“Go to Barcelona” they said, “you’ll love it”. They weren’t wrong, of course. It’s a great place to explore, either on your own or with friends. Unlike other places in Europe that I’ve visited recently though – Amsterdam and Prague, for example – there was something about the Catalan city that really has me aching to go back.
I’ve already mentioned some of the amazing street art in Barcelona that I stumbled upon during my trip there earlier this year, but there’s so much more to this European city. Barcelona has something for everyone. It has perfected the balance between cultural capital and modern metropolis – plus, it’s the proud owner of a Champions League-winning football team.
Unfortunately my trip to the city earlier this year didn’t include a tour of Camp Nou (maybe one day…), but my friend and I did manage to pack in a full day of sightseeing by way of a City Sightseeing Bus.
The tour included stops at all the well-known tourist hotspots, including the breathtakingly beautiful Sagrada Familia and the buzzing Las Ramblas. But my favourite of the day was definitely Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell.
Originally planned as a housing development, the park was commissioned by Eusebi Güell (pronounced Goo-eh) in 1900. Güell and Gaudí had visions of creating a gated community for Barcelona’s rich movers and shakers. Back then the plot of land that the park was to be built on was in the countryside, away from the hustle and noise of busy Barcelona. Nowadays the park is just within the city limits, though it isn’t centrally located (so the best way to get there is by bus).
Eusebi Güell had planned for around 60 house to be built in the gated community, in addition to a large square, market area and other services needed to sustain the population. However, Barcelona’s elite were not interested in the vision, so only two houses were eventually built (one of which Gaudí lived in until his death). The start of WWI and the lack of interest saw the project abandoned in 1914, and by 1922 the city turned the land into a public park.
In 1984 UNESCO declared Barcelona’s Park Güell a World Heritage Site. It is one of the most impressive Gaudí projects in the city, and well worth the extra effort it takes to get up to from the city centre. I’ve found it hard to describe the park in just a few words, so instead of rambling on, here are some pictures I snapped while wandering around the grounds.
As you can see, it was a glorious sunny day, and even for the beginning of February, it got up to 19c.
While waiting for our allotted time to enter the paid for part of the park, my friend and I sat in the sun drinking a jug of sangria and enjoying an ice cream. We watched little green parakeets dart from the trees overhead to the floor, where they would pick up bits of straw and twigs, to take back to their nests. It was a very relaxing afternoon, though the sangria went to our heads a bit.
Alongside Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, Park Güell is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona. It will give you a great taste of Gaudí’s signature style and creative genius – and the park offers some of the most stunning views of Barcelona.
A visit to Park Güell will take a bit of planning and at least half a day. Here are a few tips to help beat the crowds and make sure you get the most from your visit:
- There are 2 options for entering the park: The Monumental Zone and the free, unrestricted access area. The Monumental Zone offers all of the points of interest, and you must pay to access it (7€ if booked in advance).
- Buy tickets online before you go, or you’ll be charged 8€ on the gate.
- You’ll be given an allotted time to enter. Entry will not be allowed outside of the times stated on the ticket.
- There is free wi-fi in the Monumental Zone (though we didn’t need to use this as I’m on Three, so can use my phone abroad for free in Spain).
- The ticket price does not include entrance to Gaudí’s house, “La Torre Rosa”. If you visit both the house and the Sagrada Familia, there is a discounted rate.
Have you been to Park Güell? What did you think of Gaudí’s vision and style? Drop me a comment below and let me know what you thought.
Oh, and if you’re wondering how I took all these pics, pop over to this post to find out which camera I use for all the photos on my blog (clue, it’s not what you think).