In any corner of Barcelona, one encounters Gaudí. He is present everywhere with his art that shapes the city's streets.
Leaving La Pedrera, we proceed on Calle de Provenca, and at the first intersection, turn left on Calle de Pau Claris towards Parc Guell. With a walk of about half an hour, we reach Parc Guell.
We are at the entrance to a city park of about 15 hectares, which is definitely one of the essential attractions in Barcelona. It is an open-air art masterpiece and makes it possible to combine artistic interest with a walk in the open air.
As mentioned earlier, the connection between the rich, famous, and prominent industrialists Eusebi Guell and Antoni Gaudi meant that, in 1900, the artist was commissioned to create a luxurious residential park in a sad and desolate area of Barcelona. Particularly stimulating for Güell was the trip he made to the United Kingdom, a nation where deep social, cultural and reformist ferment had already been simmering for some time under the impetus of intellectuals such as Karl Marx and Ebenezer Howard. It was primarily the latter that struck Güell, who greatly admired his idea of the garden city (garden city): indeed, Howard, mindful of the lessons of the American cooperative movement and the nineteenth-century utopians, had envisioned a self-sufficient urban core capable of combining the pleasures of country life with city comforts, of being allocated for the housing of the wealthy or proletarian classes. Eager to replicate Howard’s experience in the Catalan land, Güell commissioned Gaudí to build a modestly sized suburb garden. He had an entire hillside with immense spaces at his disposal, and Gaudi indulged in the realisation of his art in complete symbiosis with nature. Paths, trails, mosaics, canopies, and houses, are all in harmony with the environment.
Starting from the main entrance to the Park located on Carrer de Olot, the two gatehouses with the distinctive twisted pinnacles are immediately identifiable. Walking down the dragon staircase with the famous salamander, which has now become a symbol of Barcelona, one arrives at the Doric temple. A space designed to be able to hold an indoor market, supported by 88 columns with some of them slightly irregularly hanging to give the feeling of being in a forest. Above the Doric temple, it is possible to admire the works “Nature Square” or “Greek Theater”, distinguished by the Blanc de Trencaddis, a long bench entirely with ceramic mosaic. In addition to having its classical function, the latter collects with slopes rainwater and channels it along underlying filters of rock layer to be then collected in a cistern.
Moving to the path to the left, we reach the washerwoman’s porch, considered the best example to understand what Gaudi meant by naturalist architecture. Inside the park, it is possible to visit the Casa Museu Gaudì, where the artist lived the last two decades of his life. Inside, visitors can admire a private collection of objects, furniture and drawings by the artist that allows a deep understanding of Gaudì’s most particular aspects. From Gaudì’s House, it is possible to get to the Garden of Austria, a collection of plants donated by Austria to the city of Barcelona for an exhibition in 1977. From the garden, it is possible to walk along the street to take a complete tour of the park, where one can admire bridges and paths designed by Gaudì. The park was built in about 14 years and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
We now reach the city’s central core, heading into its streets full of life and cultural verve where the most iconic and famous symbol of Barcelona stands.