The artistic opulence of Barcelona originates from its centuries old history. And a lot of what we see today is the magical work of its many creative minds. One among the artists who owe their origin to Catalonia is Antoni Gaudi whose architectural compositions play a rhythm of unparalleled beauty in the capital city of Barcelona. The rich cultural mosaic of Barcelona was greatly influenced by the Art Nouveau or Catalan Modernisme movement, and Gaudi found himself at the helm of this revolutionary time. So much so, that his work left no part of the city untouched, and the metropolis came to be known as the ‘City of Gaudi’.
Having created numerous masterpieces, Antoni Gaudi had earned a name for his nature- inspired designs. So when his friend Count Eusebi Guell asked him to work his magic on the tree-covered hillside he had recently acquired, Gaudi set out to do just that. Initially conceived to be a garden city for Barcelona’s wealthy families, the plan was aborted in 1914 as only two of the proposed 60 plots were sold. But in these 14 years, Gaudi had changed the face of the two hill plots.
Between 1904 and 1906, he set out to build the boundary wall and continued to lay down the various elements of the plan- the entrance pavilion and stairs, shelters for cars, a complex network of roads, via ducts and sewers. He then went on to build the model house, now the Gaudi Museum House. By this time, Guell had sensed that his plan was headed nowhere. But the work on the park went on and both Guell and Gaudi continued to live in the only two houses that are still there on the property. The overwhelming beauty of the park envelopes you as soon as you step inside it. The amazement of seeing Gaudi’s creations glittering in the Mediterranean blue sky is incomparable. The play of colours that characterize every corner of the park creates an aura of absolute amazement as it merges with his many creations commensurate with the Art Nouveau movement.
At Park Guell, Gaudi’s intriguing architectural style culminates into a supreme example of Art Nouveau. The delicate interaction between the nature and structures inspired by it is magnificent in its subtlety and grandeur. If you have the luxury of time, spend at least three hours in exploring the park’s magical environs, and witness the beauty of Gaudi’s work.
The entrance and Porter’s Lodge Pavilion
As soon as you step in front of Park Güell’s main entry gate on Carrer d’Olot, Gaudi’s inimitable work will take your breath away. The rustic stone wall decorated with ceramic tiles that surround the park is complemented by the entry gates shaped like palm leaves. The Casa del Guarda on the right and the original porter’s lodge on the left seem to belong in a fairy-tale.
Dragon Stairway and Sala Hipóstila
Take in the beauty of the entrance stairway gliding up to the Sala Hipóstila in twin magnificence. The galloping flight of stairs is skirted by a wall on either side, forming two beautiful alcoves under tiled terraces. The Sala Hipóstila borrows from the Doric order and with 86 columns supporting its roof, the area was to be used as a marketplace. The ceiling comprises of small domes adorned in traditional mosaic of tile shards.
Gaudi House Museum
This is the house where Gaudi spent over 20 years of his life, before moving to his temporary abode in Sagrada Familia. In 1963, it was opened to the public as a Museum which till date houses detailed accounts about Gaudi and his work. You will have to buy a separate ticket to visit the museum but the extra effort will be totally worth it.
The Greek Theatre and Laundry Room Portico
Gaudi provisioned for a grand Greek Theatre that sits at the centre of the monumental zone, and runs from the architrave atop Sala Hipóstila, to the base which was created by digging into the rocky surface. Now called the Plaça de la Natura or the Nature Square, the wall on its edge has a series of columns that are designed to look like palm trees.
Pathways and Viaducts
Gaudi designed Park Güell with the idea of merging it with the natural surroundings and hilly topography. To achieve this, he laid down an intricate network of paths, bridges and viaducts throughout the property.
The three viaducts that glide up the mountain in succession are called Pont de Baix, the Pont del Mig, and the Pont de Dalt. These examples of ingenuous structural engineering are supported by columns and vaults made of sketchy stones that were found on site.
In addition to these major pathways, Gaudi also built a web of small pathways and shortcuts that were meant for people on foot. Walk on one of these to experience the charm of this 19th Century park.
Stroll through the Austria Gardens for a panoramic view of the two houses that were initially built in Park Güell. With a totally different look from the rest of the park, these gardens got their name when Austria donated a variety of trees in 1977 for planting in the municipal plant nursery.
With so many people flocking to explore the intriguing beauty of Park Güell, the on-site ticket counters are almost always found at the end of a long queue. You can skip these long lines by spending almost the same amount on your tickets by booking them in advance. Another way of escaping the wait is to go for one of the guided tours.
You can choose the day of your visit and the time slot of your preference and book a ticket to Park Güell even three months before your trip. The online ticket will be sent to your e-mail which you can display before entering the estate. Remember that you will still have to go through the security check before stepping into the park.
A guided tour of the park is the best way to explore this fantastic Catalan landmark. An expert guide will take you around and show you all the major highlights of the park. Booking a guided tour also gives you priority access to the park, allowing you to skip the ticket line and head straight inside with your guide.
Park Guell opens at 8:00 AM everyday and this is when the crowd is at its least. It's not absent, since many people do get there before the gates have opened. However, you do get to enjoy the basilica with a comparatively lesser crowd around.