“ The ‘Parc Güell’ is another work of Antoni Gaudí. This great park should have been a luxury Villa, where houses for the richest families of the Barcelona bourgeoisie should have been built, but the sale of the houses was not as successful as e „
If you've read my previous review you'll know that earlier this year I found myself in Barcelona for a meeting with work and I tagged on a couple of days to allow myself to explore the city further. This was not my first visit to Barcelona - in the last three years I have visited 4 times either through work or on holiday with family. One of the places I really enjoyed visiting when on holiday was Parc Guell and so I decided to visit again.
Parc Guell was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi who designed a number of other Barcelona landmarks including the Sagrada Familla and Casa Batlo. His style is quite unique and playful, drawing its inspiration from nature and Gaudi's signature was the use of smashed up tiles to decorate his creations.
The park is located some distance from the city centre in the Gracia district of Barcelona. It was originally conceived as a housing estate, by Count Eusebi Guell, whom the park was named after. The idea was that as it was located on the outskirts of the city the area would not be affected by the smoke from the factories in the city centre and therefore be an ideal place for people to live. There were plans for 60 luxury houses, however the project was unsuccessful and only two houses were actually built, neither of which were designed by Gaudi himself. Gaudi bought one of the houses and lived there until his death in 1926. The park was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984. Entrance to the park is free, although there are a couple of museums within it that do have an entrance fee.
The nearest station to the park is Lesseps, which is probably around a mile away. The park itself is perched on a hilltop and walking towards it is quite a mission. The roads leading up to it are extremely steep and at points there is almost a 45-degree incline! It was certainly hard on the legs and in the heat of the day I found it quite hard going. Closer to the park there where the road is at its steepest there are a series of escalators to help you get up which I found quite a strange and quirky idea (where else have you seen escalators in the street?!) but one that my legs certainly welcomed!
Park Guell is not like those that are seen in the UK in that there is not a lot of grass or pretty flowers. Most of it consists of a series of dry and dusty trails that take you around the park. These trails are rough and not particularly well maintained so I'd recommend a pair of comfortable shoes and not sandals as with these your feet will not be protected and they will get very dirty! There are also some quite steep parts within the trail and some uneven steps to go up and down so it is quite physical. As I was walking around I could see views over the whole of the city - it was a particularly clear day and I could see for miles. It took me just over an hour to cover all the trails, which also took me past Gaudi's house. This now houses the Gaudi museum, which it is also possible to visit, though I didn't have enough time to do so. The trails themselves were fun to do but were not particularly picturesque. I started the trails mid-morning and by the end it was getting quite hot as there were no trees along the trail to provide shade from the sun.
**The main 'square'**
The trails finish onto a large 'square' whose focal point is the huge bench that lines the front of it. The bench resembles a sea serpent with its wavy design and is decorated with thousands of brightly coloured tiles that have been smashed up and stuck onto it as mosaics. There is space for around 40 -50 people to sit comfortably on the bench. The clever design means that each part of the wave provides seating for 2-3 people and they can sit and chat in relative privacy from people sitting in the next wave. This 'square' is still perched quite high up and sitting on the bench you can see some fantastic views over Barcelona and can see as far as the coast on a clear day. I was able to spot key landmarks such as the Sagrada Familla, Torre Agbar and Montjuic. I enjoyed spending time just sitting on the bench people watching and just soaking up the atmosphere as well as topping up on my tan!
The square itself is a hive of activity with people sitting and chatting or admiring the views. There are also street musicians/entertainers like the kind you see in most cities - the ones who dress up and stand still in various poses. There were not too many performers when I visited but there was quite an amusing incident where two performers had chosen spots next to each other and who were then arguing over the space they were working in. There was plenty of room for them to spread out and not encroach each others space but they still argued, which drew quite a crowd! I'm sure this is not the kind of attention they wanted! Along with the street entertainers were people who were selling their wares, which on the whole looked like cheap tat. I think the police in the area are cracking down on these street sellers as there were a couple of times where the sellers whipped up their stock and ran to hide in the bushes that line the side of the square!
To the side of the square are a series of covered walkways, which were originally conceived to be market areas. Gaudi's fascination with nature is also evident in their design as they consist of a series of pillars that resemble trees in a forest. Leading on from the square are a series of steps that lead you to another park entrance. As you climb down the stairs there is a sculpture of a dragon covered in small brightly coloured tiles that runs down the centre splitting the staircase into two parts. The lizard itself is actually a fountain. This was a great spot for a photo and as such was extremely crowded and I had to wait quite a while to get a good look at it. It is worth saying that it is also possible to enter the park from this entrance but it's a steep climb and there are no escalators on this side to help you up. I would recommend entering the park from the other entrance and leaving the park from here as it's always easier walking downhill!
**The fairy-tale houses**
At the bottom of the stairs, by the gates are two small houses. I guess these were originally where the gatekeeper would have sat but one now houses a gift shop whilst the other is a small museum. I did decide to have a quick look around the museum, which costs 2 euros to enter and gives some historical background to the park and displays photos and sketches of the original designs. I found the visit interesting and informative. It only took around 10 minutes to wander around and was well worth the 2-euro entry.
