The Montjuïc Communications tower is an iconic tower that was built in 1991 on the Montjuïc Hill, just southeast of the Barcelona city center. The gracious white beacon is characteristic of the architecture of Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish designer of the tower.
Barcelona built a number of structures at the Montjuïc Hill for the Olympics of 1992. One of the most eye-catching is the white slender communications tower that was erected between 1989 and 1991 at the Anella Olímpica (Olympic Ring) – the complex where most of the sports facilities were built – to transmit television coverage of the Olympic Games. The elegant tower soon became a symbol of the Olympics and the city of Barcelona.
The communications tower is also known as the Torre Telefónica – after the company that owns the tower – or the Torre Calatrava – after the designer of the tower, the celebrated Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava.
Calatrava designed a gracious and slender steel tower that soars 136 meters high (446 ft). The tower is set on a round brick platform which holds the telecommunications equipment. The design of the arched entrance to the platform is based on the shape of a human eye. The base is covered with ceramic shards, a mosaic technique known as trencadis. This technique was often used by the Modernistá architects; examples can be found all around Barcelona, and in particular at Gaudí’s Parc Güell.
The pylon, set at an angle of 17 degrees, is connected to a ring-shaped element which holds the transmitting dishes. Like many of Calatrava’s works, the whole tower is sparkling white.
People have compared the structure to an athlete holding the Olympic torch, a javelin thrower and a kneeling figure – a testimony to the dynamic nature of Santiago’s architecture.