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Parc Guell - Attractions

Parc Guell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site to which Gaudi dedicated 14 long years (1900-1914). Count Eusebi Güell (also of Palau Guell fame) took inspiration from the English ‘garden city movement’ and commissioned Gaudi to build a luxury residence park for the Spanish elite. The proposal was to build 60 houses in a lavish park with scenic views and fresh air, secluded from the pollution and noise of the city. Count Guell’s vision never came to pass; realizing the commercial failure of the project, he sold the park to the city in 1918 and it was opened as a public park in 1922. Of the original housing project, only two pavilions of Gaudi’s design and two houses (not by Gaudi) were built on the site.

At the entrance, you will be greeted by a giant mosaic dragon staring benignly from across the doorway. Because of its mesmerizing colors and mosaic decor, it may take you a few minutes to register the two pavilions flanking the entrance. Designed by Gaudi, the two structures have a whimsical quality to them, as if come alive from a child’s imagination or a fairy tale. Fanciful they may be, but they fit in well with the mood of the Parc.

Climbing up the steps from the dragon fountain will bring you to the large terrace area, with wonderful views of the city. You will spot the Sagrada Familia, the Montjuic and Torres Agbar standing loftily in the distance with the bay gleaming blue on the horizon. Climbing further will bring you to the high point of the Parc with the natural height of the hill offering unrivaled panoramas of the city.

Gaudi was a lover of natural elements, and examples of this can be seen throughout the park. The serpentine seat snaking along the perimeter of the terrace follows a natural curvature creating several nooks for cozy interactions. It is adorned entirely in mosaic and is surprisingly comfortable for a stone bench. The mosaic work across the park is breathtaking and a little known fact is that Gaudi used only recycled ceramics from broken tiles, cups and plate to create all his mosaics.

The stone pillars supporting the walkway are another magnificent example. They give the impression of giant tree trunks rising high from the ground and blend beautifully into the background. The roadways in the Parc are also made of local stone helping them merge seamlessly into the terrain.

Parc Guell is truly the genius of a master at work. You will be hard placed to separate the natural from the artificial, for Gaudi has combined the two together flawlessly. It captures the air of tranquility and ease expected in a park but surpasses them to offer you much more. Gaudi actually lived in one of the houses (Casa Museu Gaudi) for 20 years and you have the opportunity to explore that as well for a small fee.

Making a rushed visit to Parc Guell will be doing it, and yourself, an injustice. Put aside half a day, preferably in the morning when it’s less crowded, to give yourself time to discover its many marvels.

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