This is where Antoni Gaudi started landscape gardening.
The creation of Parc Guell, one of Barcelona's main attractions, started in 1900 when the the hillside was bought by Count Eusebi Güell who then went on to hire Gaudi to build a miniature city for wealthy people that was surrounded by landscaped gardens so that they could escape the pollution and enjoy the fresh air and views well away from the smokey factories of Barcelona city.
It is quite amazing to think that back then there was very little vegetation on this rocky hill, only a few trees and it was even called the "Muntanya Pelada" which in English translates to "bare mountain".
Things did not work out as planned and the project was a commercial failure and they abandoned it in 1914, but only after Gaudi had already created a plaza, steps, walkways and 3km of roads and the gatehouses. Parc Guell was bought back for use as a public park in 1922.
As you enter through the main entrance you will see the gatehouses, they seem almost edible and definitely must be from a fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel springs to mind.
First go and visit the Pavelló de Consergeria where you will see displays on the building methods Antoni Gaudi used and the history of the park. Check out the views from the top floor.
One of the Barcelona's sightseeing hot spots is just up the stairs from the entrance, it is the mosaic dragon, on the stairs just in front of the Sala Hipóstila, which is a forest of pillars, 88 in total, that hold up the Banc de Trencadís. This tiled bench that winds its way around the perimeter was actually designed by one of Antoni Gaudi's closest colleagues, Josep Maria Jujol. The really amazing thing about this structure is that it is like a giant filter that catches the rainwater that flows down the hillside, filters it and then leads it down to a deposit through the columns.
The Sala Hipóstila was originally meant to be a market but now you will hear musicians playing music there as you wonder through these strange bent stone columns.
Antoni Gaudi's house the Casa Museu Gaudi is also in Parc Guell, it was built in 1904 and is where Gaudi lived for almost 20 years, here you will see furniture made by him and other memorabilia. the house was meant to be the first of the 60 that were originally planned for the development and was actually the prototype.
To get there you can walk from the Lesseps metro station, it is about a 20 minute walk and the last 200m are quite steep, you just have to follow the signs. Another option is to walk from the Vallcarca metro station, the walk is shorter and the climb up the hill is made easier by the escalators, you can always get a taxi from the metro station if you want to avoid the steep climb. Bus number 24 stops near an entrance at the top of the park, get information on the bus routs from the tourist information points on Plaza Catalunya when you visit it.
I think visiting Parc guell is one of the most important things to do in Barcelona so make the effort to get there... you will not be dissapointed.
Parc Guell opening times
10am - 9pm from June to September
10am - 8pm from April, May and October
10am - 7pm March and November
10am to 6pm from December to February
Metro station: Lesseps or Vallcarca
Address: Carrer d'Olot 7
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