The houses themselves have a really unique design, with their unusual styled roofs and look rather like something out of a fairy tale. In fact they reminded me of the witches house in Hansel and Gretel which is made of sweets and cakes! There is certainly something innocent and magical about them that made me smile and also my mouth water! There is also a café with some outdoor seating opposite the small houses, which sells a basic selection of teas, coffees, drinks and snacks though I did not get anything from there.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the park. The trails were fun although quite tiring and I was able to see some spectacular views over the entire city. I really liked the design of the park; the serpent bench, the lizard on the stairs and best of all the 'Hansel and Gretel' houses. There is something quite magical about this park and it's somewhere I would certainly come back to should I find myself in Barcelona again.
This review has also been posted on ciao under my tecnomars username together with some photos.
Parc Guell in Barcelona is a park that was commissioned by Eusebi Guell as a place for Barcelona's aristocracy and it is a brilliant showcase of Antonio Gaudi's work, having been heavily designed by the later. We visited on a lovely hot summer's day, which is definitely the best time to go, although you won't be the only one visiting.
Built between 1900 and 1914 it is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called 'Works of Antonio Gaudi'. It was originally designed to be a residential area for the aristocracy rather like an English 'garden city'. This is why it is called Park with a 'K' and not with a 'C' as it is spelt in Catalan. It never served this purpose and only two houses were ever built and they both still stand at the main entrance to the park. To be honest, I can see why there was never any interest in them because, whilst they are quite interesting to look at, I think that they are possibly a little bit gaudy to live in.
The park is open from 10am every day and, although its closing times vary, it is usually open until around 7pm. Entry is free. Getting there is fairly easy. From the top of Ramblas you get an underground train or a bus. If you take the underground option, there is a fairly hefty walk uphill to contend with so if you don't fancy it the bus is the better option as it stops right outside the entrance. We actually went for the train because we were intrigued by the street escalators that were promised if we did. The walk from the train station is about 20 minutes and, as advertised there are street escalators. Just like the ones you find in run of the mill department stores, they were none the less quite novel being that they were outside. I actually found it oddly unsettling! Strangely enough, there are no escalators at the steepest part of the hill at the top - so in 30+ degree sunshine it wasn't the most pleasant of walks. It was definitely worth it though when we got there.
This route actually takes you to one of the side entrances of the park, so you don't get the intial view of Gaudi's finest work. What you do get however is an absolutely outstanding view over the whole of Barcelona. It was breathtaking (although in all honesty I can't be sure if it was the view or the hike to get there that had taken my breath away!). There is a nice stopping area at the side of the path here where you can take some good photographs and spot some of Barcelona's most prominent landmarks in the distance, including Sagrada Familia (Gaudi's other masterpiece; the unfinished church and the Camp Nou stadium, home of FC Barcelona). Further in the distance you can see the sea. It really is a wonderful view, made better by the fact you feel you've earned it by now.
Walking further along the path, which is fairly wide although pebble strewn so not suitable for those who are a little unsteady on their feet, you'll come to the park proper. Along the way there are a few little oddities including statues and odd shaped trees as well as hundreds of lizards, so it isn't a dull walk. The path is also fairly quiet compared to the rest of the park so you can enjoy a bit of peace.
Once we got into the main area, it became clear that Gaudi had achieved Guell's aim of creating an area for the aristocracy. The whole place was so opulent that I found it hard to believe I was standing in a public park rather than a rich person's house. The first sight to hit you is the hall of columns, which are a bit random because they seem to serve no specific purpose other than to make obvious the grandeur of the place. It did seem to provide a lot of fun for the younger visitors though who were having a whale of a time playing what could have been the world's best game of hide and seek. There was a rather interesting statue here when we visited, which consisted of a pair of black stockinged legs sticking out of a huge black feathery thing that looked like a person pretending to be a statue. It is very hard to describe, but it was so life like that people were stood around staring at it for ages to see if it moved. After a quick *ahem* altercation with hubby about whether or not it was real, I decided to, quite bravely actually, prod it. Aside from accurately proving my point that it wasn't a person, I think I relieved a lot of the people who had been standing there for goodness only knows how long!
Beyond the columns lies the main courtyard of the park. Completely covered by brightly coloured mosaic tiles and surrounded by a long bench that looks like a snake, this area is quite spectacular. It looks a bit like icing on a cake, which I think is exactly how you would describe Gaudi's thoroughly eccentric style. There are two houses beyond the area that look like little iced ginger bread houses. The whole thing looks like something out of a Hans Christian Andersen inspired tale. Set against the significantly more 'real' looking backdrop of the city, it makes for quite an eye catching picture. When we were there (and I think this is quite a common thing), there were various stalls set up selling souvenirs ranging from the artistic to the thoroughly tacky as well as a busker playing music that was quite fitting. The busker was dressed up as a court jester, which added to the feel that the place was designed for the rich and well to do and it made it very easy to imagine what it was like in times gone by. The benches around the edges looked welcoming after our strenuous walk and we went to sit down for a while. It was a very short while though as they were extremely hot under the sun and it was not very pleasant in shorts! There were other people there who had obviously experienced this before those because they had brought their own cushions to sit on. It was very odd sitting on them as well because they looked like they should have been quite spongy, but obviously they weren't being made of stone and all.
