Saturday, June 22, 2019

May 24 Barcelona Spain

May 2019 - Barcelona Spain

We knew the weather just couldn't cooperate for one more day! Raining as we walk across the street for breakfast.

I asked for one pastry but she gave me two because they were small.

Waiting in the lobby and I overhear the desk clerk apologize to someone that the cabs were delayed due to a metro strike. We head out and manage to flag one down. It is a 10 euro drive to Parque Guell, another Gaudi creation. Google estimated the walk as 1.5 hours and our tickets were for 9:30. It was sprinkling but fine for our visit.

You might remember that yesterday we visited Palau Guell, a mansion designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell.

Park Güell is located in La Salut, a neighborhood in the Gràcia district of Barcelona. With urbanization in mind, Eusebi Güell assigned the design of the park to Antoni Gaudí, a renowned architect and the face of Catalan modernism.


A well-meaning attempt to turn a site on Muntanya Pelada (Bare Mountain) into a model housing development in the tradition of the English garden city movement, Park Güell was actually a flop when it debuted and was abandoned in 1914. Count Eusebi Güell, one of Gaudi's greatest patrons, had hired the architect to create a miniature city outside Barcelona, and while it tanked before the architect was able to design any of his own homes, his landscaping work has made this one of the city's most beloved parks. From a plaza and pair of gatehouses to “el drac,” a multihued salamander mosaic on the main grounds, Gaudi's public architecture on this site stands as a highlight of his more naturalistic phase. Curved benches in the shape of sea serpents and pathways which lead up to a vista with a wonderful panoramic view of Barcelona make Park Güell a must-see for any visitor. During the later part of his life, Gaudi lived in a house in the park, La Torre Rosa, for decades.

The park was built from 1900 to 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. In 1984, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site under "Works of Antoni Gaudí".

Park Güell is designed and composed to bring the peace and calm that one would expect from a park. The buildings flanking the entrance, though very original and remarkable with fantastically shaped roofs with unusual pinnacles, fit in well with the use of the park as pleasure gardens and seem relatively inconspicuous in the landscape when one considers the flamboyance of other buildings designed by Gaudí.

The two main pavilions were used as the porter´s lodge and the porter´s residence. The Park´s walls, of peculiar shapes, are topped with ceramic tiling and bear the name of this masterpiece: “Parc Güell”. All the design clearly reminds us of the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.

Güell and Gaudí conceived this park, situated within a natural park. They imagined an organized grouping of high-quality homes, decked out with all the latest technological advancements to ensure maximum comfort, finished off with an artistic touch. They also envisioned a community strongly influenced by symbolism, since, in the common elements of the park, they were trying to synthesize many of the political and religious ideals shared by patron and architect: therefore there are noticeable concepts originating from political Catalanism – especially in the entrance stairway where the Catalan countries are represented – and from Catholicism – the Monumento al Calvario, originally designed to be a chapel. The mythological elements are so important: apparently Güell and Gaudí's conception of the park was also inspired by the Temple of Apollo of Delphi.

The Hypostyle Room was designed to be the market for the estate. It is made up of 86 striated columns inspired in the Doric order. The outermost ones slope in an undulating movement clearly contrary to the rules of classical composition, while reinforcing a perception of their structural role. The colonnade is crowned by an architrave on which the undulating bench is placed. A conduit running inside it collects the rainwater that filters down from the square, sending it on to an underground tank, which has the stairway dragon’s mouth as its overflow. Inside the room the absence of columns in some sections creates spaces that simulate three naves, like a great church. The ceiling is formed by small domes constructed using the traditional technique of clay bricks decorated with original tile-shard mosaics made by Josep M. Jujol, one of Gaudí’s assistants.

However, as time went on, its superb design has given it other important functions: as a tourist attraction and as a concert hall for renowned artists.

Ceiling mosaic in the Hypostyle Room.

The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere. Gaudí incorporated many motifs of Catalan nationalism, and elements from religious mysticism and ancient poetry, into the Park. Much of the design of the benches was the work not of Gaudí but of his often overlooked collaborator Josep Maria Jujol,

This 3000m2 square is surrounded by the famous wavy benches. Decorated with tiny pieces of ceramic and glass, these benches are mainly in blue, green and yellow, with the symbolic meaning of faith, hope and charity, respectively.

The Magic Viaducts are another important part of the Park, often described as the best symbols of the nature throughout the whole park. These paths are around 3km long, and are the best solution to overcome the topography and connect the various parts of the park. The Viaducts were designed in different styles. The Museum Viaduct (also referred as the Lower Bridge) is in Gothic style, the Carob Viaduct (the Middle Bridge) in Baroque, and the Jardiniere Viaduct (the High Bridge) in Romantic style. All three viaducts are linked by a main path called “El camino del Rosario” in Spanish.

A walkway supported by twisting rock pillars that seem to be growing out of the ground like tree trunks. Although these are rather irregular in shape they do feel strangely natural too.

Gaudí was strongly influenced by natural shapes and used them in his work.

Bird nests built by Gaudí in the terrace walls. The walls imitate the trees planted on them.

Gate surrounding this house that I am having trouble identifying.

