When I think about Spain, and reflect on my travels there over the last 5 years, there are always a few particular places that stand out in my mind. They usually possess similar features; incredible views, beautifully lush gardens, eye-catching architecture and a background rich in history. Barcelona is a city that’s home to many iconic and memorable sights, that sees tourists flock from all corners of the world. Whether travelling in the Summer or Winter season, there is a place that stands in it’s picturesque and breathtaking beauty all year round.
Park Güell is a public park made up of beautiful gardens and unique architectural elements. Sitting on top of Carmel Hill in the neighbourhood of La Salut, the challenge of designing the park was given to Antoni Gaudí – one of the most distinctive and unexampled architects the 19th and 20th century had seen, and the guiding force behind Catalan modernism. Even now, his work remains to be some of the most bizarre and magnificent architecture. Eusebi Güell, a Catalan entrepreneur, sought out Gaudí for the creation of the park with urbanisation of the area very much in mind.
The assignment was initially to design an estate for upper-class families, with exquisite views of the sea and the Plain of Barcelona. Despite a few initial sales of plots of land, the exclusive nature of the housing and the accessibility (or lack there of) of the area led to a lack of buyers, causing construction to cease and therefore only two of the planned 62 houses being completed. As a result of this, it became a private park which was used for events – slowly becoming an attraction of the city. The whole site became open to the public in 1963, including the house that Gaudí himself had lived in for many years. Güell’s family house had been turned into a public school in 1926. Park Güell still stands in all it’s glory, and is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (as of 1984.)
Gaudí had a strong perception of the nature on the block of land, and found unique ways to link that to his designs. It’s one of the beautiful features of the park, seeing how his designs and the nature combine so ceremoniously to unite in what becomes one perfect centrepiece.
Another element of Gaudí’s work that I love is the way he worked with textures, bringing so many of his structures to life. The materials that he used and the way he then transformed them and gave them life is part of why his work is so powerful, and why it evokes so much feeling.
The literal layers of the park and the different levels are what really add to the “wow factor.” There are several points of the park that have spectacular look outs, with rolling views of Barcelona reaching out to the sea. Plenty of photo opportunities let me tell you.
It honestly doesn’t matter what time of year you go, it’s spectacular all year round. There will be more people in peek season so it has been wonderful to experience it in both the summer and winter seasons. It is, and will remain, one of my favourite places in not just Barcelona alone, but Spain as a whole. The opening hours of the park are 8.00am – 8.00pm. There is an entry fee now to visit the monumental zone, which includes the house Gaudí lived in and the furniture he designed, but entry to park is free. The train will get you, the L3 (Green Line) to Vallcarca station. It’s then a little bit of a walk, and a journey up some escalators to get to the very top which is actually the back entrance to the park. The main entrance is right around the other side, but I usually end up leaving from that side after I’ve made my way through. I can’t recommend this place enough, and especially if you’re a fan of Gaudí or interested in seeing some of his work.
photos taken by Jessie Roper