Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi, 1st Count of Güell (December 15,1846 -July 8, 1918) was a rich industrialist, who first met the architect, Antoni Gaudí, in the Spanish Pavilion, at the World Fair in Paris in 1878. He soon became Gaudí’s patron, and the beginning of their building aspirations started. In 1890, Güell established a worker’s colony for his factory employees. The village included homes with larger rooms, and wide windows with good ventilation. Güell believed happy families made for happy workers. The village also included shops, cafes, theaters, library and a boys school. Güell commissioned Gaudí to built a church and a crypt for his village. Eventually, the workers’ village project ran into financial difficulties and had to be abandoned.
In 1900, Güell decided to buy a hill and some land in the country near Barcelona so Gaudí could design a park in a similar setting as the worker’s village, this time for the wealthy. It was thought the wealthy would like living in a community just for them in a park setting, with clean, fresh air, away from the dirt and grime of Barcelona. The project was based on the garden city movement in the UK. There would be 59 private residences on triangular shaped lots. They wanted high-quality homes with all the latest technological advancements for maximum comfort, finished with an artistic touch. Only two homes were ever built there (not by Gaudi, but definitely with his ‘Look” in mind) The gingerbread type houses and the distance from the city were considered too remote and not acceptable to the people, who could afford to buy them. One was intended to be a show house, but on being completed in 1904 was put up for sale, and no buyers came forward. Güell and his family moved into one of the existing houses on the property, a large country house called Larrard House and Gaudí moved into one of the newly designed homes. The Park Güell project started in 1900 and was completed in 1914.
Gaudí once remarked to Güell, “Sometimes I think we are the only people who like this architecture.” Güell replied, “I don’t like your architecture, I respect it.” Güell died in his house in 1918 and by 1923 the family had given the land to the city as Park Güell.
So let’s take a look at the amazing Park Güell! You must get tickets and they are time-stamped to allow only a certain number of people into the park at one time. A great idea, to keep the park from being overrun with tourists! There are two tickets to be purchased: one for the Monumental Zone (main entrance, terrace, and the parts containing mosaics, and another for Gaudí’s house, la Torre Rosa, containing furniture that he designed.
The entrance to the park represents the gates to heaven………along with Gaudí’s famous street lights, the first of his design projects.
Gaudí didn’t think there were any straight lines in nature. All of his modernistic designs are based on curves. As in Casa Milà, the building he built for the Milà family, there are no straight lines anywhere. As you can see in the shrubbery here, they make a rolling wave and the stairway is curved! The construction of buildings, sculptures and roads at Park Güell completely respected the topography of the mountain. Gaudí didn’t do any leveling to the ground. He put retaining walls where necessary. These walls and pillars that supported the roads are shaped like trunks and palm trees and are made of stone that’s the same color as the land where they stand. The previous name of the park was “bare park.” Gaudí introduced a multitude of plants and Mediterranean vegetation that adapted well to the envirenment. He brought pine, carob trees, oaks, cork oaks, eucalyptus, palm trees, cypresses, olives, figs, almond trees and many other flora that contributed to the growth of wildlife as a consequence. As with all his projects he planned for everything!
The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere. And here we have the Salamander!
There are details in Park Güell, such as the philosopher’s stone, a symbol of alchemy — that’s well visible at the entrance staircase, above the Salamander.
At one point Gaudí watched as his assistants placed the tiles of the mosaics on one at a time. He told them to take handfuls and lump it on or it would take forever to complete! It still took fourteen years! Here we have the Snake, surrounded by the Catalan flag.
Here is the “Forest of Pillars.” There are 86 columns with four rosettes representing the four seasons and 20-tipped suns in different colors. The gargoyles drain water from the seating park above.
The “Forest of Pillars” was meant to be for food stalls and a marketplace.
A look from the top of Park Güell out over Barcelona………..
These buildings were to be the residence of the doorman and administration. These beautiful buildings were inspired by the story of Hänsel and Gretel.
The one that could have been the house of the doorman, has on its roof a dome in the shape of a mushroom. The other house, now a bookstore and souvenir shop, is crowned by a four-armed Gaudí cross, pointing in the four cardinal directions. This cross was destroyed in 1936 and rebuilt after the Spanish Civil War.
I hope you have enjoyed our visit to Park Güell! It is one of a kind and denotes Gaudí’s love of detail, architecture, nature, and religion. Next, we our going to see Gaudí’s greatest work, Sagrada Família. You won’t want to miss this most visited sight in Barcelona! See you there!