Going back to the two houses that I mentioned, neither of them was actually designed by Gaudi, although they both look like they could have been. One of them was intended to be a show home, but after no buyers came forward, Gaudi himself moved into it with his family. The house is now a museum that counts some of Gaudi's works amongst its exhibits. Entrance to the museum is five Euros fifty, with a one Euro discount for senior citizens, under eighteens and those holding a Barcelona Card. We didn't go into the museum because it was just too busy and too hot to be inside, so I'm afraid that I can't comment on what's inside. I will say though that there are enough Gaudi works outside in the park that I'd imagine you'd have to have a specific interest to want to go and see more inside. The museum follows the same opening times as the rest of the park and I would imagine that the best time to visit would be first thing or just before closing to avoid the masses.
There is a lot of colour around the park thanks to the mosaic tiles, but none more so than the huge dragon fountain that sits behind the main entrance. Covered in blue and green tiles, it does indeed look quite magical. I absolutely loved this as I thought it was so typical of Gaudi and his larger than life style. Unfortunately taking a photograph is not so easy because of the hundreds of other tourists doing the exact same thing. The steps at either side of the fountain are lined with tourists all posing in front of it. I imagine the only time you could avoid them would be first thing in the morning and last thing before the park closes.
Leaving the park here we wandered down the main driveway to the bottom of the hill to get the train back from a different station. If you do come this way, it is worth stopping to look back at the view up the hill where you can see the snaked lined platform, the gingerbread like houses and the impressive fountain all in one. Don't wait until you are too far down the hill though or you view will be obscured by the tens of coaches that ship tourists on trips up here all day. Further down the hill there are various shops and cafes that bask in the crowds and offer mediocre food and drinks at over inflated prices. We went in a shop for a bottle of water that set us back three Euros and were served by the most obnoxious Italian I have ever met - obvious repeat custom is not what they are looking for in these parts.
If you are in Barcelona then, definitely head to Parc Guell to see some of Barcelona's most famous architect's work and to enjoy a more laid back pace in opulent surroundings. But be under no illusions - you will not be the only person there by a long chalk!
This summer, I decided to go on holiday somewhere less further afield which is why I settled on a week long city break to Barcelona. I have never done mainland Spain before, so was very excited and I'd heard so much about this city having a lot to offer. The city is popular with tourists and I was there in August in the high temperatures but Park Guell was one of the attractions that stood out to me most and one that I have heard a lot about so it was definitely on my to do list.
ABOUT PARK GUELL
Park Guell is most famous for the work in here which was done by Antoni Gaudi, it really is a unique looking place and the park was named after Count Eusebi Guell as it was part of a housing site which wasn't a success. Only two houses are in this development, neither were designed by Gaudi but he lived here at one point of his life. The park is quite out of the city but if like me you are travelling by Metro then you will be ok getting here.
As soon as you get to the park, you can see all of the unsual buildings and the famous stairs right away but it is best to get here at 10am when it opens as all of the tourist buses start pulling up at this time and then you will get no space as they go around doing tours in all languages and you want photos with nobody in the background. I made it for 10am and it is open quite late but it changes seasonally. The gates are actually interesting as well as inside the park, it is very open and exposed also which is why you want to go before the midday heat.
As soon as you get into the park you can follow a map and the Gaudi Museum is in here but I didn't bother going into it. The park is very tranquil and peaceful to walk around with lots of wildlife which is very pretty, when walking up the main staircase leading up to the of the park, you will get lots of great photos and a chance to see the detail that has gone into this work, mosaic and animal sculptures to create a really unique look to a park.
When you get up the stairs to the pillars which is very cool under here and doesn't get hot and the ceilings are high but this is magnificent to look at as the work gone into this, it was like nothing I had ever seen before and really was worth looking at. It creates a lovely effect and this then takes you up to the next level which is the open sandy area with spectacular views of the city, although there are better if you go higher. The open sandy area has benches with hand crafted backs to them all animal designs etc it is worth taking a closer look at.
While walking around the park, always carry water as the heat rises quick and you will also notice a lot of men selling crafts at cheap rates which does get a bit tiresome but beware as they can be a bit annoying. They set up sitting on the floor with jewellery, souvenirs and so on but no cheaper than what you get around the city and it does all get a bit samey. Once you walk away from the open area, it is your decision if you want to go higher as it does split up into a number of different pathways.
I decided to go higher as I wanted to explore, it was peaceful and well looked after and I got great photos under all of the turrets and pillars leading you higher. The park goes much further up and I eventually made it to the top where I saw another house and here you get viewing areas where you really do get the most amazing views of the whole of Barcelona where you can easily see the Sagrada Familia and other iconic landmarks standing out in the beautiful skyline.
