Barcelona – Güell Park

17 Dec


The number one, must-see sight in Barcelona is always the Sagrada Familia, the still unfinished cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi. So we didn’t go there. Having toured the building site about 7 years ago, oohed and ahhed at the exterior but then been disappointed with the interior, we thought we’d give it a miss this time around. Apparently it has come on a lot since then. Ah well, perhaps next time.

Our first choice was also a Gaudi creation. The Güell Park was originally intended to be a luxury housing development but only two houses were ever built, neither actually designed by Gaudi although he did end up using his life savings and buying one. Always impractical – triangular lots and no transport connections – the development failed and the park was eventually handed over to the city. It is now a beautiful green space in a bustling modern city with incredible views but its main attraction is the roadway built to connect the development, designed by Gaudi himself.

The impact of the roadway was reduced by structures jutting out from the hillside or running on viaducts with arcades formed under these structures. The design is obviously inspired by the natural surroundings with columns like tree trunks supporting branching vaulting under the roadway. The way the sun catches the columns at this time of year, flooding the darkness of the underpasses with light is reminiscent of walking through both a forest and a cathedral cloister.


At the top of the park is a terrace with a serpentine bench covered in amazing mosaics. Like the houses, built by Francesc Berenguer, it has the feel of Gaudi but was in fact designed by Josep Maria Jujol, neither of whom seems to get the credit they deserve. The view from this terrace is over the roof tops of Barcelona in the valley below, on the day of our visit unfortunately shrouded in mist. My attempts to capture it in photographs were pretty pathetic.

Outside the park itself is a hill topped by three crosses. Naturally we had to walk up this hill. In fact getting to the park at all involves a lot of uphill walking, so steep in fact that the streets have escalators. If you don’t want to pay to go inside the main section of the park, this is the place for the views. Pick a clear day. 





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