What is known today as Parc Güell, was initially a housing project for the richer citizens of Barcelona. It was an idea engineered by entrepreneur Eusebi Güell that contracted Gaudi to do the design
Eusebi Güell gave Gaudí the assignment of drawing up plans for developing an estate for well-off families on a large property he had acquired in the zone known popularly as the Muntanya Pelada (bare mountain). Its location was unbeatable, in a healthy setting and with splendid views over the sea and the Plain of Barcelona. Güell wanted to recreate the British residential parks, which is why he named it Park Güell, in English.
Gaudí respected the vegetation that was already growing on the property, such as the carob and olive trees, and when new species were introduced, he opted for Mediterranean plants that did not require much water. He also designed various systems for collecting and storing water, based on the irrigation systems he had learned about in the rural setting of his childhood. Both the vegetation and the management of the water resources thus helped to prevent the erosion of the land caused by the heavy Mediterranean downpours, while at the same time helping to provide the water needed by the estate’s inhabitants.
The first person to buy a plot in the Park, in 1902, was a friend of Güell, lawyer Martí Trias i Domènech, who commissioned architect Juli Batllevell with building his villa. At the same time, the works contractor, Josep Pardo i Casanovas, built a show house, designed by Gaudí’s assistant Francesc Berenguer, to encourage sales. Gaudí himself moved there in 1906 to live with his father and niece. Shortly afterwards, in 1907, Eusebi Güell converted the old mansion (Casa Larrard), that was already there when he bought the site for development, into his usual residence. Over those years, a large number of civic events were held in the great square, with the owner’s approval. Unfortunately, the complex conditions of sale at the time and the lack of a good transportation system led to a lack of buyers and the works were abandoned with only two of the 60 envisaged houses being built. The park became a large private garden which Güell allowed to be used for public events. Eusebi Güell died at his house in 1918, and the park was purchased by the City and was opened as a municipal park in 1926. The Güell family house was converted into a State school
Park Güell was recognised as an artistic monument in 1969 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
We loved touring this park, from the cloistered areas designed as an area for markets to the large terrace, lined with benches inlaid with mosaics of brightly coloured pottery pieces, offering spectacular views across Barcelona. Last time we visited it was a bit rushed but this time we had the leisure to wander the park and gardens and visit the gate-house, which resembles something out of a Dr Suess book. This is an amazing and wonderfully inspiring place to visit.
What to see
1. ROADWAYS, PATHS AND VIADUCTS
Throughout the park Gaudi created many walkways and viaducts from stone to blend in with the areas natural surroundings. The three main viaducts were built to overcome the natural topography of the area and they snake all around the park.
2. THE DRAGON STAIRCASE
You have probably seen the images of the popular mosaic salamander or dragon, all over Barcelona. It has become one of the most well-known images of the park. From entrance esplanade you will find two huge stairways leading to the Hypostyle room. On each side there’s two built grottos and on your way up you will spot the famous mosaic salamander, a fountain, a snake head and the Catalonian emblem and on the last landing, the Odeon bench. Make sure you admire the tile work crafted into the walls on your way up.
3. THE HYPOSTLE ROOM
From the Dragon Staircase you will reach the Hypostyle room. Here stands 86 Doric columns inspired by ancient Greece. They play a structural role as well, supporting the Greek Theater/Nature Square above. The ceiling is shaped into flowing domes where there are more spectacular mosaic work on display, created by Gaudi’s partner Josep Maria Jujol.
4. LAUNDRY ROOM PORTICO
Laundry room portico is an impressive walkway carved into the mountain’s stone just above Casa Larrad, the old Güell residence. It’s a great spot to hide from the sun in the hot Barcelona summer. Carved into one of the slanted columns is a statue of a washerwoman, again inspired by the Greek style of building female figures into columns. The best way to see the fine architecture of the portico is to stand on the ‘ramp’ that takes you up and down from Casa Larrad.
5. GREEK THEATRE /NATURE SQUARE
The Greek theater or Nature Square offers the best views of Barcelona. Supported by the Hypostyle room below, the vast open space was to be used to house plays and concert. The square is outlined by the surrealist serpentine bench with more gorgeous tile work. The bench is actually a balustrade designed with a dual function. It snakes its way in waves all round the square.
