Located about 4km from the city centre, Park Guell is one of a series of creations by the Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi.
The project started in 1900 when Count Eusebi Güell bought a tree covered hillside in the Gracia District and hired Gaudi to create a miniature garden city of houses for the wealthy. The site was called Muntanya Pelada (Bare Mountain) due to the fact that it had little vegetation with a few trees and was extremely rocky. The site however did already have a large country house call Larrad House (some refer to it as Muntaner de Dalt House) as well as impressive views over the city of Barcelona. It was also located next to a district of wealthy upper class houses of La Salut (The Health).
The idea was to build 60 triangular housing lots to provide for luxury accommodation hoping the attraction of fresh air away from the city would attract buyers. In the end only two houses were built, neither of which were designed by Gaudi, with one of them being a display home. They were finished in 1904 but withno Buyers coming forward, Güell convinced Gaudi to buy one and he moved in with his father in 1906. Güell also moved into the area in 1906 when he moved into Larrad House in an attempt to give the area some prestige. The house where Gaudi lived from 1906 until 1926 it today the Casa Museu Gaudi (Gaudi House Museum) museum and contains the works of not only Gaudi but some of his collaborators also.
Gaudi’s role was to design the gardens. It was Gaudi’s first adventure into landscape gardening and he managed to use the terrain that was available to him and add artificial caves, walkways and balconies fusing them so well that it’s almost impossible to see where nature finishes and man-made begins. Two gate houses flank the main entrance which opens to a flight of steps guarded by a mosaic dragon, the most iconic feature of the park. Above is the Sala Hipóstila, a forest of 84 stone columns, which was originally intended to be used as the estates market, and brightened by glass and ceramic mosaics.
Above the Sala Hipóstila is the gardens focal point,Gran Plaça Circular, a main terrace which is surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent known as the, Banc de Trencadis (Brittle Bench) said the be the longest bench in the world. The terrace was made by Josep Jujol, one of Gaudi’s collaborators, and the views over looking the city and the Mediterranean are incredible. Gaudi also designed the 3km (1.8mi) of pathways and roads which give access to the park using local stone so they would integrate into the landscape.
As with other Gaudi works, he also managed to incorporate many motifs of Catalan nationalism as well as elements from religious mysticism and ancient poetry.
A fairytale wonderland in one of Spain’s largest cities.
A guided visit to Parc Güell is available on;