The park is worth going to see if you are going to Barcelona. Depending on if you go to the Gaudi Museum or not, it is lovely to sit here in the sun and look around and the creativity of the place. It has one of a kind buildings and it takes a good hour to look around or longer, depending on how far you want to explore it but it is fun to see.
If you are staying central then you should either get a bus or the Metro to 'Lesseps' and then from here, it is about a 15 minute walk if you follow the signs which are clearly posted. The metro is only about Euro8 for a 10 trip pass which is the best option.
To get into the park, it is free entry which is why it probably so widely appeals to everyone and it is a rare thing in this town. The Gaudi museum where Gaudi lived is about Euro5 to get into but I'm sure at Sagrada Familia you can buy a ticket in advance, combined for this, I just didn't.
There is no official website for the park.
In my opinion no visit to Barcelona is complete without a trip to Parc Guell. Parc Guell is the architectural garden complex designed by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi was born on the 25th June 1852 in Barcelona and died on the 10th June 1926. He was a the best-known representative of Catalan Modernism. Much of Gaudi's work can be seen around Barcelona with this remarkable park one of the best places to visit to see lots of his works in one place.
We took the metro down to the area and had about a 15 minute walk once we got off the train. The park is situated on the top of a hill so it was a bit of a steep climb to get up to the entrance to the park. The area is called El Carmel in the Gracia district of Barcelona. It was built by Gaudi between 1900 to 1914 and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park was free to enter which I thought was really good and a very popular tourist attraction. As you first walk into the park you see the famous dragon serpent that sits in the middle of a path of stairways going upwards each side. The dragon is absolutely beautiful, full of beautiful bright colours and a great symbol of Gaud's work. The thing that I loved about the park was that it was just lovely to wander around it and appreciate all the architecture as well as all the trees, plants and of course other tourists. There are parts that are very steep and although there are not lots of flights of stairs there are big steps to get up the hill so if you have a pushchair like we did you need to be able to lift it and carry it to the places you want to go. That being said there are lots of paths that you can weaned around without having to put in a lot of effort.
The terraced walls are quite a sight with birds nests built into them and almost look like little caves that you could live in if you wanted to. There are plenty of places to sit down around the park which is nice. There are not conventional benches but benches that Gaudi has designed and built into the park structure. At once point there is a large main square where you can sit on curved benches with tile patterns in the top of the bench. It's nice to sit here and just watch the world go by for a while although there is no shade so if you go on a hot day like we did you can definitely work on your tan!. Around the edges you will find little booths selling refreshments and the toilets as well. There was also a refreshment cafe when you come into the pack too although we brought sandwiches with us and ate them there.
One of the other interesting things to see there was Gaudi's house which is set half way into the park. This was about 5 euros each to enter which I thought was a fair price as there is not much to see. It's a small house but does house some of the furniture he designed. This has a downstairs and an upstairs so we had to leave our pushchair in the entrance hall but this was not a problem. The house is called La Torre Rosa.
If you visit Barcelona I would definitely say this is a must.
During my recent visit to Barcelona I visited Parc Guell, another place on my 'must visit' list, and a place I did not get to visit when last in Barcelona a year ago.
We visited Parc Guell as part of a city tour by coach and spent an hour there, walking around in the hot sunshine, although I must point out that in order to see the entire park, I would advise that visitor's spend at least a morning or afternoon there!
Those who have read my previous review will know I am a fan of Antoni Gaudi's work, and the Catalan Architect designed Parc Guell after being comissioned by Count Eusebi Guell. Guell was an estate agent entrepreneur, and asked Gaudi to design and create a park with luxury houses for Barcelona's aristocracy.
The result was Parc Guell, built in 1900 - 1914. However, as our guide on the coach tour informed us, the housing project failed due to Guell running out of money, and only three houses were built.
Gaudi himself lived in one of the houses for some time, and this has now been turned into a museum and contains furniture also designed by Gaudi.
Parc Guell is situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gracia area of Barcelona. As I explained earlier we visited by coach, which parked in the coach park up on the hill and opposite one of the entrances to the park. Parc Guell can also be reached by using Barcelona's Metro system, where you would get off at Lessops station and follow the signs.
On entering the park from opposite the coach park, there are a few stalls selling souvenirs and hand-crafted goods just outside the entrance.
Entry to Parc Guell is free, and walking down the pathway after entering the park you soon come to the house in which Gaudi resided, on your left. Gaudi lived here from 1906 - 1926, and the house now contains furniture and paintings and memories of the architect.
Continuing on, we came to the central area of the park which is a large square terrace with an unusual, and very colourful, curved 'serpent' mosaic tiled seat running around the perimeter, as seen on the photograph here. It is said that, in order to obtain an anatomic shape in the seating, Gaudi had a worker sit on a plaster cast!
From this terrace you are provided with an excellent view over the city.
