Built between 1900 and 1914, Parc Güell was conceived as an English-style garden city, which were becoming popular in the early 20th century. Gaudí’s patron, Eusebi Güell, envisaged elegant, artistic villas, gardens and public spaces. However, the project failed. The space was sold to the city and, in 1926, reopened as a public park where Gaudí had let his imagination run riot on the pavilions, stairways, the main square with its sinuous tiled bench and the tiled columns of the marketplace.
C/d’Olot s/n • 90 220 03 02 (park); 93 256 21 22 (Casa del Guarda) • www.parkguell.cat • Open daily Jan–Mar: 8:30am–6:15pm; Apr: 8am–8:30pm; Jun–Aug: 8am–9:30pm; Sep & Oct: 8am–8:30pm; Nov & Dec: 8:30am–6:15pm; last entry 1 hr before closing • Adm to Monumental Zone €7 if bought online, €8.50 at entrance or from ticket machines; free under 6s, €5.25–6 under 12s; the rest of the park is free of charge; Casa del Guarda included with park ticket; separate ticket required for Casa-Museu Gaudí, adm €5.50
Jujol was one of Gaudí’s most gifted collaborators, responsible for decorating the 84 columns of the park’s marketplace, creating vivid ceiling mosaics from shards of broken tiles.
An enormous bench, which functions as a balustrade, ripples around the edge of Plaça de la Natura. Artists ranging from Miró to Dalí were inspired by its beautiful abstract designs created from colourful broken tiles.
These beautifully manicured gardens are modern, laid out in the 1970s on what was originally destined to be a plot for a mansion. They are especially lovely in the spring.
The porter’s lodge, one of two fairy-tale pavilions that guard the park entrance, is now an outpost of MUHBA, the Barcelona History Museum. It contains an exhibition dedicated to the history of Parc Güell.
A fountain runs along the length of this impressive, lavishly-tiled staircase, which is topped with whimsical creatures. The most famous of these is the enormous multicoloured dragon, which has become the symbol of Barcelona.
Gaudí created three viaducts to serve as carriageways through Parc Güell. Set into the steep slopes, and supported by archways and columns in the shape of waves or trees, they appear to emerge organically from the hill.
The park’s main square offers panoramic views across the city, and is fringed by a remarkable tiled bench. The square was originally called the Greek Theatre and was intended for open-air shows, with the audience watching from the surrounding terraces.
One of the park’s many pathways, this is known as the Portico of the Laundress after the woman bearing a basket of washing on her head, which is carved into an arch.
One of only two houses to be built in Parc Güell, this became Gaudí’s home and contains original furnishings and memorabilia. It is located outside the Monumental Zone.
Three crosses crown the very top of the hill, marking the spot where Gaudí and Güell, both intensely religious men, intended to build Parc Güell’s chapel. The climb to the top is well worth it in order to enjoy the spectacular city views.
Sadly, many of Gaudí’s ideas for Parc Güell were never realized owing to the economic failure of Eusebi Güell’s garden city. Among the most daring of these ideas was his design for an enormous entrance gate, which he intended to be swung open by a pair of gigantic mechanical gazelles.