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Sunday, 20 August 2017
 

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Park Guell

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Barcelona Park GuellThe Park Guell is a 17, 18 ha wide garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, Catalonia. It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí". The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, the idea of Count Eusebi de Güell, whom the park was named after. It was inspired by the English garden city movement; hence the original English name Park.

The site was a rocky hill with little vegetation and few trees, called Muntanya Pelada (Bare Mountain). It already included a large country house called Larrard House or Muntaner de Dalt House, and was next to a neighborhood of upper class houses called La Salud. The intention was to exploit the fresh air (well away from smoky factories) and beautiful views from the site, with sixty triangular lots being provided for luxury houses. Count Eusebi Güell added to the prestige of the development by moving in 1906 to live in Larrard House. In the event only two houses were built, neither designed by Gaudi. One was intended to be a show house, but on being completed in 1904 was put up for sale, and as no buyers came forward. Gaudi, at Güell's suggestion, bought it with his savings and moved in with his family and his father in 1906.

It has since been converted into a municipal garden. It can be reached by underground railway (although the stations are at a distance from the Park), by city buses, or by commercial tourist buses. While entrance to the Park is free, Gaudí's house, "la Torre Rosa," — containing furniture that he designed — can be only visited for an entrance fee. There is a reduced rate for those wishing to see both Park Güell and the Sagrada Familia.

Although it sounds unlikely, the place is skillfully designed and composed to bring the peace and calm that one would expect from a park. The buildings flanking the entrance, though very original and remarkable with fantastically shaped roofs with unusual pinnacles, fit in well with the use of the park as pleasure gardens and seem relatively inconspicuous in the landscape when one considers the flamboyance of other buildings designed by Gaudi.

The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. To design the curvature of the bench surface Gaudi used the shape of buttocks left by a naked workman sitting in wet clay. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere. Gaudi incorporated many motifs of Catalan nationalism, and elements from religious mysticism and ancient poetry, into the Park. The visitor was originally greeted by two life-size mechanical gazelles (a major euphemistic symbol of 'the young beloved' in the Hebrew strand of the medieval love poetry of the region), but these have since been lost during the turbulence of war.

Roadways around the park to service the intended houses were designed by Gaudi as structures jutting out from the steep hillside or running on viaducts, with separate footpaths in arcades formed under these structures. This minimized the intrusion of the roads, and Gaudi designed them using local stone in a way that integrates them closely into the landscape. His structures echo natural forms, with columns like tree trunks supporting branching vaulting under the roadway, and the curves of vaulting and alignment of sloping columns designed in a similar way to his Church of Colònia Guell so that the inverted catenary arch shapes form perfect compression structures.

The large cross at the Park's high-point offers the most complete view of Barcelona and the bay. It is possible to view the main city in panorama, with the Sagrada Família and the Montjuic area visible at a distance.


Visit Information
 Address: Carrer d'Olot - 08024 BARCELONA
 Opening Time: All year, Daily, Open 10am to 6pm (winter) - 9pm (summer).
 Tickets:  Entrance free



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