There are steps either side of the square, which lead down to another square underneath, which is known as 'the room of one hundred columns'. These columns support the terrace above, although our guide told us there are only in fact 86 columns!
The columns lean in a way to produce a feeling of movement to the portico which is holding them. It really is unusual, and on looking up to the ceiling I noticed again some beautiful mosaic work and large colourful 'sun' mosaic tiles.
Walking down from the columns there are a double flight of stone steps leading down to another entrance to the park. Here you find in the middle of the steps , sculptures of animals covered in colouful mosiac tiles, including a dragon. Some of the sculptures are fountains.
At the bottom of the steps, either side of the gates, there are two unusual houses. Both buildings are coated with spectacular pottery in the collage technique which is so habitual in Gaudi's posterior constructions, and have unusual shaped roofs and pinnacles. They reminded me a little of the house in the Hansel and Gretel fairytale!
We were told that the park was conceived as a closed space protected from the exterior, which is why a wall surrounding the whole perimeter was built, and these two houses were built as defensive towers. The guard lived in one , and the other was the reception.
There are many walkways around the park, and some are raised and supported by rock pillars designed to look like tree trunks with their irregular shapes, with bird's nests built into the terrace walls. Gaudi was strongly influenced by natural shapes and they were always used in his work.
There are musicians playing Spanish guitar etc at various locations around the park and also a small outdoor cafe and toilets. Prices at the cafe were not cheap. A small bottle of coke costing 3 euros, but I suppose this is to be expected, and entry to the park itself is free after all!
Although the park was very busy with visitors walking around taking photographs, it is so big that it is easy to wander off and find a quiet area where you can sit and relax. What also amazed me was although it was busy, it also seemed very peaceful and has a very relaxing atmosphere. It was easy to forget you were in the city of Barcelona!
It is a beautiful place, and it was just a shame we didn't have time to walk around it all. I would love to go back and spend some more time there.
Parc Guell is on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona on the outskirts of Barcelona. Travel on the train to Lesseps and walk along Travessera de Dalt and then up Av del Santhuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya (bit of a mouthful) Only go by train if you are very physically fit, if not, drive or get a taxi.. When you get off the train you will have to walk 100 yards on the flat, the rest is uphill all the way. From the road, the park is reached by climbing up a road on a very steep incline. When you think you are almost there, you look up and see a series of flights of steps till you get to the top. When you reach the top, just before you collapse from exhaustion and lack of oxygen, turn around and look across Barcelona to see the most amazing breathtaking view.
Entrance to the Parc is free. Inside the entrance to the Parc you will walk along lush trees and vegetation, all the while catching glimpses of beautiful but slightly strange structures. You will walk through some surreal prehistoric looking stone walkways built on collonades that look like piles of stones shaped like stalagtites. These stalagtites were built by the Parc's creator Gaudi little over 100 years ago.
The walkways and paths all lead to openings full of buildings and sculptures, all completely different in style. Gaudi used different kinds of materials like a rainbow assortment of broken tiles, ceramics and stained glass in an unusual way. He did not feel constrained to make symmetrical conventional proportioned buildings. Each of his buildings is like a work of art. His buildings are dotted all around Barcelona.
The Centrepiece of the Parc is a structure built into the side of an incline. At its bottom, there is a Dragon sitting above a pond. Tourists sit her to have their photos taken with the Dragon. Steps lead up above the Dragon to a wonderful auditorium supported by rows of columns. You may be fortunate enough to find a musician playing there. You will certainly find children playing hide and seek behind the forest of columns.
More steps lead up to a large open sand covered area where people sit and play. Sellers hawk their wares and every one relaxes. Running around most of the perimeter is a ledge that forms a seat and parapet decorated with broken ceramic tiles that glint in the sun. From this vantage point, you can see the whole of the city. It is a breathtaking place.
The whole Parc is evocative of a Doctor Seuss alternative world. If you love quirky sculpture and art, or if you just want a bit of escapism to release you inner child, Parc Guell is the place for you.
The various works of celebrated Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi is one of the highlights of Barcelona but I find that it is quite difficult to enjoy and appreciate some of the buildings partly because of the area in which they are situated and partly for reasons such as the huge amount of scaffolding that permanently shrouds the exterior of the Sagrada Familia cathedral , for example.
A good way to escape the city, at least for a while, and to get a better view of some of Gaudi's work is to visit Parc Guell, to the north of the city centre. Its best described as an architectural garden in which you can see some of Gaudi's most exciting work but it's also a good place to catch some pretty amazing views of the city, right across to the port. Free admission and no queuing to get in are other benefits of visiting Parc Guell instead of other Gaudi locations.
To get to Parc Guell take the Metro on the green line to Lesseps and follow the many signs from there. This route does involve quiet a steep climb up one street when you turn off the main road. There is a bus stop close to the entrance so this might be of use to people for whom the hill is a problem and I am sure an enquiry at tourist information offices would be of help to find out the bus numbers. Some of the tourist buses also stop at Parc Guell as part of their itinerary.
