Park Güell is now one of the most spectacular sights of Barcelona, with millions of visitors flocking to see the hallucinogenic organic architectural features of architect Gaudìs creation.
In 1900, Count Eusebi Güell bought land in order to build a small, exclusive housing development. Güell planned to build dozens of houses and flip them for a profit, and hired Antonio Gaudì, the hottest architect around, to oversee the project. But it was an unmitigated disaster, and only two houses were built.
The project was an utter disaster, Güell and Gaudì failed overestimated the demand for such high class residences so far away from the center. Eventually, the area was sold to the government who decided to turn it into a public park.
The construction started in 1901 and was divided into three periods. First of all, the sloping hills had to be strengthened, and secondly the roads constructed. The final period included the construction of 2 houses out of the 20, which were to be built. They were to be used to promote the project, but ended up being used by Antonio Gaudí with his father, who both lived there for 20 years, and today these homes are museums.
The park was a rocky hill with little vegetation and few trees, called Muntanya Pelada (Bare Mountain). It has since been converted into a municipal garden. Basically, only two houses were built, neither designed by Gaudí. One was intended to be a show house, but after it was completed in 1904 they put it for sale. No buyers came forward; Gaudí bought it with his savings and moved in with his family and his father in 1906. This house, where Gaudí lived from 1906 to 1926, was built by Francesc Berenguer in 1904. It contains original works by Gaudí and several of his collaborators.
The most finished part of the park is overlooking the Olot Street. At the entrance to the park there are two gingerbread houses, one of which is surmounted by a cross, and the second a toadstool. Nowadays, the houses are used as a café and a souvenirs shop. If you go through the entrance you will see stairs with fountains and also a mosaic lizard, which is a symbol of Catalunya.
Walking up the stairs will lead you to the highest point of the mountain, where you can see a big square-terrace, which is surrounded by a large bench. While working on the park, Antonio Gaudí was designing the Sagrada Familia, at which time he instructed all the workers to collect all the ceramic elements (broken plates, bottles, tile). All what he collected was crushed into small pieces and used to decorate the large bench.
Gaudí's Park Güell has an ingenious system of roads, stone arches and pillars, all of which were tilted at the most improbable angles.
If you are in Barcelona, a visit to Park Güell should definitely be on your list. Enjoy this park, as you can savor your memories for years to come. Parc Güell can be reached by the green metro Line L3 to Lesseps (from here it is approximately 10 minutes walk), by city buses, or by commercial tourist buses.