Park Güell: Antonio Gaudi’s Fantasy Park in Barcelona

Published at Suite101.com

The undulating Park Güell is a must see for anyone visiting or living in Barcelona. Antoni Gaudi’s public park is a wondrous combination of art, architecture and nature.

On the hill of El Carmel in the Gracia district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, lays Park Güell the beautiful garden complex with architectural elements, which Gaudi architected between 1900 and 1914.

The Original Intentions and Inspiration behind Park Güell

This park, which is an element of the Unesco World of Heritage Site “Works of Antoni Gaudi”, was originally part of a commercial housing site, the idea of Eusebi Güell, whom the park was named after. Park Güell was inspired by the English garden city movement; hence the English name park, rather than the Catalan parc.

The site was initially a rocky hill with little vegetation and a few trees, called Montana Pelada (Bare Mountain). The intention of the park was to exploit the fresh air and beautiful views from the site.

Gaudi’s fantasy public park was meant to be a glorious gated playground for the rich however that idea didn’t come off. Instead the town hall bought it in 1922 and opened it to the common folk.

Just inside the main entrance on Carrer d’Olot visit the park’s Centre d’Interpretacio, in the Pavello de Consergeria, the rounded, Gaudian former porter’s home, which hosts a display on Gaudi’s building methods and park history.

Nowadays Park Güell has been converted into a municipal garden. It can be reached by the metro, city buses, or by commercial tourist buses. Entrance to the park is free and an entrance to Gaudi’s “la Torre Rosa” requires an entrance fee.

Park Güell’s Design and Composition

Gaudi has skillfully planned and composed the park to bring the peace and calm that one would expect from a park. The main entrance is flanked by the buildings with fantastically shaped roofs with unusual pinnacles, which fit in well with the use of the park as pleasure gardens. The architecture is relatively inconspicuous in the landscape compared to the elaborateness of other buildings designed by Gaudi.

The focal point of the park is the main entrance, surrounded by a long beach in the form of a sea serpent. To design the curvature f the bench surface Gaudi used the shape of buttocks left by a naked workman sitting in wet clay. The curves of the serpent beach form a number of enclaves, creating more social atmosphere.

Park Güell

Catalan Influences

Gaudi incorporated many motifs of Catalan nationalism, and elements from religious mysticism and ancient poetry, into the park. Originally visitors would have been greeted by two life size gazelles but these have since been lost during the turbulence of the war.

The roadways around the park to service the intended house 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.

The Paramount View at the Large Cross

The large cross at the Park’s offers the most complete view of Barcelona and the bay. It is possible to view the main city in panorama with the Sagrada Familia and the Montjuic are visible at a distance.

The beauty and the peacefulness that is present from the highest point of Park Güell, at the large cross, is beyond description and prevails the ultimate park life. With panoramic views looking over the entire city and the Mediterranean in the distance it would be impossible to not feel utterly relaxed and in ore of Park Güell’s magnificence.

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