Barcelona is home to some of the most marvelous structures and incredible architecture in the world. And, it is a well-known fact that much of the city’s beauty comes from the imagination of one of the greatest and most interesting architects to have lived, Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí, a Catalan-native, is best known for his colorful naturalist and modernist designs, especially those dotted around the Eixample area of Barcelona. From the Sagrada Familia – his unfinished masterpiece – to La Pedrera and many more, visitors flock to the city to marvel at the amazing works of this architectural genius. So, after you’ve explored Palau Güell and Casa Batlló, head out of the city center to take in some fresh air and amazing views of Barcelona from the famous Park Güell!
Park Güell – A Rich History
Park Güell, one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Barcelona, is one that carries an interesting story. Originally intended as a housing site for Barcelona’s aristocrats, Count Eusebi Güell commissioned none other than Antoni Gaudí to create the designs for this stylish 42 acre space during the early 1900’s. Güell wanted this area to cater to the wealthy, granting them a chance to enjoy both the fresh air and magnificent views of the city. But the plan failed, and instead, Park Güell offers the same luxury to millions of tourists and local residents…and we couldn’t be happier!
A trip to Park Güell offers a serene escape from the bustling Las Ramblas, as well as an in-depth look at the signature styles of this famed architect. From the moment you enter the park it is evident that you have stepped into Gaudí territory, as you can see its colorful and fantastically shaped rooftops above, as well as the most famous monument in Park Güell: the Dragon Fountain. Situated at the entrance of the park, this magnificent fountain is a brilliant display of Gaudí’s signature mosaic-style. The distinctive method he uses, known as ‘trencadís’, can be described as joining together bits of broken tiles, dishes and glass to create astonishing art, and Park Güell is a true homage to these unique designs.
Gaudí, an architect known for his elaborate use of natural shapes, proved that his designs would remain groundbreaking for centuries to come. Naturalism, his other signature style, can best be seen in the twisted rock pillars that line the walkway in Park Güell. Many argue that Gaudí’s intention was for the pillars to symbolize large tree trunks, as the naturalist and animal themes were his biggest inspirations during this creative design.
The focal point of Park Güell is the main terrace from where breathtaking views of the city await you. Flanked by a long bench, made from the multi-colored mosaic tiles in the form of a sea serpent (following the animal theme seen throughout the park) this seating area in Park Güell offers a relaxing way to unwind as you look out over the beautiful area and all the vivid designs that surround you!
The Sala Hipòstila is another area of the park that should not be missed on your visit! Perhaps one of the most stylish parts of the park, intended to function as a marketplace, the Hypostyle Room is host to a mass of tree trunk-style Doric columns that serve to hold up the roof as well as drain rainwater through their hollow cores to a reservoir below. Even more mosaic designs await you here…this time on the ceiling!
Be sure to hike up to the highest part of the hill where the Calvary awaits – three stone crosses can be found at the top where Gaudí had originally planned to build a chapel.
The Gaudí House Museum, where the famous architect resided for almost 20 years, is host to a collection of furniture and objects designed by Gaudí himself. The house has four floors, with the ground and first floor open to the public, and the basement remaining closed.
Besides the furniture on display, visitors can also marvel at the paintings, drawings and the wrought iron elements exhibited in the garden, believed by many to be the most valuable of the collection.
So, why don’t you make a day of it and head toward the outskirts of the city and visit Park Güell? For those families visiting Barcelona with kids, we recommend grabbing a picnic basket and enjoying a day under the Spanish sun! With numerous picnic tables, you can enjoy a traditional Spanish ‘bocadillo’ (sandwich) as you surround yourself with Gaudí’s magnificent work.
How to get there:
By Metro –Lesseps (L3) and follow the signs to the park.
By Bus – 24, 31, 32, H6, 92 from Plaça Catalunya
Admission Fee: As of 25th October 2013 entrance to the park will cost 8€ per person, with discounts for children and adults over 65 years old. For more information go to the Park Güell website.