Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Parc Guell is yet another of architect Antonio Gaudis great gifts to the city of Barcelona. Built between 1900-1914, this 20-hectare park sits on the hills to the north of Barcelonas main areas. It provides a peaceful oasis of lush greenery and outstanding architectural elements.
On the northern edge of town, visitors have a spectacular vista to see much of Barcelona arrayed below. The terraced gardens provide an excellent combination of the natural and artificial. Seating available shows another example of the colorful mosaic tile that Gaudi loved to incorporate in his design for the park.
Stop at the small cafe on the outer edge before entering and have a cool drink. Barcelona can get very hot and many of the hills are steep. For visitors needing a little more sustenance, there are several small restaurants to choose from. Note the outstanding dragon-themed fountain as you enter. Take a moment to enjoy the multi-colored tile adorning it. Then stroll down the flower-festooned walkways dotted with many mosaic tiles that show Gaudis distinctive influence.
But there are just as many interesting sights further inside the park itself. Theres a museum dedicated to Gaudis art, filled with photos and other items both instructive and decorative. Once the architects house, it contains furniture designed by Gaudi himself.
Outside once again, alongside the lush shrubbery reside many worthy sights, including sculpture, columns, restaurants and museums. Even the benches are works of art. There is one enormous, curved example that is famed throughout the city, the Paseo de Palmas.
Further on are still more examples of wondrous sights. The Hall of the Hundred Columns (Sala de las Cien Columnas) is an array of classical supports. But what they support is drawn from later styles, such as the romantic-era balcony, which is covered in mosaic tiles of a more modern design.
Nearby theres a walkway supported by twisted rock pillars, introducing yet another style. Irregular and organic in appearance, they demonstrate another facet of the organic eclecticism Gaudi embraced.
There are a number of entrances to the park and visitors will want to choose accordingly. Taking the metro to the Lesseps stop, brings one to the base. That leads to a steep climb up the hill on which the park rests. Challenging, but great exercise in Barcelonas fine air. Taking the metro to the stop at Vallcarca brings the traveler via outdoor escalators to the top of the park, allowing for an easy walk down the hill.
Admission to the park is free and most buildings open at 10 a.m.