On the Northern edge of the city of Barcelona stands one of Gaudi’s least successful projects Parc Güell. We decided that this would make a nice quiet afternoon visit – not quite true as it was remarkably busy and very warm for the 20 minute walk uphill from the metro!
Park Güell is where Gaudí turned his hand to landscape gardening. It’s a strange place where his passion for natural forms really took flight – some of the structures in the landscape are very large, but strangely appear natural. Its other great offering is the view out across the city towards the sea, it is frankly wonderful – well worth the climb!
Park Güell originated in 1900, when Count Eusebi Güell bought a tree-covered hillside (then well outside Barcelona) and hired Gaudí to create a miniature city of houses for the wealthy in landscaped grounds. The project was however a commercial flop (it was too far outside the city) and was abandoned in 1914 – but not before Gaudí had created 3km of roads and walks, steps, a plaza and two gatehouses (which look like something from Hansel and Gretal). He also built a house for his own occupation which he lived in until his death in 1926 – which is now a museum in his memory.
The park is now public – and free – which is perhaps why it is so popular. It is worth a visit however if only to see the gate houses with their multi coloured tile roofs and the structure just to the rear of the main entrance (built as a market area (but never used).
I am not sure it’s failure as a commercial venture can be laid at Gaudi’s feet! The design is remarkable, it was down to location – as important then as it is today in property decisions!