6. MAIN ENTRANCE AND PORTER’S LODGE PAVILLION
If you enter through the main entrance on Carrer d’Olot, you will find yourself walking through beautiful iron gates. Before going up the Dragon Staircase, take time to admire the two buildings on either side – the porter’s lodge and the porter’s residence. The roofs of these houses are absolutely stunning. The houses are built with traditional Catalan clay tiles and decorated with Gaudi and Jujol’s trencadís, a newly developed style of mosaic using shards of tiles.
7. AUSTRIA GARDENS
The Austria gardens are a vast green space that see the planned plots transformed. It was initially used as a nursery when the area was first converted into a public park. Austria donated trees to Parc Güell in 1977 and the garden was named after its sponsor.
8. GAUDI HOUSE
Gaudi stayed in this beautiful house for almost twenty years. It is now a museum and shines a light into Gaudi’s life. There’s various pieces of furniture that he designed on display as well as models of buildings he designed. It is important to note that this house was not designed by Gaudi and asks an extra entrance fee.
About Park Güell
|Address:||08024 Barcelona, Spain|
|Telephone:||T: +34 934 09 18 31|
|Hours:||From 9:30 h to 19:30 h|
Price: general entry 10€; over 65 years 7€; children aged 0-6 free; children aged 7-12 7€; disabled persons and accompanying person 7€.
Buy tickets online at https://parkguell.barcelona/en/buy-tickets
You need to be aware of the time of your entry as you only have 30 minutes around the scheduled time to enter the restricted area. They only let in 400 people at each time slot and the lines can still be quite long. If you miss your entry the ticket will be forfeited.
Getting to Park Güell
- You can reach the park by metro, bus or shuttle. The shuttle included in the ticket price will drop you at the main entrance in Carrer d’Olot.
- Metro: Ride the green line (L3) to Vallcarca or Lesseps station. It’s roughly a 20-minute walk up the hill. You can also use the escalator located on Baixada de la Glòria to help you up the hill and enter using the entrance on Avinguda del Santuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya.
- Bus: Use the H6 or D40 lines. It’s about 10 minutes walking time from the Travessera de Halt bus stop.
- Both the Bus Turístic and Barcelona City Tour has Park Güell as stops on their routes. They stop at the same stop and it talks about 10 minutes to reach the park, usually you ‘ll enter at Carretera del Carmel through Av. Pompeu Fabra.
Best time to visit Barcelona
The best time to visit the Barcelona is from May to June when balmy temperatures in the low to mid-70s mesh with a flurry of festivals that trumpet the advent of summer. The actual summertime is sticky with humidity – locals leave their beloved city in droves to catch a breeze somewhere else. They come back for the fall when the average highs drop back into the 70s. Winter is mild compared to other Spanish destinations, with highs in the high 50s. And while coming during the spring may seem like smart idea for avoiding crowds, April sees frequent showers, which may put a literal damper on sightseeing plans (most of Barcelona’s top attractions are experienced outside). Keep in mind that no matter what time of the year you’ll visit, there will be tourist crowds: Barcelona is the most-visited city in Spain.
Where to stay in Barcelona
1. MH APARTMENTS
We have stayed at with MH Apartments twice when visiting Barcelona.
The apartments work well for us when we travelled as a family and as a couple. The apartments were spacious and well equipped. We like to eat some of our meals in when we travel so having a full kitchen is very handy.
The checking in procedurehas been easy both times we stayed. If you travel by car then parking might be a challenge. It is likely you’ll have to find street parking (not easy) or a close by car park.
2. LIVE AND DREAM
Live & Dream features a minimalist white design throughout with bursts of color in bedding and furniture. This stylish guest house offers free Wi-Fi and internet connection throughout.
Sants Station is 8 minutes’ walk away and from here you can get the highspeed AVE Train or the train to the airport. Located 650 feet away, Plaça de Sants Metro Station offers direct access to the Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and the Ramblas.
The rooms at Live & Dream come with air conditioning.
3. BARCELONA CENTRAL GARDEN HOSTEL
BCG is an attractive middle sized hostel located just 3 blocks away from Plaça de Catalunya. It is a safe, friendly, clean and relaxing home away from home for genuine travelers and families. It is the perfect place to enjoy the city, with opportunity to meet new people and feel truly at home. This is not a party hostel’.
There is a comfortable lounge and kitchen area that faces onto a beautiful outdoor garden terrace.