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Park Guell

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by Alicia Daud (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in New York. Currently I am working at Communalnews
Published July 2nd 2021
The most beautiful park in Barcelona
Along with the Sagrada Famlia church, Park GŁell is the most well-known work of Antonio Gaud. Every tourist to Barcelona feels obligated to see Park GŁell at least once. Indeed, this park, which is set on a wonderfully beautiful mountaintop property, offers much more than a postcard-perfect vista of the Catalan capital. Winding walkways, an abundance of trees and plants, but most notably Gaud's installations, all contribute to the park's enduring impact. Therefore, let us take a minute to journey back to the late nineteenth century, when the park's history is just beginning.

What are the sights to behold?

Although Gaud's distinctive handwriting remains obvious to this day, he is nevertheless regarded as a symbol of modernism. The traditionally English gardens also had a significant influence in the planning and design of Park GŁell: the park's client, Eusebi GŁell, was so taken with them that he desired to replicate them in Barcelona. What the original 60 villas should have looked like is no longer known.

Park Guell
Park Guell


They have most likely not been planned in detail yet, as the preferences of possible clients would have been considered. Today, you may observe a highly bright, yet near to nature architectural style that occasionally appears to blend with Russian-style confectionary building. The three houses erected are the GŁell family home, which is now a school, as well as Antoni Gaud's and an architect friend's residences.

Gaud established the groundwork for the park when his high priority not just for environmental stewardship, but also for cost-effective construction. Rather than ordering huge earth moves, he customized his designs for the steep terrain. This was accomplished by the construction of retaining walls and terraces. These have taken on nearly organic forms and blend well into the landscape. This creates an air of perfect naturalness. Additionally, the builder discovered a substantial portion of the needed supplies on-site.

Park Guell
Park Guell


Numerous mosaics are created from leftovers from local ceramic companies. However, the building was extremely expensive due to the fact that everything had to be done by hand. According to legend, many artisans spent days shattering ceramics to generate the material for today's magnificent mosaics.

A sociable dragon...

Protecting the market hall's entry is arguably the most well-known motif, and hence the park's focal point. This is the first thing you see when you approach the park from the main entrance: From Carrer d'Olot, go past two turreted pavilions to a huge stairway guarded by a courteous guard. Naturally, it is also embellished with shattered pottery. However, the architect's signature may also be recognized on the aforementioned pavilions.

We proceed up the stairwell...

into a really strange room. This is an 86-pillared structure that was originally meant to serve as the market square for the proposed residential neighborhood. Due to the failure of these ideas, the hall might now be seen as a forest of Roman-inspired columns supporting a vast terrace. The patio is encircled by a railing made of shattered pottery and equipped with a bench.

Salvador Dal referred to this bank as the "forerunner of surrealism" at one point. And he wasn't totally incorrect. As brightly colored as a children's toy, it spirals in various serpentine lines, features tiny talking nooks, and provides a magnificent perspective of the city. Additionally, the architect's previous residence, which is now a museum, may be visited.

Park Guell
Park Guell


Beyond this focal point, the entry-free green space begins, which blends seamlessly into the slope like a fairy tale garden. Only little, man-made elements are visible here, and even then only on a second or third inspection. If you wander through this magical green space, you will instantly sense: Gaud was especially concerned with causing as little disturbance to nature as possible. As a result, he restricted himself and his staff to minor accents and otherwise let nature to flourish. As a result, no substantial leveling or excavation work was undertaken.

By the way, the entire facility is bathed in a particularly lovely light at sunset!

Which architect was responsible for the park's design?

While the garden and landscape design fields have long since separated from "regular" architecture, architects were still considered generalists over a century ago. Her role included both the design of new structures and the planning of gardens and parks. When rich manufacturer Eusebi GŁell purchased the large mountain land above the city in 1885, he envisioned a type of garden city.