As you get nearer to the park the fairytale like chimney of one of the two gatehouses comes into view to guide you and as you get nearer the still you'll hear the excited chatter of hundreds of European teenagers. If you prefer peace and quiet visit first thing before the tour groups arrive or early evening when they have all left. We visited in the early afternoon has made a last minute decision to do so and found that our enjoyment was spoiled a little bit because of the noise and the sheer number of people, blocking views, spoiling photographs and generally being quite annoying.
The centrepiece of the park is the vast terrace with its dramatic viewpoint. The shape of the terrace undulates with serpentine curves and cosy seats have been built into the curves. The boundary wall of the terrace, has, like the steps to it and other places in the garden, been decorated in the trademark ceramic mosaic so common in Gaudi's work. Apparently one of the reasons that the benches are tiled was so that they would dry quickly after rain and Gaudi incorporated bumps into the design so that people wouldn't sit in puddles. I don't know about the puddling but it did rain when we were there and the benches did dry quickly once the rain stopped and the sun came out.
Another part of the park that should be mentioned is the colonnaded arcade that actually supports the cleverly obscured road that runs above it. The colonnade is built of a local stone but looks like a series of palm trunks that appear to be growing out of the earth; I found this section absolutely remarkable, when you were under the arcade it really felt like it had been carved from the soil. If it does rain, the arcade is a good place to get some shelter, so long as you can find some space among the hordes of French schoolchildren eating packed lunches.
The terrace is supported on - for Parc Guell - rather conventional Doric columns and while these might be quite a contrast to the rest of the architectural they do at least add to the eclecticism. At the top of the central staircase is the lower court, which reminded me a lot of the mezquita in Cordoba, with its vaulted ceiling in which the larges bosses were yet more Gaudi mosaics. Here there were lots of hawkers selling novelty items of the type that kids love and that drive parents mad. Some wore costumes and had other costumes that kids could try on for photographs, posing in "swordplay" for example. The colonnaded area was also teeming with people selling all kinds of "crafty" stuff such as one's name written in illuminated text or metal twisted into the shape of ones name. "Proper" Gaudi-related souvenirs can be bought from the official shop which is situated in one of the gatehouses. The building is only small and there was a long queue to get in. If you don't fancy the queue there are lots of souvenir shops on the main road and in the streets climbing the hill towards the main entrance of the park.
The park was originally intended to be part of a housing project which was inspired by the "garden cities" of England. The site was chosen for the views and because it was well away from the smoky factories which spoiled the air in other parts of the city. It was all the idea of Count Eusebi Guell and, to add some more prestige to the project, he moved into Larrard House, a large property that already existed on the site. In the end only two houses were built here and neither of them was designed by Gaudi - a fact I like because I think that these days the place would be a frightening Gaudi theme-park. While I like what can be seen at Parc Guell (and Casa Batllo, an apartment building in the city centre) I do find some of the work at the Sagrada Familia, for example, quite self-indulgent and pompous and I think that a whole park of Gaudi houses would be too much to bear.
One of those two houses was meant to be a show house to tempt buyers to come to Parc Guell but nobody was interested and Gaudi moved into this house himself in 1906. The house can be visited, though we did not, and this is the only part of the park for which there is a charge. A combined ticket can be bought, if desired, for joint entrance to this museum and to the Sagrada Familia. This salmon pink house, known as the "Torre Rosa", can be seen from the colonnaded area to the left of the steps as you climb them and from the terrace. Inside there is a display on Gaudi's work and a collection of furniture he designed.
The park is quite large and you do need at least a couple of hours to really do it justice. Once you move away from the terrace and the colonnaded areas there are fewer people and it becomes more peaceful. The planting is wonderful but there are more trees and cacti than flowerbeds and this is quite an "untamed" park. Here and there you'll find hidden touches of Gaudi and, if you are lucky, you might spot some vivid green parakeets some of which were deliberately brought to the park to add even more colour. However, over the years these have been joined by escaped pets come to join their free brethren and the numbers are now quite high.
Park Guell opens daily at 10:00 am and closing time varies depending on the time of year but is normally around 19:00. You can buy ices and cold drinks at the entrance to the park and there are plenty of places nearby if you want to sit down for a drink or to get something to eat. You could also buy provisions for a picnic on the main street if you intend to stretch out your visit. There are toilets though these are at the main entrance to the park so it might be a good idea to encourage children to go before you start exploring.
Parc Guell is a great way to see more of Gaudi's work and certainly excellent if you are on a budget and don't perhaps want to pay to see the interior of the Sagrada Familia. The absence of queues also has to be a compelling reason for heading to Parc Guell. But aside from the practical points, this is a really stunning place to see and it does put Gaudi's designs into a whole new context. What is great about it is the immediacy and accessibility to great works of art. Apparently Gaudi used lots of historical Catalan references in the designs of some of the elements of the park but it is really not necessary to know anything of this as the features are so wonderful that they can be viewed in their own right and needn't be within a particular context. It is vibrant, colourful and at times quite unreal and a place that will stick in the memory for a long time to follow.
