crowds of 40,000 people and the 2nd Mediterranean Games in 1955. However, it subsequently fell into disuse, to the extent that there were plans for it to be knocked down in the 1970s.
But the Olympic dream was revived in Barcelona at the start of the 1980s. With a view to submitting a potential Olympic Games candidature, the decision was taken to renovate Montjuïc Stadium, while continuing the development of the site on the hill of the same name. Plans were established for the sports facilities that would be built, and in 1983 the city invited several teams of renowned architects to submit proposals. Following the contest, the various projects for the site, including the renovation of the stadium, were divided up among most of the architect firms in contention.
As part of the restoration work, which began in 1985, the only part of the stadium that remained unchanged was the outer façade, due to its historical value. The inside of the stadium was completely redesigned and the capacity increased: the lowering of the field by 11 metres made it possible to install new rows of seating at the bottom of the stands. Barcelona was finally awarded the Games in October 1986.
The hill of Montjuïc, where the stadium was located, also housed other important competition venues that were used for the Games, and thus became the focal point of the event. An esplanade in front of the main buildings, including the stadium, provided an open space for the large crowds.
Surrounded by the stadium’s old façade, the stands form an oblong shape, with two long stands facing one another along the sides and two curved stands at either end of the field. Only the west stand is covered. While the old roof had been mounted on a row of pillars erected in the stands, the new roof, installed as part of the renovation work between 1985 and 1989, was supported by a metal beam fixed into the façade behind the stands. This new overhanging structure, 150 metres long and 30 metres wide, did not affect the spectators’ view.
The architects’ work seamlessly fused together the old neoclassical façade with the modern features that were needed to host the Games, which had been added during the renovation of the stadium. The façade underwent restoration work and the sculptures by artist Pablo Gargallo which decorated it were taken down, fully restored and remounted.
I think the marvellous thing about the Olympic Stadium is the combination of modernity and history they have managed to combine in the new design.Coloman Trabado Australian track & field athlete and double Olympic medallist (400 metres).
AFTER THE GAMES
A multipurpose building, the stadium has hosted a range of cultural and sporting events since the Games, including rugby and football matches. Spanish national team friendlies have been played there, and Espanyol used the stadium as their home ground between 1997 and 2009. Major athletics events have also been held there: the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Grand Prix Final in 1991, the 2010 European Championships and the World Junior Championships in 2012. Other events organised in the stadium have included several Monster Jam editions and a “Snow Show” in 2009. Since 2016, the stadium has been used as a sports theme park, with over 20 activities on offer for visitors of all ages.
OCOG Barcelona '92
DID YOU KNOW?
- The Opening and Closing Ceremonies might not have been held at Montjuïc Olympic Stadium. Indeed, when the preparatory studies were being conducted for these two events, FC Barcelona’s famous stadium, the Nou Camp, was envisaged as a potential venue as it had a larger capacity.
- An inflatable version of the stadium – 10.5 metres high and with a surface area of 435 m2 – was used as part of a travelling exhibition to promote sport and the Games, entitled “Barcelona'92, everyone's goal: the Olympic project in your city”.
- « A little history », website of the Montjuïc Lluís Companys Olympic stadium.
- « History – Brief History », website of the RCD Espanyol.
- « Le stade olympique de Montjuïc : 60 ans d’histoire (I) », Barcelona Olympic News, COOB’92, n° 5, July-August 1989, n. p.
- « Les compétitions de la Ve Coupe du monde d’athlétisme ont inauguré le stade olympique », Barcelona Olympic News, COOB’92, october 1989, n° 7, p. 7.
- « Open Camp – The Sports Theme Park », barcelonaconnect.com website.
- Rapport officiel des Jeux de la XXVe Olympiade Barcelone 1992, COOB’92, Barcelona, 1992, vol. 1, pp. 201, 204, 210, 227-229, 250-252, vol. 2, pp. 31, 158, 160-162, 202, 204, vol. 3, pp. 35.
- “The Fifth World Athletics Cup opens the Stadium”, Barcelona Olympic News, COOB’92, October 1989, no. 7, p. 7.
- The Olympic Stadium Symbol of Barcelona’92, COOB’92, 1989, pp. 9-10, 14, 17-18, 28, 30-31.
|Name:||Montjuïc Stadium was renamed Montjuïc Olympic Stadium for the Olympic Games. On 31 March 2001, its name was changed to the Lluís Companys Montjuïc Olympic Stadium, after the former Catalan politician and President.|
|Location:||Montjuïc Park, Barcelona, Spain|
|Status in 1992:||Renovated in view of hosting the Games. In use today.|
|Designers:||Initial construction: Pere Domènech i Roure (architect)
Renovation: Vittorio Gregotti, Frederic Correa, Alfons Milà, Carles Buxadé and Joan Margarit (architects)
|Cost:||65 million pesetas|
|Dimensions:||Approximately 205m long and 110m wide|
|Additional information:||The competition area comprised a central lawn of 7,300m2. A 60m warm-up track for the athletes was installed below the stands.|
|Construction:||Initial construction: from 5 April 1927 (first stone laid at a ceremony attended by International Olympic Committee President Henri de Baillet-Latour) to May 1929
Restoration work: 1985 to 1989
|Official opening:||Initial construction: 20 May 1929 (inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII to coincide with the Barcelona International Exposition)
Renovation: 8 September 1989 (inaugurated by King Juan Carlos I for the 5th World Cup in Athletics)
|Events during the Games:||Athletics (including the finish line for the two marathons and the 10km, 20km and 50km race walks).
Opening and Closing Ceremonies.