Antoni Gaudí is the man behind the bizarre yet ingenious Park Güell, the most famous park in Barcelona. Commissioned by businessman Eusebi Güell, the architect started building a dream village on the edge of the city that was supposed to resemble a fairy-tale forest. Even though the village was never completed, as only 2 of the 60 planned houses were built, Park Güell is still truly unique.
Park Güell is best described as a fantastical exuberance. Bright colours, unusual architectural shapes and natural curves: Gaudí certainly gave his imagination free rein. The park was built between 1900 and 1914 and is located on El Carmel Hill in the Gràcia neighbourhood – one can clearly see how the artist tried to integrate his creation into the landscape.
Antoni Gaudí actually lived in one of the 2 completed homes in the park from 1906 to 1926. That house is now called Casa Museu Gaudí and was turned into a museum that displays drawings and furniture. One of the highlights in Park Güell is the famous mosaic snake bench that wraps around the panoramic terrace; this is officially the longest bench in the world. The story goes that Gaudí was inspired by the story of Adam and Eve when he created this bench. Note the double stairs with a salamander and fountain on top.
Carrer d'Olot, Barcelona
Another unique sight is the 'Hall with 100 columns': a hall with 100 columns – although a careful count reveals there are only 86 – that support an entire square and create a lovely pavilion full of shade to escape the Spanish summer heat. Observe the ceiling and admire the various indentations, decorated with religious, mythological and astrological symbols. The square above the hall is called the Gran Plaza Circular, which is where the world-famous benches decorated with brightly coloured ceramic tile pieces are located. Apart from all these sights, it must be noted that the magnificent view of Barcelona is at least as worthwhile. Tip: follow the walking trails to the top of the mountain for even better views of the city.