Parc Guell

Carrer d'Olot on the Muntanya Pelada, north of the Gracia district
Barcelona, Spain

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

A sprawling complex of towers, galleries, pavilions and decorative landscaping on a hill overlooking Barcelona. One of Antoni Gaudi's masterpieces.

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Why It Works

The extraordinary craftsmanship and unusual use of materials and plants throughout the park catch and delight the eye, making Parc Guell one of the great parks of the world. It is also a place which offers opportunities to engage in different activities, including strolling, people-watching, eating at the cafe and meeting friends.

History & Background

The park was built between 1900-1914, originally planned to be a garden city on the estate of Eusebi Guell. Only two houses were built out of the 60 originally envisioned; Gaudi himself lived in one of them from 1906 to 1926, which is now the Casa-Museu Gaudi. The museum has notable examples of furnishings designed by Gaudi and personal memorabilia.

The park remained the private garden of the Guell family until the 1920s, when the family handed it over to the municipality to use as a public park. It is one of Gaudi's most colorful and playful works, even though it was never fully completed.

Two stone pavilions at the main entrance complete the wall surrounding the park. Intended as a porter's lodge and administrative building, their stone roofs have Catalan vaults of flat-laid brick finished with pieces of broken ceramic, called trencadis. The ceramic trencadis follow the sinuous geometric surfaces, a device which gives all of the park's ornamentation a unique beauty. Each roof is crowned by a small dome and above all stands a tall, spiral-shaped tower adorned with colorful tile and topped with Gaudi's characteristic four-branched cross. A grand stairway divided by a mythological dragon or lizard (which also serves as an overflow for the cistern) leads to the large hypostyle. Parc Guell was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1984.

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