What is known today as Parc Güell, was initially a housing project for the richer citizens of Barcelona. It was an idea engineered by entrepreneur Eusebi Güell that contracted Gaudi to do the design. Unfortunately, the plans for the housing project did not work out and the government decided to turn the land into a city park. The green space, sitting on a hillside in northern Barcelona, is full of Gaudi’s influence and symbolism. Together with his collaborator, Josep Maria Jujol, they created mosaiced pieces of art. These colorful creations have become a part of Barcelona’s identity.
My guide to Parc Güell will help you plan your visit and make the most of your time at one of the city’s greatest landmarks.
The park consists of two areas: an area open to the public, and a restricted area requiring a ticket. Most of Gaudi’s works are inside the restricted area so you will have to buy a ticket if you want to see them. (Official site)
Open times: 8h00–21h30
Price: general entry 10€; over 65 years 7€; children aged 0-6 free; children aged 7-12 7€; disabled persons and accompanying person 7€.
You can buy tickets on the official website or use a site like Get Your Guide which offers fast track options and guided tours.
The official ticket includes a return trip on the new Bus Güell route – a shuttle that runs from Alfonso X (L4) metro station to the park and takes around takes 15 min.
You need to be aware of the time of your entry as you only have 30 minutes around the scheduled time to enter the restricted area. They only let in 400 people at each time slot and the lines can still be quite long. If you miss your entry the ticket will be forfeited.
My tip: Go early and take your time exploring the unrestricted area. You will be able to keep your eye on the moving queue and time your entry perfectly. Remember, safety first. You need to be cautious of pickpockets, especially in the free entry area. Some of them even buy tickets for the restricted area so make sure you keep your bag and valuables close.
You can reach the park by metro, bus or shuttle. The shuttle included in the ticket price will drop you at the main entrance in Carrer d’Olot.
Metro: Ride the green line (L3) to Vallcarca or Lesseps station. It’s roughly a 20-minute walk up the hill. You can also use the escalator located on Baixada de la Glòria to help you up the hill and enter using the entrance on Avinguda del Santuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya.
Bus: Use the H6 or D40 lines. It’s about 10 minutes walking time from the Travessera de Halt bus stop.
Both the Bus Turístic and Barcelona City Tour has Park Güell as stops on their routes. They stop at the same stop and it talks about 10 minutes to reach the park, usually you ‘ll enter at Carretera del Carmel through Av. Pompeu Fabra.
You might also enjoy: Explore Gaudi’s Barcelona
What to take
Parc Güell is a great spot for a picnic but the cafeteria they have inside the park is really expensive. I’d recommend buying some food (think bread, Spanish ham, cheese, fruits) from a supermarket or fresh goods market like La Bouqueria.
Barcelona gets hot and humid in summer so be sure to take lots of sunscreen, a sun hat and your own water. Wear comfy shoes as there’s a steep climb towards the park, and make sure you’ve got a good camera to take some great photos.
What to see:
Roadways, paths and viaducts
Throughout the park Gaudi created many walkways and viaducts from stone to blend in with the areas natural surroundings. The three main viaducts were built to overcome the natural topography of the area and they snake all around the park.
You have probably seen the images of the popular mosaic salamander or dragon, all over Barcelona. It has become one of the most well-known images of the park. From entrance esplanade you will find two huge stairways leading to the Hypostyle room. On each side there’s two built grottos and on your way up you will spot the famous mosaic salamander, a fountain, a snake head and the Catalonian emblem and on the last landing, the Odeon bench. Make sure you admire the tile work crafted into the walls on your way up.
From the Dragon Staircase you will reach the Hypostyle room. Here stands 86 Doric columns inspired by ancient Greece. They play a structural role as well, supporting the Greek Theater/Nature Square above. The ceiling is shaped into flowing domes where there are more spectacular mosaic work on display, created by Gaudi’s partner Josep Maria Jujol.
The Austria gardens are a vast green space that see the planned plots transformed. It was initially used as a nursery when the area was first converted into a public park. Austria donated trees to Parc Güell in 1977 and the garden was named after its sponsor.
Main entrance and porter’s lodge pavilions
If you enter through the main entrance on Carrer d’Olot, you will find yourself walking through beautiful iron gates. Before going up the Dragon Staircase, take time to admire the two buildings on either side – the porter’s lodge and the porter’s residence. The roofs of these houses are absolutely stunning. The houses are built with traditional Catalan clay tiles and decorated with Gaudi and Jujol’s trencadís, a newly developed style of mosaic using shards of tiles.
Laundry room portico
Laundry room portico is an impressive walkway carved into the mountain’s stone just above Casa Larrad, the old Güell residence. It’s a great spot to hide from the sun in the hot Barcelona summer. Carved into one of the slanted columns is a statue of a washerwoman, again inspired by the Greek style of building female figures into columns. The best way to see the fine architecture of the potico is to stand on the ‘ramp’ that takes you up and down from Casa Larrad.
Greek theater/nature square
The Greek theater or Nature Square offers the best views of Barcelona. Supported by the Hypostyle room below, the vast open space was to be used to house plays and concert. The square is outlined by the surrealist serpentine bench with more gorgeous tile work. The bench is actually a balustrade designed with a dual function. It snakes its way in waves all round the square. Beware of pickpockets here (unfortunately).
Gaudi stayed in this beautiful house for almost twenty years. It is now a museum and shines a light into Gaudi’s life. There’s various pieces of furniture that he designed on display as well as models of buildings he designed. It is important to note that this house was not designed by Gaudi and asks an extra entrance fee. I did, however, enjoy seeing the interior just as much as the exterior.
Amazing mosaic tiles
The Woody Alan film, Vicky Christina Barcelona, is one of my all time favorites and it makes me want to visit Barcelona again every time I watch it. In the film Vicky (Scarlet Johansson) is writing a thesis on Gaudi and there’s a scene in Parc Güell with Javier Bardem. If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona and you like films with artistic flair, grab a copy of this one for inspiration for your trip.
Accommodation in Barcelona: Where I stayed
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