Park Güell

Location: Barcelona, Gràcia district
Architect: Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

photo of Park Güell by Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

Park Güell is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona. It was designed and built in the years 1900 to 1914. Its most characteristic elements are the two entrance pavilions, the dragon between the stairs leading to the the main terrace, and the long bench in the form of a sea serpent that surrounds the main terrace. The large cross at the Park's high-point offers the most complete view of Barcelona, with the Sagrada Familia and the Montjuïc area visible at a distance.

The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site financed by Count Eusebi Güell. It was inspired by the English garden city movement. The site was a rocky hill with little vegetation and few trees that only included a large country house called Larrard House. The intention was to exploit the fresh air (well away from smoky factories) and beautiful views from the site, with sixty triangular lots being provided for luxury houses. Count Eusebi Güell added to the prestige of the development by moving in 1906 to live in Larrard House. Ultimately, only two houses were built, neither designed by Gaudí. One was intended to be a show house, but on being completed in 1904 was put up for sale, and as no buyers came forward, Gaudí, at Güell's suggestion, bought it and moved in with his family and his father in 1906.

Park Güell is skillfully designed and composed to bring the peace and calm that one would expect from a park. The buildings flanking the entrance, though very original and remarkable with fantastically shaped roofs with unusual pinnacles, fit in well with the use of the park as pleasure gardens and seem relatively inconspicuous in the landscape when one considers the flamboyance of other buildings designed by Gaudí.

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Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, modernist art, architecture