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Parc Güell

Parc Güell (59)

Parc Güell is the ideal place to stroll around and let yourself be captivated by the imagination of Antoni Gaudí. To get to the Park you have to take the metro to Lesseps (line 3) then walk for about 20 minutes, mostly uphill. If this presents a problem it may be best to go by bus - the number 24 leaves you at the gate. To enjoy the park to the full will take half a day. But it's well worth it, you'll see. The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Gaudí's principal patron was Eusebi Güell, a businessman, Catalan politician and member of the gentry who commissioned the great architect several works in which he was given absolute freedom to develop his creativity. In 1900 Eusebi Güell proposed the construction of a park covering an area of more than 17 hectares in what was at the time the village of Gràcia and is now part of the city of Barcelona.

The initial project was to build a luxury housing development on the outskirts of the city featuring some 80+ houses scattered throughout a huge garden and offering great views of the city. At the time the hillside was a sparsely-vegetated area with pronounced slopes, stony soil and without natural springs. And although it seemed impossible at the time, Gaudí was able to overcome all these problems, even using the slopes to create winding pathways for the collection of rainwater. Gaudí also wanted to level the ground for walkways and took advantage of irregularities in the terrain to design trails that he decided to cover with porches supported by leaning columns that remind us of the trunks of palm trees. These were constructed of stones takes from the hillside itself. 

The project began enthusiastically but, as a result of World War I, proved to be a commercial flop as just two plots were sold. One of these now houses the Casa-Museu Gaudí. 

The main entrance leads to a double flight of stairs, between which we can see the famous dragon that often serves as an icon when referring to Gaudí and represents the alchemical salamander, symbolising the fire element. The finishing used throughout the area is one of the architect's signature techniques, consisting of broken tiles irregularly arranged on curved surfaces.

On climbing steps one reaches the "Chamber of 100 Columns", a large covered space supported by, curiously-enough, 86 Doric columns that support the dome in such a twisted manner that it appears to be moving. This area was designed to house the market that would supply the inhabitants of the garden city. Before moving on, remember to look up at the ceiling, where you will see the beautiful rosettes made from shards of tile and glass that have so often appeared on postcards. If you count the columns and rosettes you will notice they add up to 100, so it is believed the rosettes were initially planned as columns.

The columns of this room support part of the park's great central plaza, known as the Greek Theatre, as in the original project it was designed to house, you guessed it, a theatre. It is known and recognized for its 150 meters of colourful and meandering benches. Legend has it that, in order to design the anatomical support, Gaudí had someone sit on the plaster, thereby obtaining a profile on which to model the benches, for the creation of which Gaudi had the help of another Catalan architect, Josep Pujol. 

A stroll through the Park is a unique experience that makes us feel we are part of a story. We recommend you take different pathways in order to discover the surprises in store on the various levels. The spirit of Gaudi is present in even the smallest detail. From leaning, twisted columns supporting a giant flower pot to undulating pathways leading to peaceful alcoves that allow one to escape the frenetic pace of the city centre.

On leaving the park, near the entrance, don't forget to take in the pavilion, which was destined to be the reception area and also seems to come straight out of a fairy tale. It is constructed using stone from the hillside itself and the upper part is covered in mosaics in colours that reflect the environment. The irregular shapes and roof remind us of the scales of a monster, guardian of the park. 

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