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Antoni Gaudi's Park Güell: Utopian Environment in Barcelona, Spain

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Entrance view of Güell Park in Barcelona, Spain

Entrance view of Güell Park in Barcelona, Spain

Visiting Park Güell

Park Güell was a creation of Antoni Gaudi. The park was part of a Barcelona city tour that my husband and I got to take in 1992. Splitting our time between viewing summer Olympic events and also taking tours, this is one trip that was well worth our time. I would highly recommend seeing this unique park if you ever travel to Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona's Güell Park in Spain is a treat for the senses. Combining a pleasant stroll through the gardens while getting to see the work and creations of one of history's most original architects is an enjoyable experience we will not soon forget. His utopian environment will persist in our memories as well as delight tourists seeing it for the first time.

Antoni Gaudi

Born in 1852 in the town of Reus, Antoni Gaudi was a sickly child. He 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 quickly become acquainted with his highly individualistic style of architecture.

With an in-depth 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 the most famous is a magnificent Gothic church called the Sagrada Familia which is still to this day under construction. Antoni Gaudi is buried in a crypt inside that church.

The Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona

There is no reason to regret that I cannot finish the church. I will grow old but others will come after me. What must always be conserved is the spirit of the work, but its life has to depend on the generations it is handed down to and with whom it lives and is incarnated

— Antonio Gaudi

Güell Park

From 1900 to 1914 Antoni Gaudi created what he had hoped would become a beautiful 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 magnificent 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 Güell and Gaudi had constructed for themselves. The house in which Antoni Gaudi once resided is now a museum filled with curvaceous furniture also of his design.

Our guide speculated that this was perhaps just too far a distance outside of the center of the city at the time. 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 Güell as well as wonderful exterior photos of the park.

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Amazing Grounds

Brightly colored bits of broken china and glass are incorporated into the design one sees immediately at the entrance to Park Güell. Water pours from the mouths of colorful dragon heads. An iron gate has a palmetto palm design incorporated into it.

There are 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 Güell have a Hansel and Gretel appearance, especially when looking at the fantastic rooftops.

What we found to be of great interest was the elevated public area. It had an undulating bench adorned with bits of colored pottery where people could rest and enjoy the ambiance of the beautiful scenery. Our tour guide told us that Gaudi had taken a mold of one of his worker's back and then designed the anatomically correct bench seating.

In the center of this was a large area containing sand. This sandy area is a finely designed water collection and storage system. Many yards of sand in this elevated portion of the park filter rainwater. Water is then funneled through the 86 Doric columns underneath the raised park area and stored in a reservoir. This method was to have provided the residents with good, clean drinking water. Now the rainwater is utilized to keep the gardens watered when necessary.

Public Market Area

Under this columned and shady area with sand and benches was to have been a public market had Gaudi's Utopian residential environment succeeded. Even the underside of this columned area has medallions of colorful tile work. It would have been a useful area and is also beautiful to see.

There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.

— Antonio Gaudi

A Sampling of Gaudi's Other Works

Artists do not need monuments erected for them because their works are their monuments.

— Antonio Gaudi

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

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