This park is a must see and was the second place on my 'to do' list on our holiday in Barcelona this August.
We got to the park on the local bus which we caught right outside our hotel (Tryp Apolo), we didnt use the 'sightseeing' buses.
We had looked at the metro and bus but i had read the walk from the nearest metro is quite steep uphill and the bus drops you right outside. It took about 40 minutes to reach the park from where we got on but the journey was all part of the fun, it was like being on the sightseeing bus but without the expense as the fare was the standard 1 trip rate which i think was 1 euro 30. There was a lovely spanish lady who pointed out things along the way and with our guide book we were able to spot lots of interesting Gaudi works along the route.
The park itself is absolutely amazing. Its huge and full of the most beautiful Gaudi work. the double staircase is stunning with the mosaic lizard but is alwasy busy so not easy to get a decent photo, you have to wait a long time if you want a perfect shot. The seat area that ripples above the staircase is wonderful to sit at and just take in the view, which are some of the best in Barcelona. Again its busy but we did get some photos of just us which was lovely.
There are lots of lovely walkways where you can find peace and quiet and with the musicians tinkling in the background it makes for a really relaxing stroll in the Barcelona heat.
The park itself is free apart from the museum, we didnt go in there as the queue was big and it was the park we had wanted to see anyway. There is a gift shop but its small and cramped, the building its house in however is very pretty, the two gatehouses are like gingerbread houses, i could see Hansel and Gretel being very happy there!
There is a cafe selling a good selection of fresh produce hot and cold and soft and alcoholic drinks and ice creams all at fairly reasonable prices considering the location.
There are a few little stalls dotted about where you can pick up a few trinkets and souvenirs also.
I dont want to tell you too much and spoil your visit, words couldnt really do it justice anyway, make a trip, its well worth it!
THIS REVIEW WAS PREVIOUSLY POSTED ON QYPE BY MYSELF UNDER THE NAME SUNLINESAM
The Parc Guell is deep in the heart of Barcelona, and for those who do not speak Spanish, the best route is to take a taxi from any central point of the city, which will cost around ten euros, and the for peace of mind, and for parking it is well worth the fare, although parking can be found at the less commercial entrances to this park. For those slightly more adventurous, there are local buses, and the buses numbered 21, 31, 32, 39, 74 and 116 all have stops near the entrances of the Park.
The Parc Guell was constructed between 1900 and 1914 under the direction and architectural guidance of Gaudi, (working with another architect, Josep Maria Jujol) for the Guell family, or more notedly Count Eusebi Güell. The park was intended for families living in the district and it was envisaged that many dwellings would be constructed, although this was never realised, and in 1923 was handed over to the City for all the people to visit and I am certainly glad that it was because it is an adventure into another time and another dimension.
We entered by the less commercial area of Gracia and immediately were drawn to the huge bridge like structures built into high slopes with stone formed balconies in what is a lesser known part of the park. Here, the tourist can chill, find a little corner and look over the city of Barcelona in an ambiance of peacefulness and tranquility that the city does not otherwise allow. It's strange to think that you are in a city humming with activity, though can sit, read a book, or just feel at one with both nature and the beauty of the construction of the park, which seems at one with nature, in that all constructions within the park flow with the flora and fauna, as if they had always been there.
Wide walkways take you through woodland and gardens, and there are so many hidden treasures throughout these gardens that at every turn, there is something to look at. The walkways are wide and go for miles and are wheelchair friendly, although the entrance to the pavillions or the main entrance to the park is not so wheelchair friendly, therefore making the visit by people with wheelchairs better approached from the Gracia area that I took.
As you walk along the walkways, you see splendid buildings, a church tower in pastel pink against a blue sky, little niches with seats for people to tuck themselves away from the hot sun and read, and you are lead through this woodland towards the pavillion, where there is a huge place with seating all around it in a kind of romantic setting, the seats all colourful and rounded with ceramic pictures which are beautiful. Whilst we were there, we listened to musicians that had stopped to bask in the sunshine and play their music. This area is enormous, and each seat rounded into the balcony shows the individual nature of ceramic tiling at its best, is colourful and inviting, and the views from this area stretch for miles.
Steps lead down from this pavillion to a corridor which was constructed in the typical Gaudi style of rounded edges and is almost like it was built lopsided, as it veers to the right, and all the pillars that shelter visitors from the sunshine are also put in at a slope, making the corridor seem like part of a natural landscape. You can imagine trees bent from heavy winds, or the roots of trees pulled up by storm as you walk this corridor which has no sense nor meaning, but stands as a testament to the individual Gaudi style.
Further down, you reach a hall of towers, with a wonderful acoustic quality and here, classical guitar was being played and as you walk amidst pillars and gaze with wonderment at the ceiling with its domes and ceramics, you are drawn into the world of Gaudi, a world conceived from perhaps childlike simplicity that seems to escape the regular construction theories of other architects. The echoes of a summer day, and the perfection of the musical notes combined in such as way as to show the grandeur of the place, shaded from the sunshine, though daylight played games amidst the domed ceilings and shape and form.
