As a young aspiring traveler, I used to browse through hundreds of travel magazines and watch countless documentaries featuring some of the most amazing sights and destinations the world has to offer.
Most of these destinations have left a lasting impression on me, shaping the kind of traveler and adventurer that I am today. However, I must confess that some destinations excited me more than others and there are others that just simply took my breath away at first glance.
The magnificent Parc Guell at the heart of the the Catalunya region in Barcelona, just knocked me off my feet. It was more than I could have ever hoped it would be, and it was more impressive that I thought it would be.
I was on a whirlwind 48-hour trip to Barcelona recently and I was determined to visit Prac Guell on my very first hour. You see, I have long dreamed of visiting it to gaze at the colorful mosaic and touch the architectonic installations that the genius artist Antoni Gaudi envisioned. Gaudi, of course, is the single most influential figure and proponent of Catalan modernism.
Built in the early 1900’s and officially unveiled to the public in 1926, the park was commissioned by wealthy Catalan businessman Eusebi Guell. It is world-famous because of its colorful mosaics, and structures that reflect Gaudi’s very singular and unique architectural style.
Most experts agree that Gaudi’s basis for his style is Baroque, but he threw away the rigid forms, and mixed his style with his love of organic shapes, that is now heavily visible in the stone structures inside the park. He mastered this style by studying the elements of geometry and expanding its basic principles.
Parc Guell is located at the Carmen Hill in the neigborhood of Gracia in Barcelona. To get there, you have to take a cab or else, it would be a steep climb, because of its elevated location.
But all effort is worth it as soon as you get a glimpse of irregularly shaped pavilions that form the porter’s lodge both of which that adorn the main park entrance. According to the park’s website, ” The one to the left was the one actually used as a porter’s lodge, with a waiting room and telephone booth, while the one to the right was the porter’s residence, whence the name Casa del Guarda, though it is today part of the Barcelona History Museum. Both have very beautiful roofs, built with the traditional Catalan clay tiles covered with “trencadís”, a mosaic made of tile shards”
To get inside Parc Guell you will have to pay the 8 Euro fee and then you can explore on your own.
The Dragon Stairway
One of the main attractions is the Dragon Stairway, highlighted by the multicolored salamander statue that welcomes visitors at the main stairs of the park. It is so full of character and color that locals have lovingly nicknamed it “el drac” or the dragon. The stairway is made up of a twin flight of steps, flanked by two walls with merlons that form terraces which hides two grottos. The emblem of Catalonia is also displayed at the stairway.
The Hypostyle Room
The great park stairway leads to the Hypostyle Room, which was originally designed to be the marketplace of the estate. It is made up of about 86 Doric columns.
The Laundry Room Portico
The Laundry Room Portico is my favorite area in Park Guell. The slanting stone columns are classic examples of Gaudi’s organic architecture and this particular area has been popularized in various movies and TV shows including “Vicky Christina Barcelona” and the Taiwanese-drama Meteor Garden. A big part of why I visited Barcelona is this place. I have long wanted to marvel at the stone columns and doing it was indeed a magical experience for me.
The Greek Theatre or Nature Square
After passing the porticos, most visitors end up lounging or relaxing at the large esplanade which the original plans called the Greek Theatre. But it is now called the Nature Square or Placa de la Natura in Catalan (not Spanish). This place is the best place to marvel at the impressive and colorful tiles that the Park is famous for. It also gives visitors a gorgeous view of the Gracia district of Barcelona. Here’s a tip, visit the park in the afternoon when most of the tour visitors have left and the sun is about to set. It is an unforgettable sight, I can assure you.