A surprise awaits you at every turn in this fantasmagorical park with fabulous views over the city.
The site of Park Güell in the north of Barcelona was originally earmarked for an up-market residential development by Count Eusebi Güell, Gaudí’s patron. The hillside location was chosen for its fresh air and beautiful views, but in the end only two houses were built and Gaudí moved into one of them. His designs for the 15-hectare park reflect his quirky sense of humour and aversion to straight lines. Construction took place between 1900 and 1914 and the park is now an essential stop-off on the Gaudí trail and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The entrance at the bottom of the hill is flanked by two gingerbread-style gatehouses, from where you can take several different routes through the parkland to the top of the steep hill. Before you start the climb, pause to take a photograph by the famous lizard fountain, known locally as “el drac” (the dragon), a multi-coloured mosaic extravaganza. The mosaic theme is reflected throughout the park, notably on the main terrace which is the park’s focal point. Take a breather on the bench which curves sinuously around the terrace in the shape of a giant sea serpent, and enjoy fabulous views over the city, dominated by the iconic spires of the Sagrada Familia. Then carry on to the park’s highest point, marked with a huge cross, for more panoramas of the bay with Montjuïc in the distance.
Once you’ve thoroughly explored the park, pay your respects to its creator at the Gaudí House Museum, Gaudí’s former home. The house itself was not designed by Gaudí but it contains items of furniture and other examples of his work, as well as souvenirs to buy.
Park Güell is open from 10 a.m. daily and closing times vary seasonally. Entry is free but the Gaudí House Museum has a modest charge. The 20-minute uphill walk from the nearest metro station can be tiring, especially on a hot day, so catch the bus for an easier journey and save your energy for the park itself.