Antoni Gaudi's Park Guell - Utopian Environment in Barcelona, Spain
Visiting Park Güell
During the summer Olympics in Barcelona the trip that my husband had won afforded us several days of viewing specific Olympic events that we had requested as our preference. Those decisions were made before the trip to Spain was ever begun.
In most cases we were given the tickets to see those personally preferred competitions. But then we were also presented with options. We could turn in those coveted tickets and instead choose to go on tours in Barcelona. Since we had never been to Barcelona we decided to do some sightseeing as a mix of our experiences in that beautiful city.
Park Guell which was the architect Antoni Gaudi's creation was a part of one afternoon city tour. We were so happy to have gotten to see this creative architect's dream of a Utopian urban environment. We had never previously seen anything remotely similar nor have we viewed anything to equate to it since that time.
Photos of Guell Park in BarcelonaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Antoni Gaudi was born in 1852 in the town of Reus. He was a sickly child who had rheumatic fever so he spent quite a bit of time alone taking walks in the countryside. Probably because of spending so much time in natural settings he fell in love with nature which later represented itself in most of his creations.
He came from a family of coppersmiths. Gaudi went to architecture school in Barcelona and graduated with a degree in 1878. The vast majority of the buildings he created are centered in and around Barcelona so one can easily become acquainted with his highly individualistic style of architecture.
With a deep knowledge of geometry he eschewed the current construction methods of the time. Instead he chose to incorporate more sculptural forms inspired by nature using products like stone, wrought iron, wood and ceramic tiles. His unique buildings are easily recognizable from most others and Antoni Gaudi was a leader in the Art Nouveau or Modernist style which utilizes colors and curving forms.
Gaudi never married and died in 1926 a few days after being run over by a tram. The work for which he is probably the most famous is a great Gothic church called the Sagrada Familia is still to this day under construction. Antoni Gaudi is buried in a crypt inside that church.
From 1900 to 1914 Antoni Gaudi created what he had hoped would become a wonderful housing project for people in Barcelona. This location was on top of a hillside on 37 acres of land about 30 minutes from downtown Barcelona. It offered a wonderful panoramic view of the city below and it was to be a garden like setting for 60 residential lots for luxury homes.
This project failed financially and only three houses were ever built in addition to the ones that Count Eusebi Guell and Gaudi had constructed for themselves. Our guide speculated that this was perhaps just too far a distance outside of the center of the city at the time to draw enough people to that location to want to live there. Despite the fact of cleaner air and glorious views few people were enticed to purchase lots and have houses built. So today it survives as a beautiful and unusual city park open to visitors from not only Barcelona but the entire world to enjoy.
Shows the inside of Gaudi's house in Park Guell as well as wonderful exterior photos of the park.
The house in which Antoni Gaudi once resided is now a museum filled with curvaceous furniture also of his own design among other furnishings.
Brightly colored bits of broken china and glass are incorporated into the design one sees immediately at the entrance to Park Guell. Colorful dragon heads pour water from their mouths. An iron gate has a Palmetto palm design incorporated into it. There are definitely no straight lines! Pathways through the park twist and turn.
Along one path there are big round balls that are supposed to represent beads of the rosary. Antoni Gaudi was a devout Catholic which is why he spent the last years of his life committed to the building of "his" cathedral, the Sagrada Familia.
The buildings in Park Guell have a Hansel and Gretel appearance especially when looking at their fantastic rooftops.
What we found to be of great interest was the elevated public area. It had an undulating bench bedecked with the bits of colored pottery where people could rest and just enjoy the ambiance of the beautiful scenery. Gaudi had taken a mold of one of his worker's back and then designed the anatomically correct bench seating we were told by our tour guide.
In the center of this was a huge area containing sand. This was a finely designed water collection and storage system. Thick yards of sand in this elevated portion of the park filter rainwater.
Directed through the 86 Doric columns underneath the raised park area the filtered water was collected and stored in a reservoir. This was to have provided the residents with clean and good drinking water. Now the rainwater is utilized to keep the gardens watered when necessary.
Under this columned and shady area (with sand and benches above) was to have been a public market had Gaudi's Utopian residential environment succeeded and been populated with people living there. Even the underside of this columned area is decorated with huge medallions of colorful tile work. Although utilitarian in nature it was not neglected when it came to being decorated with artistic creations.
Barcelona's Guell Park in Spain is a treat for the senses. Combining a nice stroll through the gardens while getting to see the work and creations of one of history's most original architects is a pleasant experience we will not soon forget. His utopian environment will persist in our memories as well as delight tourists to that area seeing it for the first time over and over again.
A sampling of Gaudi's other works...
Are you familiar with Antoni Gaudi's architectural wonders?
Location of Barcelona, Spain
© 2009 Peggy Woods