Gaudí's multicolored mosaic salamander, popularly known as "el drac" (the dragon), at the main entrance, as restored after the vandalism of February 2007

The grounds themselves are gorgeous, a shame that it is a dull day for photos.

Gaudi mimicking nature.

Park Güell also has a small house in the park which Gaudí lived in at one stage.

The architect of the park ended up living in one of the two show houses completed for the estate. In 1906, he moved into the house in Park Güell with his elderly father and ill niece. Living here allowed for Gaudí to keep a close eye on the park, which was under construction at the time. BUT, plot twist: Gaudí didn’t design the house in which he lived in Park Güell. Many are of the impression that Gaudí designed the show houses that are present in Park Güell, but this is incorrect. They were designed by another Catalan architect, Francesc Berenguer. Despite this, the house that Gaudí lived in is now known as the Gaudí House Museum.

In 1907, Eusebi Güell converted the old mansion (Casa Larrard), that was already there when he bought the site for development, into his residence.

It's going to be a lot easier to walk down.

Looked like a bar/restaurant decked out like a Gaudi creation.

Gaudi, himself, inside a ticket/souvenir office.

Yes, it is quite a slant.

The famous Jaume Fuster Library in Gràcia's Plaça de Lesseps stands out with its luminous geometric structure. It was built on the former site of a metro garage and workshop, which was abandoned for many years.

This building, of enormous architectural value, was built by the architect Josep Llinàs and earned him the 2006 FAD prize for architecture, one of the most important awards in this field that is granted in Spain.

The building, the inside of which is equally impressive as the outside, has one of the best library collections in the city, with more than 104,000 items available for public use. In addition it has a local collection with historical documents that include references to the district of Gràcia and to local literary writers who lived or have lived in Gràcia.

Coffee break at the library in the rain.

The square is named after Ferdinand de Lesseps, the developer of the Suez Canal. Earlier in his career, De Lesseps was the French consul in Barcelona. He is known in Barcelona for having intervened against the 1842 bombing of the city ordered by General Baldomero Espartero and Captain-General Juan Van Halen. Before 1895 the square had been known as Josepets, after the 1626 convent of Santa Maria de Gràcia, also known as Els Josepets", which remained a popular name for the square, although now outdated.

In order to strengthen the sense of place the architect tried to create artificial landscape as a new focus. Dynamic composition of metal sculptures, that resemble cubistic collage or supremacist creation, was to become a new value of the public space, giving it new character.

The baroque church Josepets de Gràcia, in 1626 the barefoot Carmelite friars founded a convent there at the point where the Vallcarca and Cassoles streams met. That was back in 1626 and the old convent gave rise to the town of Gràcia. All that remains of the Carmelite complex today is the Baroque church, which stands at one end of the square.

Next on the agenda in this neighbourhood was another Gaudi creation.

This single-family residence for Manuel Vicens was the first Gaudí designed. The site was small (smaller today after the widening of the street) and conventional structures already existed in the area. This early work exhibits several influences, most notably the Moorish (or Mudéjar) influence, particularly evident at the top. The house is constructed of undressed stone, rough red bricks, and colored ceramic tiles in checkerboard and floral patterns.

Manuel Vicens was the owner of a brick and tile factory so the ceramic tiles pay tribute to his employment. The yellow, zinnia-flowered tile, designed by Gaudí, was manufactured by Vicens.

We spent some time wandering around trying to find some murals I had read about, but gave up as the rain increased as did our hunger and wetness.

Some sights.

Mercat de la Llibertat where I thought we could have lunch but everything was too fishy for John's tastes.

Back in the pouring rain and we walk into the first place that catches my eye. What a find! Taberna del Cura.

Absolutely perfect to while away a few hours in a nice and dry spot.

It was quiet when we first came in but it soon was packed with locals.

John's mussels.

The broth which he could not stop eating, they should have given him a glass.

Leg of lamb and mashed potatoes for me. We had decided this was going to be our main meal for the day.

Looks delicious, hake wrapped around?? but it wasn't what John ordered.

His potato tortilla (or torta or omelet).

We didn't want dessert, but were served this.

Back out and the rain has not really let up. But we are stuffed and walk the 30 minutes or so back to the hotel.

It continued to pour and got even heavier so we relaxed in the room, I repacked my suitcase as I had pulled everything out for my rain jacket, John watched some movies and we just got mellow with a bottle of wine (and chips and chocolate).

Heading home in the morning!

Would have been a lot more steps if the rain had let up even a little. No fun being soaked.

Links to previous posts about this trip:

      Florence Street Art 1 Clet
      Florence Street Art 2 Blub
      Florence Street Art 3 Superwomen
      Badìa Fiorentina Abbey and Church/Dante/Homeless Jesus
May 20 - Florence
May 21 - Florence to Barcelona
May 22 - Barcelona
Church of The Virgin of Gràcia and St. Joseph
May 23 - Barcelona
      Santa Maria del Mar
      Sant Augusti Church (St. Rita)


  1. Amazing architecture in Park Guell.

  2. Whether one likes Gaudi's architecture or not, he was surely one of the most adventurous of his time and what a legacy he has left.


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