Barcelona, the capital of the Spanish region of Catalonia, is known for being a vibrant, colourful, and attractive city that always has plenty going on. Famous for its stunning and unusual architecture, it is often referred to as Gaudi’s City because of the varied masterpieces created by the famous architect, Antoni Gaudi.
From the ornate and revered Sagrada Familia and Casa Vicens, with splashes of bright colours and Islamic influences, to the elegant Cascada Fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella and Casa Mila / La Pedrera with its quirky chimneys and fluid-like curves, there are many marvels to behold. For a combination of architecture, art, and nature, however, few places are better than the lovely Park Guell.
A public park on Barcelona’s Carmel Hill, here’s why you should add Park Guell to your Barcelona itinerary:
A historical heritage site
Park Guell was built at the start of the 1900s, officially opening in 1926. Providing inspiration and a place of leisure for almost a century, it was also, in 1984, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Originally part of a housing development scheme, the stony hill was home to an existing country house, with high-class homes in the nearby surroundings. The project was unsuccessful though, with just two homes having been built (neither by Gaudi). The famous architect did, however, purchase one of the houses, and he lived there for 20 years. It is now a museum, Casa Museu Gaudi, dedicated to Gaudi and it contains some of his original plans and designs, furnishings, and personal objects. A fairly grand dusky-pink castle-like building, with a tower, spire, turrets, and ornate white decorative touches, admission to the museum costs 5.50 EUR (6 USD).
Peaceful areas with plenty of nature
Throughout the expansive park you will find pockets of serene peacefulness, perfect for sitting for a while in contemplation, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Indeed, the park was designed to have a tranquil air. Seats and benches are positioned around the park, with tall trees offering plenty of shade on sunny days. Lots of lush greenery soothes the soul, while bright flowers provide bursts of colour and sweet scents.
Several bird species call the park home, including parrots and eagles, as well as insects, butterflies, and small rodents. Stroll along the numerous pathways through the wooded areas and see what you can spot!
Spectacular views of the park and beyond
Head to Park Guell’s highest point, marked by a large cross, and you can enjoy splendid panoramic views of not only the striking park and all its magical features, but also the city of Barcelona. With views stretching to the coast, you can make out the iconic Sagrada Familia and other famous landmarks in the distance.
The terrace, complete with its beautiful mosaics and curved edges, also provides excellent views, and you’ll come across numerous great vantage points as you explore the magnificent park.
Buildings that look as though they belong in a fairytale
The two whimsical buildings that flank the main entrance to the park look like they have been transported to Barcelona straight out of a magical fairytale land from far, far away. The roofs and windows are particularly fantastic, with one looking as though the roof is just melting down the walls, rather like an ice cream, in the hot Barcelona sunshine. Indeed, these eye-catching buildings were inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen tale of Hansel and Gretel, two young children who discovered a house made from candy deep inside a forest.
Originally constructed as enchanting gatehouses and delightful homes for the park’s caretakers, the buildings now contain exhibitions and displays about the park’s creation and history.
Numerous interesting features around the park
As well as ornate statues and stonework around the free areas of the park, the Monumental Area, the main point of interest, is brimming with visually exciting features.
As you ascend the main steps you’ll find yourself alongside beautiful fountains, including the mosaic gecko / salamander that often appears on promotional material for the park. Although it may be smaller in real life than you may have been expecting, its quirkiness and eccentricity are still appealing. Look out the for unusual goblin-like faces too!
At the top of the steps you’ll find yourself under a wavy-edged roof, supported by soaring columns. Look up and you’ll see more colourful mosaics that form interesting designs on the ceiling. This area is known as the Hypostyle Room, and it was originally intended to be the market place for the housing estate that never came to fruition.
On top of the Hypostyle Room is the well-known terrace, with its serpentine seating and vibrant designs.
Other interesting features include the portico with its slanted archways, three stone viaducts, and the Austria Gardens.
Practical information for visiting Park Guell
The nearest train stations and bus stops are around a 15-minute walk away, and you will need to walk up some very steep roads to reach the park, though there are some escalators to ease the pressure in parts. Or, you can catch a taxi right to the entrance. There are many steps and uneven surfaces throughout the park, and you should definitely wear comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking.
Expect your visit to take around two hours to explore the Monumental Zone and small areas of the free zone.
There are several restrooms around the park, as well as places where you can purchase drinks and snacks.
Whilst it is free to enter the main part of the park, which provides access to Casa Museu Gaudi, many of the main attractions are located within the Monumental Area. The on-the-door entrance fees for the Monumental Area are 8 EUR (8.75 USD) for adults and 5.60 EUR (6.15 USD) for children between the ages of seven and twelve. It is free for children aged six and under. Small discounts are available if you buy your tickets online through the official website. Conditions of entry can be found on the website.
The park is open in the spring-summer high season (early May to late August) from 8 am to 9.30 pm, with the last admission to the Monumental Area being at 8.30 pm. Opening times for other seasons are published on the official website.
One of Barcelona’s beautiful highlights, don’t miss a visit to the splendid Park Guell.
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