Park Guell
Park Guell


Thus, his meeting with the young architect Antoni Gaud appeared to be a stroke of good fortune for both of them: Gaud's concept of equal cohabitation between humans and environment was downright innovative at the time. Only three of the 60 villas originally intended for this site were completed owing to a lack of demand. What was almost certainly a financial disaster was almost certainly the defining moment in Antoni Gaud's career.

When was the park constructed?

The park's earliest plans date all the way back to 1890. Construction occurred between 1900 and 1914, with the architect already focusing on cost and environmental concerns and prioritizing quality over haste. It was once a private institution, but Park GŁell was opened to the public in 1929 for the World Exhibition.

What is the park's size?

The park encompasses an area of 17.18 hectares in total. At first look, the majority of the park does not appear to have been inspired by the architect, as his signature works are concentrated in the complex's core. The aforementioned "Monumental Zone" is, unsurprisingly, the most popular location for park visitors, as Gaud's impact is evident here. However, this region accounts for around 5% of the total parking space.

For a few years, entrance to the monumental zone was fee-based: the park administration desired not just revenue, but also a reduction in formerly regular crowds. The first data on this were revealed in October 2014: whereas the park received around 9 million visits the previous year, this figure dropped nearly immediately to 2.4 million.

Is it possible to visit the park with a stroller?

Essentially nothing argues against strolling around a park with a stroller. However, neither Gaud nor subsequent architects appear to have paid any consideration to pram accessibility. Certain routes are simply too small or impossible to navigate with a stroller.

Park Guell
Park Guell


Is the park wheelchair accessible?

What applies to strollers is comparable to what applies to wheelchairs. However, strollers are often easier to fold and carry upstairs than wheelchairs. There is no accessible entrance to the vast square (the terrace above the portico). It also makes sense in the case of steeper sections of the path if wheelchair users have additional support while pushing - or if their arms are extremely fit and strong.

Is it permissible to bring dogs into the park?

Yes, dogs are welcome in the park as long as they are leashed. Additionally, masters are required to immediately remove any leftovers from their darlings.

Park Guell
Park Guell


How long should you budget for a visit?

A thorough tour of the park, which is very vast, takes around half a day. However, even for a brief visit, you should budget at least one hour, preferably three. Additionally, guided tours often run 90 to 120 minutes.

What is the optimal time of year to visit Park GŁell?

The greatest time to visit is, of course, spring and summer, when nature is at its most magnificent. In the sweltering summer heat, a visit to the park, which is quite steep and well sheltered, may be a dubious joy. Even in winter, the vegetation of Germany is unmatched: here, even during the coldest months, numerous species survive, blossom, and flourish that would perish in Central Europe.

Is it possible to visit Park GŁell without paying admission?

A bargain hunter's secret tip: the entire park is free to explore in the morning between 6:00 and 8:00. Waiting periods, on the other hand, are not to be dreaded at this time.

What is the location of Park GŁell?

Park GŁell is located in the Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona, on the outskirts of the city. The urban area in this location is relatively hilly, making it difficult to reach on foot.

Park Guell
Park Guell


Public transportation to Park GŁell

Lesseps is the closest subterranean station, located around 500 meters from the park. It may appear to be a short walk at first, but the walk is difficult. Thus, if you arrive in Lesseps via subway line 3, you walk down the bustling Travessera de Dalt street until you reach the Avinguda del Santuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya on the left. The term "Muntanya" indicates that this route ascends rather sharply. It continues straight up until you reach the park's main entrance, which is angled to the right. You are already 130 meters above sea level at this point. With the Hola BCN Card*, you may take public transportation for free and as frequently as you like.

116 bus - Olot - Marianao

L3 metro station - Lesseps

Bus hop-on-hop-off*: Stop: Park GŁell

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Why? Most Famous Park in Spain
When: Everyday
Phone: 34 934 09 18 31
Where: 08024 Barcelona, Spain
Cost: Varies
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