Good for: a cheap afternoon, .., Gaudi, hanging out, amazing views
Not good for: ..., Tranquil surroundings, people in wheelchairs, very young or very old
- Carrer d’Olot 7
- 93 413 24 00
- admission free
- 10am-9pm Jun-Sep, 10am-8pm Apr, May & Oct, 10am-7pm Mar & Nov, 10am-6pm Dec-Feb
Lonely Planet review for Park Güell
North of Gràcia and about 4km from Plaça de Catalunya, Park Güell is where Gaudí turned his hand to landscape gardening. It’s a strange, enchanting place where his passion for natural forms really took flight – to the point where the artificial almost seems more natural than the natural.
Park Güell originated in 1900, when Count Eusebi Güell bought a tree-covered hillside (then outside Barcelona) and hired Gaudí to create a miniature city of houses for the wealthy in landscaped grounds. The project was a commercial flop and was abandoned in 1914 – but not before Gaudí had created 3km of roads and walks, steps, a plaza and two gatehouses in his inimitable manner. In 1922 the city bought the estate for use as a public park.
Just inside the main entrance on Carrer d’Olot, immediately recognisable by the two Hansel-and-Gretel gatehouses, is the park’s newly refurbished Centre d’Interpretaciò, in the Pavelló de Consergeria, which is a typically curvaceous former porter’s home that hosts a display on Gaudí’s building methods and the history of the park. There are nice views from the top floor.
The steps up from the entrance, guarded by a mosaic dragon/lizard (a copy of which you can buy in many downtown souvenir shops), lead to the Sala Hipóstila (aka the Doric Temple). This is a forest of 88 stone columns, some of which lean like mighty trees bent by the weight of time, originally intended as a market. To the left curves a gallery whose twisted stonework columns and roof give the effect of a cloister beneath tree roots – a motif repeated in several places in the park. On top of the Sala Hipóstila is a broad open space whose centrepiece is the Banc de Trencadís, a tiled bench curving sinuously around its perimeter and designed by one of Gaudí’s closest colleagues, architect Josep Maria Jujol (1879-1949). With Gaudí, however, there is always more than meets the eye. This giant platform was designed as a kind of catchment area for rainwater washing down the hillside. The water is filtered through a layer of stone and sand, and it drains down through the columns to an underground cistern.
The spired house to the right is the Casa-Museu Gaudí, where Gaudí lived for most of his last 20 years (1906-26). It contains furniture by him (including items that were once at home in La Pedrera, Casa Batlló and Casa Calvet) and other memorabilia. The house was built in 1904 by Francesc Berenguer i Mestres as a prototype for the 60 or so houses that were originally planned here.
Much of the park is still wooded, but it’s laced with pathways. The best views are from the cross-topped Turó del Calvari in the southwest corner.
The walk from Metro stop Lesseps is signposted. From the Vallcarca stop, it is marginally shorter and the uphill trek eased by escalators. Bus 24 drops you at an entrance near the top of the park.
The park is extremely popular (it gets an estimated 4 million visitors a year, about 86% of them tourists) and there is talk of limiting access to keep a lid on damage done by the overkill. Its quaint nooks and crannies are irresistible to photographers – who on busy days have trouble keeping out of each other’s pictures.