Down from this hallway of pillars you approach the entrance to the park, which has a wonderful structure on each side, and here, you do need time to take in the beauty of the buildings as well as relax and chill amidst the splendour of Gaudi's work. It is almost like you are stepping into his world and on the buildings that have towers that seem to touch the sky, you have ceramic roofs of all the colours of the rainbow, and the buildings have rounded edges, and are indeed reminiscent of fairy tails and childhood. One disappointment with the buildings at the entrance area of the park was that they had replaced the original windows with new ones, and here, instead of taking the form of rounded edges, and escape from the box like shapes that Gaudi was so famous for, the windows were squared off and really did not fit in with the whole concept of architecture that Gaudi stood for.
Entrance to the park is free. There are no hidden charges and although there is a tourist shop at the entrance to the park, I found that the emphasis of the park was more enjoyment and appreciation of the surroundings, rather than the needing to rip off the tourist. There is a cafe with refreshments at cheap prices, toilets, etc., although the main emphasis of the park is that the visitor feels like they blend with their surroundings, rather than being a blight on them.
Off the main entrance, steps lead up to the Hall of Pillars where the classical guitarist played, and on the main steps, there is a huge lizard type creature, tiled in many colours, which attracts the attention of the tourist cameras, and this area of the park is particularly crowded and difficult to photograph without getting others in the photos. There are many tiled walls in this area, and I managed to get some pretty impressive shots.
In the gift area, there are so many things to chose from, and here I found that the prices were varied enough to suit all pockets. I bought a video of Gaudi's work, so that I always had a reminder of my visit and of the historical changes that Gaudi made in architectural thought, and changes that have endured the test of time.
I finish my visit to the Guell Park with a thought that Gaudi goes into the places that others just dream about, that his work captures that which thoughts and dreams keep outside of the human grasp, and that the presence of places like this make the human soul feel richer for the experience.
A must visit if in Barcelona.
Barcelona may not have a Disneyland, but it certainly has a magical park to call its own - Gaudí's Parc Güell. Antoni Gaudí was born in Reus, Spain in 1852. He studied at Barcelona's School of Architecture and went on to become the world's most famous exponent of Catalan modernist architecture, a branch of the Art Nouveau movement. He shunned what lesser others considered "normal" and "conventional"; instead of hiding parts of the natural structure of a building, he would bring them to the fore. He harnessed the complex geometries of nature and mathematical ideas in his ingenious designs, although he received no formal mathematical training. He completed many astoundingly creative works of art before his tragic death in 1926. Parc Güell sits atop the Montana Pelada towards the north of Barcelona. Once you get off the Metro at Vallcarca (L3 Green), be prepared for a bit of a trek up to the park! A visit is worth every step, and if you're lucky, the escalators up the hill will be working... Gaudí was commissioned to design the park, which was built between 1900 and 1914. It was originally meant to be a housing site, but proved to be commercially unsuccessful, and was given to the city as a public park in 1923. As a result, entrance is free! It's not difficult to work out why Parc Güell was commercially unsuccessful as an aristocratic suburb. A landscaped garden city in the Expressionist style, you feel as though you've stumbled into the fairytale land of Hansel and Gretel - hardly what affluent Spaniards were looking for in those days! Around the open-air theatre in the centre of the park are the famous undulating serpentine benches, covered with spectacular mosaic tiles. It's an opportunity for a photo fest, as they're thoroughly unique, organic, curvy and comfortable! During my visit, a wedding took place there - a fantastically memorable location, I must admit! Have a b
reak at the café above the theatre with a tasty bocadillo and sangría, then take your time in exploring the rest of the park. Admire the multi-coloured mosaic fountains and dragon, the mysterious marketplace with 100 classical Doric columns. Hidden away to the side is a rocky outpost with enchanting stalactite vaulting and colonnade. Gaudí's house (Casa Museu Gaudí), where he lived during the park's construction, is also on display. Owing to its geographical position, Parc Güell offers a panoramic view over the whole of Barcelona. On a clear day, it is possible to see all the way to Port Vell or the Sagrada Família, Gaudí's unfinished masterpiece. Therefore, time for a reminder: bring plenty of film! The weather will play a large part in determining whether you enjoy your visit to Parc Güell. Being a park, the majority of it is exposed to the elements (duh!), and a flash flood is guaranteed not brighten up your experience. The park is not overly grassy and can get dusty in windy conditions. Furthermore, it's preferable to visit in the morning to avoid the baking (and burning!) heat of the afternoon. Parc Güell is where Gaudí turned his talented hand to landscaping and is an essential part of any visit to Barcelona. NB. This is the 2nd instalment of my BS series. For the introduction, please kindly turn to "BS Uno - The Odyssey Begins"; general information on Barcelona is scattered throughout the series. Thanks for reading!
""The ‘Parc Güell’ is another work of Antoni Gaudí. ""